20 White Flowers for a Brighter Garden

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White flowers brighten gardens by enhancing everything around them, rather than stealing the show. Here are 20 of our favorite white-flowering great design plants, all of which will illuminate your garden or planting containers. Some are U.S. natives and others are exotics, blooming throughout the year and in a wide range of conditions.

Pacific Trillium (Trillium ovatum)

This early-blooming Pacific Northwest wildflower stands out in woodland gardens with its bright white flowers. The fragrant blooms will eventually fade, but be sure to leave the plants up so that seedpods will disperse seed in the garden for the following year.

Bloom season: Late winter to early spring

Cold tolerance: Hardy to about minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 28.9 degrees Celsius (USDA zones 5 to 8)

Origin: Western North America, from British Columbia and Alberta south through Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, northern Colorado and California

Water requirement: In the Pacific Northwest, little to no supplemental summer water required once established; may require summer water in hotter climates

Light requirement: Morning sun or dappled shade; protection from hot afternoon sun is best

When to plant: Spring

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Common snowdrop is one of the first bulbs to appear in the woodland garden each year — catch this plant before it goes dormant and disappears. This perennial bulb is especially cold-tolerant, so you might see nodding flower heads poking through snow and ice.

Bloom season: Early spring

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 40 degrees Celsius (zones 3 to 8)

Origin: Europe

Water requirement: Moderate

Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade

When to plant: Fall

Bush Morning Glory (Convolvulus cneorum)

Plant bush morning glory wherever you like to start your day outside, as its flowers open each morning and close every night. It’s also sure to attract butterflies. Its short stature and spreading habit make for a great planting under trees that provide light shade.

Bloom season: Spring into summer and fall

Cold tolerance: Hardy to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 12.2 degrees Celsius (Zone 8)

Origin: Mediterranean regions of Western and Southern Europe

Water requirement: Drought-tolerant once established

Light requirement: Full sun is best but can tolerate light shade

When to plant: Spring or fall

New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

New Jersey tea is another butterfly attractor, with its flower clusters welcoming these winged beauties as well as other garden pollinators. This eastern U.S. native shrub produces an extensive root system that helps stabilize slopes and sandy banks. It remains somewhat short, at 2 to 3 feet tall, without any pruning.

Bloom season: Spring and early summer

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 34.4 degrees Celsius (zones 4 to 9)

Origin: Eastern and northern U.S., west to Minnesota and south to Texas

Water requirement: None once established

Light requirement: Full sun or mostly sun

When to plant: Spring

Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)

The delicate flowers of blackfoot daisy thrive in areas with hot, reflected sun, where other plants may struggle to survive. This low-mounding perennial can be planted to fill small crevices or allowed to spread out.

Bloom season: Spring and fall in the low desert; will bloom in summertime in cooler zones

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 28.9 degrees Celsius (Zone 5)

Origin: Central Plains and southwestern U.S., on into northern Mexico

Water requirement: Low

Light requirement: Full, reflected sun to filtered shade

When to plant: Spring or fall

Evergreen Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)

In spring, masses of small white flowers cover evergreen candytuft for up to six weeks. At only 10 to 12 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide, this low-growing plant can be used to enhance a variety of garden areas, from edging a planting bed to tumbling between boulders in the rock garden or acting as a small-scale ground cover. A variety of cultivars are available to suit your garden needs, including one that grows up to 3 feet wide and another that reblooms in fall.

Bloom season: Spring

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 34.4 degrees Celsius (zones 4 to 8)

Origin: Southern Europe

Water requirement: Moderate to low once established

Light requirement: Full sun

When to plant: Spring or fall

Confederate Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

You’ve most likely seen Confederate jasmine in many garden settings, and for good reason. This versatile plant can be trained up a trellis or allowed to spread as a ground cover, with its bright white flowers perfuming the air from spring into summer. While it can be considered invasive in warm, humid climates, it thrives in dry gardens and can be grown as a container plant in colder regions and brought inside over winter.

Bloom season: Spring into summer

Cold tolerance: Hardy to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 18 degrees Celsius (Zone 8)

Origin: Eastern Asia, including Japan, Korea, southern China and Vietnam

Water requirement: Moderate; water deeply every 10 days in summer and twice a month the rest of the year. In inland and low-desert areas, water weekly in summer.

Light requirement: Full sun to filtered shade (avoid western exposure); partial shade is best in low-desert zones

When to plant: Spring or fall

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)

Gaura produces beautiful whitish-pinkish flowers that appear to float above the foliage like little butterflies. Though delicate in appearance, this Texas native isn’t fussy and can be used throughout the United States to edge a perennial bed, or in a rock garden or containers.

Bloom season: Spring through fall; will stop flowering during summer in desert climates and continue again in fall.

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 28.9 degrees Celsius (Zone 5)

Origin: Southeastern Texas and northern Mexico

Water requirement: Drought-tolerant once established

Light requirement: Full sun (provide afternoon shade in desert climates)

When to plant: Spring or fall from transplants

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

Gardeners in the eastern half of the U.S. who want to give native flowers a try have to look no further than foxglove beardtongue. Showy white flowers appear in spring, welcoming many pollinators, including bees, flies and hummingbirds. Additionally, this plant is not difficult to grow, tolerates a range of soil types and requires nearly no water once established.

Bloom season: Spring

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 40 degrees Celsius (zones 3 to 9)

Origin: Eastern North America, except Florida; the western part of its range includes South Dakota and areas south to Texas

Water requirement: Moderate to dry

Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade

When to plant: Spring or fall

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

Turn to sweet alyssum If you’re looking for just a little bit of white to spill out of your container plantings, hanging baskets, rock gardens or low borders. This annual flower is available in a variety of colors, including pink and purple, and its sweet honey scent attracts butterflies, birds and bees.

Bloom season: Winter-blooming in warmer climates; spring- and summer-blooming in cooler climates

Cold tolerance: As an annual, can be grown in all zones

Origin: Southern Europe and the Mediterranean

Water requirement: Moderate

Light requirement: Full to partial sun

When to plant: Fall or winter in warmer climates; spring in cooler climates

Tufted Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)

Tufted evening primrose is a night-bloomer, with fragrant white flowers that open once the sun starts to set. Perfect for a moon garden, the bright white flowers shine at night and also attract nighttime pollinators. Tufted evening primrose’s cold-hardiness as well as its ability to thrive in areas with hot summers make it a desirable and versatile low-growing perennial in western U.S. gardens.

Bloom season: Spring to late summer

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 28.9 degrees Celsius (Zone 5)

Origin: Higher-elevation regions (4,500 to 7,500 feet) of the western United States and Canada

Water requirement: Low to moderate

Light requirement: Full sun (light shade in low-desert gardens)

When to plant: Spring in all zones and fall in Zone 8 and above

‘Elizabeth’ Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica ‘Elizabeth’)

‘Elizabeth’ has established itself as the most prominent cultivar of this California native, with its fragrant white flowers attracting butterflies and other garden visitors. Bush anemone’s shade tolerance and resistance to oak root fungus make it a great fit for a woodland garden or planted beneath the canopy of a sprawling California oak tree.

Bloom season: Late spring into summer

Cold tolerance: Hardy to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 3.9 degrees Celsius (Zone 9)

Origin: The straight species is native to the Sierra Nevada foothills of Fresno County, California.

Water requirement: Regular to establish; deep, occasional watering afterward

Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade (protect it in the hottest climates)

When to plant: Spring or fall

Canadian Anemone (Anemone canadensis)

Throughout much of North America, Canadian anemone grows at water’s edges and provides bright white flowers in spring. It’s known to be a vigorous spreader, so be sure you have the space to handle it as well as mature plantings that can stand up to its aggressive tendencies.

Bloom season: Late spring

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 42.8 degrees Celsius (zones 2 to 6)

Origin: Eastern and western North American wetland margins

Water requirement: Moderate to wet

Light requirement: Sun to partial shade

When to plant: Spring or fall

Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

For a classic white garden flower, turn to wild hydrangea. This eastern U.S. native and its cultivars grace gardens across the country and around the world. These flowering perennials are actually considered pretty easy to grow, despite their delicate appearance, as they tolerate a wide range of soils and sun conditions. Since they flower on new wood, winter freezes don’t affect flowering. Cultivars like ‘Anabelle’ produce larger blooms, while the straight species is smaller and wilder in appearance.

Caution: The leaves, buds and flowers are toxic to people and pets, and can be harmful if consumed in sufficient quantities.

Bloom season: Late spring through much of summer

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 40 degrees Celsius (zones 3 to 9)

Origin: Eastern Kansas east to southern New York in the north and Louisiana and northern Florida in the south

Water requirement: Prefers moist (not wet) loamy soils

Light requirement: Prefers partial sun but will tolerate full sun if given consistent moisture

When to plant: In spring or fall in containers; plant divisions in early spring before the plant fully leafs out

Crimsoneyed Rosemallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Crimsoneyed rosemallow is a garden showstopper, with individual flowers measuring up to 8 inches across. For gardeners in the eastern and southeastern portions of the U.S., plant this flowering shrub where you have wet soil, like at the edge of a pond or in a rain garden, and watch as native bees and hummingbirds flock to it.

Bloom season: Summer

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 34.4 degrees Celsius (zones 4 to 9)

Origin: Southeastern and eastern U.S., and parts of the Midwest

Water requirement: Moderate to high

Light requirement: Full sun

When to plant: Transplant in fall; collect seeds in autumn for spring planting

Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)

This eastern U.S. native produces elegant white candlestick flowers in woodland shade gardens. Pollinators and beneficial insects usually follow.

Bloom season: Summer

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 40 degrees Celsius (zones 3 to 9)

Origin: Rich deciduous woodlands from Massachusetts south to Georgia and west to Missouri and Arkansas

Water requirement: High

Light requirement: Partial sun to full shade

When to plant: Plant rhizomes in spring or fall.

Bigleaf Aster (Eurybia macrophylla)

While there are many native aster flowers to choose from, bigleaf aster fills an important void in the eastern U.S. woodland garden, both with its stature and the fact that it blooms when little else is flowering. Tall stalks, 2 to 4 feet tall, produce clusters of small white to light pink flowers that a variety of pollinators rely on.

Bloom season: Summer to early fall

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 42.8 degrees Celsius (zones 2 to 6)

Origin: Eastern North America, from Saskatchewan east to Quebec in the north and Missouri southeast to Georgia in the U.S.

Water requirement: Moderate

Light requirement: Partial sun to partial shade

When to plant: Spring or late fall

Astilbe (Astilbe chinensis)

The flowers of astilbe not only add a shot of white to the garden, but also contribute a distinct texture, with tall, feathery plumes. These classic garden fixtures stand out on their own or when planted en masse and can be used to brighten shady garden corners.

Bloom season: Summer

Cold tolerance: Hardy to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 31.7 degrees Celsius (zones 4 to 9)

Origin: China

Water requirement: Regular

Light requirement: Light to moderate shade

When to plant: Midspring or after the last frost

Zephyrlily (Zephyranthes spp.)

Zephyrlily, also called rain lily, shines in summer gardens with its white, pink or peach blooms, often blooming in response to summer rains.

Caution: All parts of this plant are poisonous.

Bloom season: Late summer into fall

Cold tolerance: Hardy to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 18 degrees Celsius (Zone 7)

Origin: Texas, Mexico and Central America

Light requirement: Full sun

Water requirement: Moderately drought-tolerant once established

When to plant: Plant bulbs in fall.

Sasanqua Camellia (Camellia sasanqua)

For gardeners in California, the Southeast and other regions with similarly mild climates, sasanqua camellia provides welcome winter blooms. Cultivars are available in a variety of colors. With its upright form and tolerance of sun and shade, sasanqua camellia is a beautiful plant that is also quite useful, as it’s suitable as a ground cover, a hedge, an espalier, a container plant and a freestanding specimen.

Bloom season: Late fall

Cold tolerance: Hardy to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 15 degrees Celsius (zones 7 to 10)

Origin: China and Japan

Water requirement: Moderate

Light requirement: Partial shade, especially in hot climates

When to plant: Spring, fall or winter in warmer climates

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