Garden Plants for Scotland

A northern land of steep hills and crystal lakes, Scotland seldom experiences dramatic weather events. It has a wet, cool climate tempered by warm North Atlantic currents. Summer twilight can last until 11 p.m. in northern Scotland, where the Highlanders must cope with constant southern or southwestern winds. Not all garden plants perform equally well throughout Scotland. With a bit of effort, however, Scottish gardeners can find plants to make their landscapes as bright as a McIntosh tartan.

Orange Ball Tree

Orange ball tree (Buddleia globosa) doesn’t share the long, narrow flower clusters of its relative, butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii). This 10- to 15-foot shrub has clumps of profuse, yellow or orange balled-shaped flowers that nearly obscure its glossy green-leaves. The orange ball tree is most common along Eastern Scotland’s Lothian and Moray County coasts. The arching shrub is semi-evergreen in sheltered locations, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It likes full sun and moist, well-drained loam.

Guelder Rose

Common through much of Southern and Central Scotland, guelder rose (viburnum opulus) isn't a rose at all. This honeysuckle family shrub matures to a spreading, 10-foot high and wide plant with medium green, maple leaflike foliage. The "Compactum" guelder rose cultivar, standing only 5 feet high, has flat clusters of white, late spring flowers and brilliant red berries in the fall, according to Ohio State University. Remaining on the shrub through the winter, the berries feed bullfinches and mistle thrushes. Guelder rose likes a sunny location. It handles any well-drained soil, regardless of fertility or pH.


Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) is common in mainland Scotland and on the Scottish Isles. Trained on a wall or fence or allowed to travel freely over other hedges, it will fill the garden with sweet spring fragrance from its yellow and white blooms. The flowers' nectar-filled tubes attract bees and butterflies. Bullfinches and warblers feed on its bright red berries. Honeysuckle’s dense green foliage provides an attractive backdrop for other blooming plants. The quickly growing plant does best in full sun and moderately dry loam, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Spanish Bluebell

Spanish bluebell thrives along Eastern and Southwestern Scotland's coasts. A tough little hyacinth family bulb, this early spring bloomer stands up to 18 inches high and 1 foot wide. Each plant produces a clump of straplike green leaves. In April and May, a stem with nodding, lavender bell-shaped blooms rises above the foliage. The showy plants are most effective massed beneath trees or along woodland borders, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Spanish bluebell likes full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.

Keywords: Scottish garden plants, garden plants Scotland, wood anemone, guelder rose, orange ball tree

About this Author

A freelance writer, Judy Wolfe has owned Prose for the Pros, a freelance writing business, since 2006. She's been an inveterate traveler since 1961 and draws on her travel experiences to provide articles for such websites as Chincoteague Island Vacations and Berlin Dude. Wolfe holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from California State University at Pomona.