3 Visual Textures for Plants

When it comes down to it, a garden is really just made up of leaves and flowers! They each come in three general sizes, creating a plant’s visual texture. Understanding texture and using that knowledge when you plan can upgrade the impact of your garden from sweet to spectacular. The garden immediately gains depth and interest when plants with contrasting textures are planted beside each other.

Below, you’ll find examples of each texture and measurements of the leaves and flowers to give you an idea of what to look for in the real world. Further down, you can find some examples of contrasting textures in the garden to inspire your own planting.

Fine Texture

Small leaves or small, spread apart flowers. 

These types of plants look best when grouped. They can be placed anywhere in a planting. Like an evergreen hedge at the back of a border, a line of edging at the bed edge, or a cheerful mass right in the middle. 

Mucho Gusto™ abelia

leaf – 1.5″ long x .7″ wide
flower – .8″ long and wide

Ground Hug® aronia

leaf – 2.3″ long x 1.2″ wide
flower – .4″ long and wide

Neatball™ boxwood

leaf – .8″ long x .4″ wide
flower – .1″ wide

Medium Texture

Average sized leaves and flowers.

This is the most common type of texture in a garden, usually making up the bulk of a planting. You can generally use these plants in any garden role.

Just Chill™ Double White camellia

leaf – 2.5″ long x 1.6″ wide
flower – 3″ wide

Kodiak Fresh® diervilla

leaf – 4″ long x 2″ wide
flower – .6″ long x .3″ wide

Oso Easy Double Red® rose

leaflet – 3″ long x 2″ wide
flower – 3″ wide

Coarse Texture

Large leaves or flowers.

These plants make great specimens, providing a backdrop to fine and medium textured plants. Low growing coarse plants make a big impact when planted along grass lined bed edges. It creates a big visual distinction between the lawn and the garden. Use hostas, brunnera, or hydrangeas.

Let’s Dance Sky View® hydrangea

leaf – 4″ long x 3″ wide
flower – 6.7″ wide

Gatsby Pink® oakleaf hydrangea

leaf – 9.4″ long x 7.9″ wide
flower – 10.8″ long x 5.3″ wide

Scentara Pura® lilac

leaf – 2.3″ long x 1.5″ wide
flower – 5″ long x 4″ wide

Examples

Now that you know what each texture looks like, it might be helpful to see them planted in the garden. Plants are listed in order from the top of the photo down.

Written by
Kristina Howley

Kristina Howley

I am all in when it comes to gardening. Almost every part of the experience delights me – new leaves emerging in spring, pollinators buzzing in summer, birds devouring berries in fall, and the somber beauty of seed heads in winter. Thanks to a background in horticulture and gardening my own clay-filled, flowery USDA zone 5b plot, I’ve learned plenty of practical things as well. I like sharing these joys and lessons with my fellow gardeners and soon-to-be gardeners any way I can.

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