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Plants for Small Borders

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017
Gazania is only one of the plants suitable for small borders.

Many times gardeners have small border areas that require sprucing up with plants. Whether the border area is by a walkway, edging for a larger flowerbed or for adding a finished look around previously planted trees or shrubs, quite a few small-growing plants are suitable for the job. Gardeners have choices in evergreens and flowering plants that are suitable in small border areas.

Mondo Grass

Mondo grass

Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus), also called dwarf lily turf, dwarf liriope or dwarf monkey grass, is a perennial, ornamental grass well suited for small border areas. Its deep green leaf blades grow approximately 1/2 to 1 foot high with a variable spreading habit. The grass grows well planted outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11. Mondo grasses low-growing habit and evergreen foliage makes it an attractive addition for limited space areas.

The grass is a shade-lover but tolerates areas located in partial shade. It is a slow grower that has a moderate drought and salt tolerance. Gardeners in coastal areas not located directly on the water will have success adding mondo grass to their borders. It prefers growing in a well-draining, slightly acidic soil medium, producing white flowers throughout summer.



Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseas), also called vinca and Madagascar periwinkle, is an evergreen perennial in zones 9 through 11. Cooler regions can use periwinkle as an annual. This heavily flowering plant is well suited for small border areas adding a bit of color to the area. Year-round flowers bloom in colors of white, pink or purple, depending on the cultivar planted. Plants grow 1 to 2 feet high with the same spread and gardeners can prune plants to control their size, shape and promote more blooms.

Gardeners in coastal areas will have success adding periwinkle plants to their borders as plants have a moderately high salt tolerance. Plants prefer and bloom the best when planted in full to partial sun conditions. Periwinkle is tolerant to a wide range of well-draining soil mediums, tolerating the poorest conditions. Plants will benefit from regular weekly watering but are relatively drought-tolerant once established, and will rot if overwatered.



Gazania, also called treasure flower, is a perennial evergreen well adapted to living in zones 8 through 11. Areas of the country experiencing frosts should use gazania as an annual as it is frost-sensitive. Gardeners desiring a plant producing striking flowers in their small borders will find gazania relatively problem-free. Large, daisy-like blooms produced spring throughout summer range in bright colors of yellows, oranges, reds and maroon. Plants grow approximately 1 foot high and spread 1 to 2 feet.

Gardeners will have success growing gazania in areas located in full sun and will experience the best blooms. The plant prefers growing in well-draining soils, tolerating even the poorest soil conditions. Gazania has a medium salt tolerance and growth rate. Plants have a high tolerance to drought conditions, though will grow and bloom best if given weekly watering. Gazania will not tolerate saturated conditions.


About the Author


For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.