What Are The Best Plants For Narrow Borders? Wall-Side Plant Lists

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Narrow borders may not offer the same promise as larger spaces, a little creativity can make them work. A great way to overcome a narrow border is by using the vertical space to grow climbing plants or trained trees, shrubs. 

Perennial Plants For Narrow Borders

There are many herbaceous perennials that you can plant on narrow borders. However, it is best to avoid tall perennials. They blend well with shorter plants but leave you with stark, unadorned stems. However, there are some exceptions. For example, many verbascums will produce a neat rosette at the base of their leaves, which then produces a tall, elegant spike of flowers.

13 Best Plants For Narrow Borders

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis is a helpful plant because they prefer to grow up, rather than out. If you have a tight border, they will bring a lot of height without needing a lot of space. These plants are great for pollinators and can be cut back to make more flowers.

Bearded iris

The bearded iris takes up very little space and can thrive in a sunny area. The plant come in almost every color, so you can fit them in with many different garden colors.


Libertias are graceful perennials that have strappy, grassy leaves and airy stems that bear white flowers. Libertia chilensis is the well known variety, which prefers a sunny location and well-drained soil, is one of the most sought-after species.

Espalier trees

For narrow borders, Espalier, fan and cordon-trained trees make a great choice. They are flat against the wall and take up very little space, but they can produce foliage, flowers, and fruit. This is a great way to train trees such as peaches, pears, and apricots.

Japanese quinceJapanese quince

Japanese quinces, also known as Chaenomeles. They are beautiful, easy-to-grow shrubs that can be trained against walls or fences. They can be grown in shade or sun and produce spring blossoms, leaves and autumn fruits.


Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus), grows in small cracks and crevices. This makes a narrow border the perfect spot for it to grow. It is a strong self-seeder and will spread slowly. It looks great when combined with campanulas and ballota, rosemary, and eryngiums.


A lavender hedge is perfect for narrow borders and even the narrowest of borders can look beautiful with its dwarf lavender varieties. Explore how to grow lavenders and witness their beautiful growth.


For shady spots, an assortment of ferns is perfect for greening up the soil. If your border is at the base of a wall or fence, the soil may well be dry. For dry shade, go for ferns like Dryopteris affinis, Asplenium scolopendrium and Polypodium vulgare.


Sensual climbers such as jasmine and honeysuckle are great options if your narrow border is near a path or another place you frequent frequently. To avoid bare soil, plant around the base of climbers.

Japanese anemones

Japanese anemones can be grown in shade or sun, but they are especially useful in dry shade.

Stipa tenuissima

Many ornamental grasses can grow large clumps and could overtake a narrow border. Stipa tenuissuma, which is around 40-60 cm tall, provides fluffy, airy leaves.

Belladonna LilyBelladonna lily

Belladonna lilies are also known as Amaryllis belladonna. They are one of many bulbs that are beautiful plants for narrow borders. All bulbs are small and can be planted in narrow areas. Belladonna lilies are attractive with their agapanthus-like leaves and large, fragrant blooms. Ever wondered about blue lilies? We explored the mystery behind that beautiful flower too, click on our new blue lily post!

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.