20 Plants for an Italian Garden for your Home


Italian garden

By Jennifer Poindexter

An Italian garden is different from most American gardens. Most American gardens are filled with crops or bright flowers. They also aren’t created with the idea of providing a place of rest.

Italian gardens are created as a place of beauty and sanctuary. They do incorporate flowers, but the garden space isn’t filled with as many vivid colors. 

Instead, these gardens are designed with hardscapes, shrubbery, and Mediterranean herbs, and flowers are a mere accent. 

If you’re interested in creating your own Italian-inspired gardening space, allow this list of plants to inspire your growing area:

What Is an Italian-Style Garden?

Italian style gardens are much more than placing a few plants strategically in the ground. They’re filled with hardscapes, herbs, shrubs, and flowers.

The main focus in an Italian style garden is the hardscapes. This includes items such as fountains, statues, large planters, and sidewalks.

From there, evergreen shrubs are planted, Mediterranean herbs are incorporated, and accent flowers are placed to bring the entire look together.

If you’re contemplating creating an Italian style garden, be sure to include each of these concepts for an authentic look around your home.

Plants and Flowers Commonly Grown in Italian Gardens

Most Italian gardens have a gorgeous array of colors, textures, and types of plants. Let’s explore various types of flowers, herbs, and trees you may utilize in your Italian-inspired garden:

1. Sage

Sage is a beautiful herb that has light green foliage with a unique texture. Not only is this plant nice to look at, but it’s useful for culinary purposes as well.

Should you add sage to your garden, be sure to provide a growing location with full sunlight and soil that’s well-draining. Sage can handle high temperatures, but it can’t handle a soggy growing location. This herb is hardy in planting zones five through eight.

2. Boxwood

Boxwoods are smaller evergreen shrubs which can be pruned to create a variety of shapes. They’re a great way to add a subtle pop of color to your landscape.

When growing boxwoods, they’ll need a location with well-draining soil and full to partial sunlight. These shrubs also need protection from high winds as this can cause damage. Expect boxwoods to remain hardy in planting zones five through nine.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary is another gorgeous herb that fits well in an Italian inspired garden. However, it’s important to get the growing conditions correct with this plant.

When selecting a growing location, be sure to supply rosemary with plenty of sunlight and soil that’s aerated and drains adequately. Rosemary should remain hardy in planting zones seven through ten.

4. Bay Laurel

If you like to use bay leaves in your kitchen, then this option may be a good selection for your Italian inspired garden. Bay leaves come from a tree known as the bay laurel. They reach heights of up to sixty feet tall but can remain as small as ten feet. 

It needs a growing location with full to partial sunlight and well-draining soil that remains evenly damp. The bay laurel tree remains hardy in planting zones eight and higher.

5. Summer Jasmine

Jasmine is a climbing, fragrant plant which produces beautiful foliage and cup-shaped white blooms. If you’d like a plant that adds color and a fresh scent to your garden, don’t overlook this option.

When growing Jasmine, select a growing location with full to partial sunlight. This plant also needs soil that’s well-draining and rich in nutrients. Expect summer Jasmine to remain hardy in planting zones seven through ten.

6. Parsley

Parsley is a fresh herb that’s great to have in your garden for its beauty and utility. If you like to incorporate fresh herbs into your meals, definitely consider adding parsley to your Italian style garden.

Should you add parsley to your garden, be sure to supply it with an area of full sunlight and soil that’s nutritious and well-draining. Parsley is a biennial and should grow as one in planting zones eight and higher. In other areas, this herb should be treated as an annual.

7. Thuja

Thuja trees make for an excellent border in an Italian garden. They provide shade, serve as windbreaks, and also provide privacy.

When growing a thuja tree, supply it with full to partial sunlight. These trees thrive in most soil types as long as the area isn’t left in an oversaturated state. Expect thuja trees to remain hardy in planting zones five through nine.

olive tree in planter

8. European Olive Tree

The European olive tree is one that can be grown in the ground and reach heights around twenty feet tall, or it can be grown in a container and be kept smaller. How much space you have, and your planting zone, may decide your growing method. 

When growing this tree, it needs a location with ample sunlight and soil that’s well-draining and evenly damp. This plant is hardy in planting zones eight through ten. However, if grown in a container, it may be overwintered indoors or in a greenhouse in lower planting zones.

lavender in Italian garden design

9. Lavender

Lavender is a gorgeous plant which produces bushy green leaves and purple blooms. This plant prefers areas of dry heat versus areas of humidity.

When growing lavender, be sure to select a growing location with plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil. It’s not necessary for the soil to be high quality. Lavender performs better in a less fertile soil. This plant should remain hardy in planting zones five through nine, depending upon variety.

10. Marjoram

Marjoram is a beautiful flowering herb which produces tiny clusters of pink blooms. Not only is this plant aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also great for culinary purposes.

If you’d like to add this herb to your Italian-inspired garden, select a growing location with full sunlight and well-draining soil. Marjoram is typically grown as an annual since it’s only hardy in planting zones nine and ten.

11. Holly

Most people don’t think of holly trees or shrubs for their blooms. However, they do produce small white blooms which later give way to rich, red berries.

If you’re looking for a pop of color in your Italian-inspired garden, consider growing a holly tree. These evergreen plants add subtle color all year long and are great for growing locations with full to partial sunlight and well-draining soil. Holly remains hardy in planting zones three through ten.

12. Oregano

Oregano is another rich, green herb that’s typically grown for its foliage. However, it also produces small flowers when going to seed at the end of the season.

Not only is this a useful plant to have around, but it’s great for landscaping your garden area. Oregano grows best in areas with full sunlight and well-draining soil. This herb remains hardy in planting zones four and higher. If well cared for, this plant will come back larger each year.

herbs vegetables and fruit Italian garden harvest

13. Basil

Basil has fragrant green foliage that’s wonderful when used around your kitchen or as an herbal tea. It also makes a great addition to an Italian garden. The reason being is this plant is great for adding color to the growing area. 

It also produces dainty blooms at the end of its growing season. Expect basil to grow well in areas with full sunlight and well-draining soil. Basil is usually grown as an annual since it doesn’t tolerate frost.

14. Thyme

Thyme is another perennial herb that’s great for having around your home and should make a nice addition to your Italian style garden.

This herb provides a nice fragrance and adds texture to the growing space with its low-growing, green foliage. Thyme enjoys a dry growing location with plenty of sunlight. It should remain hardy in planting zones five through nine.

15. Wall Germander

Wall germander is a bushy plant that produces vibrant green foliage and purple blooms. This plant reaches heights around two feet tall and becomes approximately one foot wide.

When growing wall germander, it does best in a growing location with well-draining soil. It isn’t particular about soil type and thrives in soil that’s lower-quality. Wall germanders thrive in both sun and shade. This plant should remain hardy in planting zones five through nine.

16. Italian Cypress

When you think of an Italian-style garden, this tree is probably one of the first images which pops into your mind. The Italian cypress is a tall, thin evergreen tree which reaches heights around sixty feet tall.

This tree thrives in times of drought and does well in full sunlight but does need well-draining soil. Italian cypress trees should remain hardy in planting zones seven through ten.

17. Daphne

Daphne plants are rounded shrubs with rich green foliage and purple clusters of blooms. This plant reaches heights around four feet tall and becomes as wide as two feet.

When growing daphne, supply it with a growing location that has full to partial sunlight and provide soil that’s well-draining. Daphne should remain hardy in planting zones six through nine.

18. Yew

Yew trees are evergreens which reach heights between thirty and sixty feet. These trees produce red berries during mid-summer through the fall months.

Should you add this tree to your Italian-style garden, be sure to supply it with a growing location that consists of full sunlight to full shade. It also does well in soil that’s evenly damp but drains adequately. Expect yew trees to remain hardy in planting zones five and higher.

19. Lemon Tree

Lemon trees are a common plant included in Italian-style gardens. They’re both beautiful and functional. If you’d like to add fruiting plants to your garden, this could be a good option.

When growing a lemon tree, provide a location with ample sunlight and soil that’s both well-draining and nutritious. Expect lemon trees to remain hardy in planting zones nine and higher.

20. Tansy

Our last plant to discuss adding to your Italian-style garden is tansy. This beautiful plant ranges in height from three to five feet.

When adding tansy to your growing location, supply it with full to partial sunlight. It also needs soil that’s well-draining and nutritious. Tansy should remain hardy in planting zones four through eight.

Many of the plants on this list are common elements in most styles of gardens. However, an Italian garden is different due to its design elements.

If you’d like to have a place of beauty and a great place to relax around your home, then design an Italian-inspired garden and select a few plants from this list to complete the look you desire.

Design Tips for Italian-Style Gardens

Garden Feature Details
Evergreens Boxwood, Italian Cypress, Laurel, Yew, Rosemary, Junipers.
Fruit Trees Trained over pergolas/arches, espaliered for fruit ripening.
Lemon Trees In terracotta pots, moved in cold weather, Mediterranean feel.
Foliage Colors Shades from light to dark green, silver, bronze, gold.
Manicured Shapes Sheared for geometric shapes, reflecting order and control.
Art Background Plants as backdrop for statues and fountains.
Flower Use Fewer flowers, used in bunches or densely planted beds.

More About Italian Gardens

https://mastergardener.extension.wisc.edu/files/2016/11/ItalianGarden.pdf

https://itatti.harvard.edu/gardens-grounds

https://exhibitions.library.columbia.edu/exhibits/show/platt/published/lante

lavender with text overlay Italian-Style gardens twenty plants to consider for Italian-style gardens

The post 20 Plants for an Italian Garden for your Home appeared first on Gardening Channel.

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