Garden Photo of the Day

Favorite White Flowers

Is white even a color?

wild petunia, (Petunia axillaris, annual)

White isn’t so much a color as it is the lack of a color, but it is very useful in the garden nonetheless. White flowers have a way of looking cool and serene on a hot summer’s day, they can complement and set off darker colors, and they are a must for any garden that is usually viewed in the evening or at dusk. Moon gardens they are sometimes called, and probably not many of us actually go out to look at our gardens at moonlight, but plenty of us only get out to the garden in the evening after a long day at work. There are many terrific white flowers for the garden. Here are some of my favorites.

Mountain laurel
Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia, Zones 5–9). This evergreen shrub is native over a wide swath of the southeastern corner of the U.S. There are many selections with pink or even dark red flowers, but I think the typical wild form with its brilliant white blooms just marked with a few spots of red cannot be beat.

Erythronium ‘White Beauty’

Erythronium ‘White Beauty’ (‘White Beauty’ trout lily). This large flowered selection of a species native to western North America has the most elegant flowers I know—perfect white lilies dancing on long stems over large, mottled leaves. What could be better? And those pale blooms just glow in the shade garden.

Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina, Zones 5–8)

The Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina, Zones 5–8) is a native tree that deserves to be grown far more often. When it blooms in the spring, it is clear how it got its name—each branch is lined with perfect little white, bell-like flowers.

wild petunia, (Petunia axillaris, annual)

Often white flowers are delicious scented, because they are pollinated by night-flying moths. That is the case with this wild petunia, (Petunia axillaris, annual). This is one of the parents of modern hybrid petunias, and unlike most of its more brightly colored dependents, it boasts a sweet scent that is mild during the day and so powerful it will fill the whole garden in the evening.

Iris tectorum (Japanese roof iris, Zones 4–9)

Iris tectorum (Japanese roof iris, Zones 4–9) is usually purple, and while I love that, I have to say the pure white form is possibly even better.

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  1. User avater
    user-7007816 05/25/2018

    Thanks for sharing the white flowers. I have found a bed of old-fashioned sweet peas climbing a trellis to also be quite beautiful.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 05/25/2018

    Many years ago when we were house shopping because my husband had been transferred to the Boston area, we were shown a property that included several acres filled with wild mountain laurel. It was peak bloom time for them and, to this day, it ranks as one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. The house wasn't right, the work commute would have been way too long but, oh my, the magical memory of that sea of white mountain laurel blooms is still with me.

    1. Chellemp 05/25/2018

      It was a trip to the Great Smokey Mountains that did it for me. The mountain laurel covering the slopes were magnificent! Thanks for the memories.

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/25/2018

    Love all of these!! Wish I could grow trout lilies here. They hate my clay soil.

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