Statement plants for small garden spaces
With land sizes and gardens getting smaller and smaller, plants are downsizing as well. While there’s no longer room for large shade trees in many small gardens, there are many plants that you can use to provide impact. These are known as statement plants. They grow well in small spaces or containers and range from striking succulents to small weeping trees. Here is a selection of our favourite statement plants for small garden spaces that will really give you that wow factor.
Top 8 small-space statement plants
These large, rosette-shaped bromeliads really pull a punch whether in a garden bed or a large container. To make a strong statement look for ‘Rubra’, a variety with dark red leaves, ‘Silver Plum’ which has silver leaves that are dark red beneath, or ‘Sunshine’, which has variegated green and gold leaves. These bromeliads have large, broad, strappy leaves and grow well in temperate to tropical climates bringing a feel of the lush tropics to any garden. They grow in sun or shade.
Also known as elephant ear, alocasias have large, heart-shaped dark green leaves often strongly patterned in silver. Many have colourful stems. They form large clumps and grow well in temperate to tropical climates adding a lush tropical. Plants can be grown in the ground or a container in a courtyard, on a balcony or even in a bright spot indoors. A. macrorrhizos is a tropical species grown for its edible, starchy root, lush green leaves and tall white spathe flower.
This small tree has attractive, heart-shaped leaves that are colourful both in spring as they emerge in tones of plum and in autumn as they colour to yellow before falling. ‘Forest Pansy’ also has small mauve to rose pink flowers in spring. These trees grow best in cool to temperate zones with protection from hot sun and wind. Trees grow to around 3m high and wide and can be grown in a garden bed, as a feature tree or in a large container.
Frangipani is a large succulent, which forms a very attractive small tree with white or coloured fragrant flowers mainly from summer to autumn. It grows well in all frost-free areas from temperate zones to the tropics. In cooler areas, a frangipani will give you the best results if you grow it in a warm, sunny, sheltered position such as against a masonry wall. Frangipani is deciduous in winter. Trees grow 2-3m high and wide and can be long lived. As well as the well-known white flower with a yellow throat, frangipani flowers can be pink, apricot, sunset tones or deep red. There are many named varieties. The fallen flowers make a show around the base of the tree adding to its impact.
These rosette-shaped succulents are new and highly desirable. They are a hybrid between agave and manfreda. There are named varieties with colourful leaves in tones of purple. Plants grow rapidly in the ground or in containers. Unlike most agaves, mangaves have soft tips to their leaves making them very garden friendly. They are suited to all climates and are frost tolerant.
For a statement plant with a lush, tropical look select a small palm such as a parlour palm (Chamaedorea elegans) or cascade palm (atrovirens), which grow to around 2m high with a fountain of fronds. These plants do best in a sheltered semi-shaded to shaded spot in a subtropical to tropical garden or in a warm, sheltered spot in a temperate garden. You can grow them in a large container for a statement plant in a courtyard, balcony or indoors in a brightly lit spot.
While there are large, sculptural succulents such as mangave (above) and agave, which make a statement by themselves, smaller succulents can also be used as statement plants by being massed together perhaps in a large shallow container or in a garden bed. For a pot, select succulents with a range of leaf shapes, sizes and colours. In a bed, grow a mass of tall succulents such as aeoniums, which have attractive rosettes of growth, or slender sansevierias.
A weeping maple is a small tree with fine leaves that really makes a statement, especially in spring with its dark purple new growth, and autumn when its leaves take on vibrant scarlet tones. Select a spot that’s sheltered from hot sun and westerly winds. Small forms can be grown in large containers. For year-round interest on a more upright tree, look at ‘Sango-kaku’ (also known as Senkaki), which has colourful spring new growth, good autumn colour and colourful bark. Trees grow to around 4-6m high and 3-5m wide, depending on the variety. Protect new growth from possums.
There you go - Flower Power's top 8 statement plants for small garden spaces! Want more inspiration and ideas? Follow us on Facebook or Instagram @flowerpowergardencentres, and don't forget to drop in-store and chat to an expert horticulturist to work out what will work for your garden.