21 Plants For Mid-Century Modern Home Gardens

Wondering which plants are right for your mid-century home garden? Interested in learning more about the principles of mid-century architecture and landscape design? Certified master gardener Liz Jaros has you covered with this breakdown of mid-century style and a look at the plants that embrace its philosophy.

A modern home is surrounded by a terraced garden filled with diverse plants.


If you own a mid-century modern home, you probably know a bit about the architectural style and its key characteristics. A rising suburban star from the mid-40s to the late 60s, when the end of World War II brought prosperity and a renewed interest in spending leisure time outdoors, the mid-century modern home was quite different from its European-influenced predecessors. 

With wide, low-slung profiles, muted color palettes, and natural construction materials, mid-century modern design marked the joining of home and landscape. No longer was the garden strictly ornamental or functional. It was a place to relax and entertain, an extension of the house itself. 

Restrained in both color palette and plant choice, the mid-century modern garden achieves simplicity and symmetry through clean bed lines and repetitive patterns. It features regionally appropriate plants. They are carefully chosen to respect the land on which the home was built and create garden ‘rooms’ to link inside and out. It favors texture over riotous color and opts for low-maintenance materials so life can be enjoyed.

If you’re designing or reviving a mid-century modern home garden, these principles can help you make choices appropriate to the architecture. Plant selections will vary according to region, but we’ve come up with a list of 25 trees, shrubs, and flowers that resonate well with the home style. Read on for a look at their unique characteristics and growing requirements.

Mikado California Poppies

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Single Blend Trailing Nasturtium Seeds

Indian Summer Black-Eyed Susan

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Black-Eyed Susan Seeds

Pagoda Dogwood

Pagoda dogwood's delicate flowers bloom in white and pink, adorning the plant gracefully. Its lush green leaves contrast against the stark purity of the blossoms. Positioned in direct sunlight, the plant thrives, basking in its radiant environment.
This plant enhances garden aesthetics with its distinctive bark and flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Cornus alternifolia
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 15-25 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

With a wide, horizontal branch structure, attractive bark, and a relatively modest height, pagoda dogwood looks perfectly at home in the mid-century modern garden. A profusion of simple, four-lobed flowers appears in early spring before most trees leaf out.

The petals are white to pink in color and lend themselves well to a calm overall palette. Clusters of red berries provide late-season interest and encourage visits from the local fauna. Plant one to anchor a walkway or two to frame the front porch. 

Japanese Maple

A close-up reveals the fiery hues of Japanese maple leaves in autumn, a vivid mosaic of crimson, orange, and gold. The slender stems and delicate branches gracefully hold the vibrant foliage, their intricate patterns adding to the tree's allure. Planted amidst lush greenery, the Japanese maple stands as a captivating centerpiece in the garden.
The Japanese maple, known for its horizontal branches, adds subtle color to landscapes.
botanical-name botanical name Acer palmatum
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 15-25 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

Another small tree with a horizontal branching habit, Japanese maple is an understory plant that brings muted color to the landscape. ‘Bloodgood’ is a mid-century modern garden favorite for its rich, dark burgundy leaves, while ‘Koto Ito Kamachi’ is prized for its feathery leaves and vivid green-orange color.

Japanese tree maple handles pruning well and provides a layered effect that resonates with a mid-century home’s low-slung facade. 

Blue Rug Juniper

A close-up of Blue Rug Juniper displays its needle-like leaves, each a vibrant shade of silvery-blue, arranged in dense clusters along its sprawling branches. Beneath the foliage, large pine bark nuggets mulch the ground, providing a contrasting texture and color that accentuates the juniper's beauty in the landscape.
This evergreen creeper adapts well to various soils and temperatures.
botanical-name botanical name Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4-6 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

This low-growing evergreen creeper has a max height of six inches and a spread of four to six feet. It adapts well to varying soil conditions and tolerates wild fluctuations in temperature.

Like its vertical juniper relatives, blue rug has attractive blue-green needles, grayish berries, and a light scent. It is often used as a ground cover in mid-century design, filling a geometric bed section or spilling over a terraced flagstone retaining wall.  


A close-up of boxwood plants reveals dense clusters of glossy, oval-shaped leaves, boasting a vibrant shade of deep green. These leaves also form a lush backdrop, providing an evergreen presence in the garden, enhancing its aesthetic appeal and creating a sense of tranquility.
‘Green gem’ boxwoods create geometric balance under a window.
botanical-name botanical name Buxus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-30 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Easily clipped into a ball or square, boxwood shrubs are a staple in mid-century modern garden design. A neat row of orb-shaped ‘green gem’ boxwoods below a living room picture window provides a nice geometric offset to a massive pane of glass.

A span of squared-off ‘baby jade’ boxwood lining the front walkway serves as a low extension of the home’s architectural form


A close-up of a Yew tree showcases its lush foliage, characterized by dark green needles arranged in a spiral pattern along its branches. The branches of the Yew tree are gracefully arching, lending an elegant silhouette to the landscape. Amidst the greenery, crimson berries add a striking contrast, attracting attention and wildlife alike.
While it resists tight shearing, Yew adapts to geometric designs.
botanical-name botanical name Taxus canadensis
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 3-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

A great choice for yards with shade or northern exposure, yew is a brighter, softer evergreen option for the mid-century landscape. Although it has a looser structure and does not take well to rigid shearing, it can be shaped into a clean mass that works well in a geometric design.

‘Monloo’ is a popular choice for foundation plantings. ‘Fastigiata’ grows a little taller and can be sheared into a neat privacy hedge. 


A cluster of Potentilla leaves, vibrant green in color, basking in sunlight. Each leaf has finely serrated edges. The leaves form a dense carpet, adding texture and depth to the garden bed.
Choose ‘Mount Everest’ for all-white gardens or ‘Tangerine’ to complement earth tones.
botanical-name botanical name Potentilla x hybrida
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-7

With a round, shrubby habit and blue-green leaf color, potentilla is another mid-century garden star. It offers a profusion of small, five-lobed flowers in yellow, white, orange, or pink for most of the summer.

Potentilla lends a restrained pop of color to the landscape. ‘Mount Everest’ is a solid choice for an all-white flower palette. ‘Tangerine’ will pick up earth tones from your mid-century home’s exterior. 


Lavender Rhododendron flowers, delicate and intricate, bloom in a stunning display of nature's beauty. Their petals unfurl gracefully, revealing a soft, ethereal hue that captivates the eye. Surrounding these blooms are lush green Rhododendron leaves, providing a verdant backdrop to the floral spectacle.
Blooming in early spring, Rhododendrons offer white, pink, red, or purple flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Rhododendron
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6-10 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Evergreen in most climates, rhododendron shrubs have dark green, glossy leaves and a wide-spreading branch habit that lends color and structure to a mid-century modern garden design.

Flowering in early spring before many other plants have woken up, rhododendrons offer a mass of white, pink, red, or purple flowers for about three weeks, depending on the weather. ‘Girard’s Crimson’ incorporates well into a muted, primary color scheme.

Red Yucca

A close-up of Red Yucca reveals vibrant red flowers with delicate petals, adding a pop of color to the garden. The long, slender leaves of the Red Yucca create an elegant contrast with their deep green hue, enhancing the overall visual appeal.
When planted in rows, red yucca mimics the look of boxwoods.
botanical-name botanical name Hesperaloe parviflora
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-10

Native to the deserts of Texas and Mexico, red yucca thrives in hot, dry locations. Its blue-green leaves are the star of the show, averaging two to three feet in length and one inch in width. Fanning out from a central rosette, they hold firm and keep their shape year-round.

Perfect for a mid-century home in an arid region, yuccas send up spikes of red, yellow, or pink flowers for most of the season. Plant them in a tidy row, and they achieve the same effect as a string of boxwoods. 


A close-up of Nasturtium showcases stunning yellow and orange flowers that radiate warmth and cheerfulness. In the background, a rustic brown wood fence adds a charming and natural element, complementing the vibrant blooms of the Nasturtium.
Opt for trailing types like ‘Canary Creeper’ for a cascading effect.
botanical-name botanical name Tropaeolum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-10 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones Annual Plant, 2-11

An edible plant with a peppery taste, nasturtium grows quickly from seed to fill in a large space. Its leaves, which resemble water lily or lotus flower foliage, have an octagonal shape that works with the geometry of a mid-century home garden.

Its jewel-toned flower colors (red, yellow, and orange) complement most mid-century exterior paint schemes. Plant a trailing variety like ‘Canary Creeper’ to spill over a terrace or retaining wall


A close-up of Begonia featuring pink wax Begonia flowers with delicate petals and vibrant color, contrasted against lush green leaves showcasing intricate veins and glossy texture. This scene captures the beauty of nature's harmonious blend of colors and textures in a botanical setting.
Begonias suit mid-century aesthetics with waxy green leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Begonia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 12-18 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

An annual in most hardiness zones, begonia has a profile that looks natural in a mid-century design. Its leaves are waxy and come in varied shades of green. Its flowers are small and simple in form, but they look beautiful when clustered together.

Plant ‘Bedding’ begonia at the feet of a pagoda dogwood, where they will be at home in the shade, or fill a low-slung terra cotta bowl with ‘Double Up White’ for a minimalist pop. 

California Poppy

A close-up of California Poppies showcasing vivid yellow flowers with delicate petals, set against a backdrop of lush green leaves. This scenery conveys the vibrant energy of a field of California Poppies, with each flower adding a splash of color to the natural landscape.
Varieties like ‘Golden West’ and ‘Mikado’ offer bright orange blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Eschscholzia californica
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-10

A mid-century favorite for its low-maintenance personality, earth-toned flower color, and high tolerance for drought, the California poppy lends a nice mass of color to a landscape that is otherwise mostly green.

At home amongst the yucca and oat grass, California poppy has loose, feathery foliage that mounds beneath a flower spray that persists from spring to mid-summer. ‘Golden West’ has classic, bright orange flowers with darker centers. ‘Mikado’ has darker, richer orange flowers and a little more height at 18 inches. 

Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile)

A close-up of Agapanthus plant. The vibrant blue flowers of Agapanthus bloom gracefully, displaying their delicate petals and intricate patterns. In the background, other flowers add a colorful contrast, creating a beautiful garden scene full of life.
Plant in a square planter for container growth in just a few years.
botanical-name botanical name Agapanthus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-11

With spikes of bell-shaped blooms standing tall above a cluster of strappy green leaves, purple-flowered agapanthus pairs nicely with the reds and oranges of a traditional mid-century home exterior.

This warm-season plant requires very little fuss (another mid-century priority) and stays green all year. Plant ‘Bressingham Blue’ in a square planter, and its rhizomatous roots will expand to fill the container in just a few years. 

Black-eyed Susan

A close-up of Black-eyed Susan plants. Black-eyed Susan's bright yellow flowers stand out with their dark centers, attracting bees and butterflies. The lush green leaves of Black-eyed Susan provide a lush backdrop, showcasing the plant's beauty and resilience in a garden setting.
The plant’s dense foliage originates from a basal rosette.
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia hirta
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Perfect for slopes or terraces, black-eyed Susan plants lend a little prairie charm wherever they are planted. Simple in form, with disk-shaped rays of cheerful yellow or orange flowers, this herbaceous perennial requires some deadheading but is otherwise very easy to care for.

The foliage is substantial and radiates from a basal rosette. Plant a row of ‘Indian Summer’ to hit warm, mid-century notes in a linear bed. Fill a pot with ‘Maya’ for a golden marigold vibe. 

Feather Reed Grass

A close-up of Feather reed grass, showcasing its slender, feathery blades with delicate texture and light green hue. These ornamental grasses are gracefully swaying in the breeze, planted amidst rich brown soil in a well-maintained garden.
Pink feathery flowers of feather reed grass add subtle color.
botanical-name botanical name Calamagrostis x acutiflora
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-11

Ornamental grass is a mid-century home staple, and feather reed grass is often the top choice for landscaping professionals. Whether planted en mass to create a rectangular swath of greenery or lined up along the driveway to create a natural privacy screen, feather reed grass offers four-season interest and texture.

The leaves are tall, slender, and upright, emerging green in spring and transitioning to brown toward the end of the season. Flowers are pink and feathery, rising slightly above the foliage with subtle coloring that complements a muted overall palette

Prairie Dropseed

A close-up of Prairie dropseed shoots, featuring their narrow, elongated leaves with a vibrant green color and fine, serrated edges. This native grass species thrives in a natural setting, planted in soil enriched with dried grass mulch for optimal growth and sustainability.
Pinkish-brown flowers in late summer complement mid-century landscapes.
botanical-name botanical name Sporobolus heterolepis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Valued for its rounded habit and low-maintenance care, prairie dropseed offers tufts of thread-like, fine-textured leaves that change from green to orange to copper as the season progresses.

Plant 20 of them in a tidy row to achieve a linear connection to your mid-century home, or plant 100 to replace traditional turf grass in a section of the front yard. Pinkish-brown flowers float above the foliage in late summer, resonating with the subdued color palette of a typical mid-century landscape. 

Dwarf Mondo Grass

A close-up of Dwarf mondo grass, showcasing its dense, dark green foliage. The leaves are slender and arch gracefully, creating a lush carpet effect. This ornamental grass is perfect for adding texture and contrast to garden borders or rock gardens.
This grass is a popular choice for low-maintenance lawns.
botanical-name botanical name Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 3-6 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-10

A popular choice for mid-century homeowners who request a ‘no-mow lawn,’ dwarf mondo grass provides the color, texture, and greenery of traditional grass without all the chemicals and maintenance.

Its fountain-shaped puffs of narrow foliage tolerate moderate foot traffic and heavy shade. As a bonus, it offers tiny racemes of simple white flowers in summer. Plant some in the gaps of a stone walkway or in the dappled shade of a pagoda dogwood’s broad canopy. 


A close-up of Japanese Pachysandra flowers, revealing delicate white blooms arranged in clusters. The leaves are oval-shaped and arranged in whorls along the stems, creating a dense ground cover. Their lush appearance adds a vibrant green backdrop to garden landscapes.
Use Pachysandra under trees or in shaded beds for a lush look.
botanical-name botanical name Pachysandra terminalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6-12 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Hitting distinct Japanese garden notes that pair well with mid-century architecture, pachysandra is a semi-evergreen groundcover that spreads by rhizome to fill in a large space quickly. Primarily a foliage plant, pachysandra features whorls of leaves in multiple shades of green and small white flowers in spring.

Use it as mulch beneath an ornamental tree or to occupy segments of a shady, terraced bed. Try ‘Green Carpet’ for dark, waxy leaves and uniform growth or ‘Vairegata’ for white leaf highlights. Note that this plant is classed as an invasive species in parts of North America. Check with your extension office before planting.

Hens and Chicks

A close-up of Hens and chicks plant, showcasing its rosette structure with tightly packed succulent leaves. The leaves are fleshy, green, and shaped like chubby fingers, giving the plant a unique appearance.
Lovely hens and chicks thrive as ornamental ground cover, with graphic texture and slow growth.
botanical-name botanical name Sempervivum tectorum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-6 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

For mid-century homes in coastal or mountain regions, hens and chicks plant often plays the role of ornamental grass. This small, fleshy succulent thrives in sandy, gravely soil and enjoys full sun. It spreads easily by offshoots (the chicks) but grows relatively slowly.

The leaves are pointed and arranged in a three to four-inch rosette. They can be bronze (‘Bossieri’), red-orange (‘Sunset’), or bright green (‘Windstille’) and provide graphic texture when planted in geometric beds. 


A close-up of the Heuchera plant, highlighting its striking magenta leaves with delicate veins. These leaves create a vibrant contrast against the surrounding foliage, adding a splash of color to any garden. The Heuchera's lushness is evident in its healthy, dense foliage, making it a favorite for ornamental landscapes.
With low maintenance, these plants offer time for landscape enjoyment.
botanical-name botanical name Heuchera spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-20 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Prized for its foliage, which is large and palmately lobed, heuchera comes in shades of bronze, maroon, green, and gold that pair well with mid-century home exteriors. It’s also a very low-maintenance plant, allowing homeowners to spend their time enjoying the landscape rather than working in it.

The flowers are small and understated in color, arriving in sprays by midsummer. Plant ‘Palace Purple’ for two-toned foliage that hits olive and burgundy notes or ‘Palace Pistachio’ for a pop of bright green. 


A close-up of Hosta plants showcasing their vibrant green leaves with prominent veins and a smooth texture. These Hosta plants are nestled in rich soil alongside lush green grasses and other verdant foliage, creating a harmonious garden scene.
Insignificant flowers of Hosta plants add subtle summer color.
botanical-name botanical name Hosta spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6 inches to 4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Another plant where the foliage is the star, hosta tolerates shade and fills in nicely at the feet of other plants. With large fleshy leaves that are ovate to oblong in shape, hosta grows in a neat clump that resonates with other orb-shaped plants in the mid-century garden.

Tall sprays of insignificant flowers add a bit of color without demanding too much attention in summer. Try ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ for a small-scale patio edging or 3-foot, bright green ‘Sum and Substance’ for a shrub-like effect. 

Japanese Painted Fern

A close-up of Japanese Painted Ferns highlighting their delicate fronds with striking purple and silver hues. These ferns thrive in rocky soil, their elegant foliage adding a touch of elegance and natural beauty to the landscape.
Enhance mid-century modern homes with the vibrant colors of Japanese Ferns.
botanical-name botanical name Athyrium niponicum
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Japanese painted ferns feature 20-inch triangular fronds in shades of maroon, green, gray, and silver. They pair well with the earthy color scheme of a mid-century modern home. Perfect for beds with northern exposure or dappled shade,

Japanese fern offers texture and personality without stealing the show. It requires very little attention and has no significant issues with insects or disease. ‘Godzilla’ has dusty green leaves and purple midribs, while ‘Pictum’ offers shades of silver and red. 

Final Thoughts

Simplicity, geometry, repetition, and restraint are the cornerstones of mid-century modern gardening. Think of your landscape as an extension of the home and divide it into zones for leisure, function, privacy, etc.

Make sure the views from your home are enjoyable and harmonize with the land surrounding it. No single plant should hog the spotlight or consume too much of your free time with its care. Keep these principles in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to a mid-century garden that looks natural and feels right for your home. 

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