Kinds of Garden Plants

Plants are categorized in a number of ways, from their lifespan to the longevity of their foliage. Choosing which species of plants to garden with can be overwhelming with so many choices. Many gardeners may find it helpful to start with broad categories, becoming more specific until they find the exact kind of garden plant they desire.


Vines are sprawling plants that are often utilized to climb over structures such as trellises, mailboxes and fences, even larger plants such as trees. Vines can also be left on the ground to create a dense ground cover. Popular vine types include the blue passionflower (Passiflora caerulea) and star jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum). A native of Brazil and Argentina, blue passionflower sports lush foliage and exotic looking blue and white flowers. The vine can be grown in full sunlight in sandy, loose soil in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 8 to 11. The vine is drought tolerant once established. Star jasmine is a heavily fragrant vine native to Korea and Japan. The plant offers waxy yellow and white blooms and dark green foliage. The vine can be grown in shade in USDA zones 8 to 10, in moist, well-drained soil.

Cactus and Succulent

Cactus and succulent plants are natives of the desert, popular for their unusual adaptations, in addition to their low-care requirements. Species that are often cultivated include the hardy prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) and medicinal aloe (aloe vera). Hardy prickly pear is a native of the Americas. The drought-tolerant plant has large succulent pads, edible sweet fruits and brilliant yellow flowers. Hardy prickly pear can be grown in full sunlight and rocky, well-drained soil in USDA zones 5 to 10. Medicinal aloe is a native of Northern Africa. The plant sports pointed fleshy leaves, which have jagged edges. Medicinal aloe can be grown in full sunlight in USDA zones 8 to 11 in full sun or partial shade. The plant prefers a well-drained, rocky soil and little to no supplemental water.


Shrubs are dense perennials that are often used to add structure to a garden. These plants are sometimes pruned to create formal hedges and privacy screens. Popular shrub species include boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. koreana) and Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica). Boxwood is a versatile shrub that is lush with green foliage. The plant grows in full sun or partial shade in USDA zones 4B to 7B, in just about any soil so long as its well draining and moist. Japanese camellia is a flowering shrub notable for its glossy oval leaves and large, showy flowers which are often a rich shade of pink. The shrub can be cultivated in partial or full sun in USDA zones 7A to 9A. The plant does best in an acidic, well-drained soil that is watered frequently.

Keywords: plant types, garden plants, plant kinds

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.