Different Ornamental Plants

Grown primarily for their unusual foliage, beautiful blooms or for their attractive but inedible berries, ornamental plants are those that are cultivated for their appearance, rather than their function. Ornamental plants are often a highlight of a garden, causing people to stop and admire them before they go on their way.

Lion's Ear

A member of the mint family, lion's ear (Leonotus leonurus), also called lion's tail, is a perennial semi-evergreen plant native to South Africa. The plant has an erect habit, with a stiff tall stem topped with unusual looking tubular orange or red flowers. The foliage of the plant is a rich green. Lion's ear can be cultivated as an ornamental in USDA zones 9 to 11. The plant should be grown in well-drained soil and full sunlight for best results. Lion's ear is drought tolerant once established, as well as moderately salt tolerant, and should not require supplemental watering. The butterfly- and bird-attracting flowers make lion's ear a great plant for wildlife-oriented gardens.

American Beautyberry

American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), also known as French mulberry, is a North American shrub that boasts thick green foliage and dark purple or maroon clusters of berries. Though the berries aren't tasty, the plant is commonly cultivated as an ornamental in USDA zones 9A to 10B. American beautyberry does best in partial to full sunlight in soil of just about any pH. A well-drained soil is necessary for this shrub, which requires frequent watering. American beautyberry is largely pest free and can be used for erosion control or as an attractive border plant. The shrub also produces small lavender blooms, though they aren't particularly showy.

Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine

A native of the tropical Americas, ornamental sweet potato vine (Ipomoea spp.) is a member of the morning glory family that is frequently cultivated for its attractive foliage, rather than its tubers (which are rarely eaten). The vine boasts heart-shaped, dense green leaves, which look lovely hanging over a container. The plant can be grown in full sun or almost full shade in USDA zones 9 to 11. A loose, well-drained and fertile soil is ideal for this plant, as is regular watering. Ornamental sweet potato vine is fast growing and perfect for a shady corner of the garden that needs a quick pick-me-up.

Keywords: ornamental plants, unusual plants, ornamental types

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.