7 plants for a Japanese garden

There are many plants that you can put in a Japanese-style garden. Trees, shrubs, ferns, bamboo … Some of them may (and should) have some part that is very decorative, be it the leaves, the flowers, … or both. And, although when looking for images of these gardens, it is normal to see that the color green predominates, that does not mean that the rest of the colors are excluded from the design.

In fact, apart from playing with different greenish tones, it is highly recommended to look for plants for a Japanese garden that stand out more, because doing so will help guide the visitor to the areas that you consider special. Here is a small selection .

Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)

Japanese maples are deciduous trees

The Acer palmatum is one of the protagonists of any Japanese garden. It has webbed leaves, with lobes more or less thin, which can be red, yellow, green, … In autumn it becomes a spectacle of color , and although in winter it loses its foliage, it has a bearing and an elegance that make it one of the most beautiful plants in the world .

There are many cultivars, for example:

  • Flavescens: it has green leaves and reaches a maximum height of 4 meters.
  • Heartbeat: it has red leaves and grows between 4 and 6 meters.
  • Inaba shidare: it has red leaves and reaches 3 to 5 meters.
  • Octopus: it has red leaves and grows between 2 and 4 meters.
  • Seyriu: it has green leaves and reaches 4 to 6 meters.

It grows in fertile and slightly acidic soils. Also, the climate must be temperate, and the humidity high. Resists down to -18ºC .

Bambusa vulgaris (common bamboo)

Bambusa vulgaris is a fast growing bamboo

The Bambusa vulgaris is a rhizomatous type of bamboo with very tall stems that reach 15 meters high and 9 cm thick. The leaves are lanceolate and green, quite numerous, something that gives the plant a very interesting aspect, being able to be used as a high hedge.

It is not demanding. Put it in a sunny area, at a distance of at least 5 meters from where most of the plants are, and enjoy. Resists down to -18ºC .


Camellia is a bush with beautiful flowers

The camellias , whether it is the camellia sinensis as Camellia japonica , are evergreen shrubs or small trees that grow between 2 and 11 meters high. Its leaves are somewhat leathery, dark green, and have a trunk from which branches often sprout a short distance from the ground. Undoubtedly, the beauty of these plants lies in their flowers: they measure up to 10 centimeters in diameter and can be simple (with a single crown of petals) or double, in red, white, pink, or bicolor.

Like the Japanese maple, it grows in soils whose pH is between 4 to 6, and which are also rich in organic matter. As for its rusticity, they withstand up to -5ºC .

Hosta fortunei (hosta)

Hosta fortunei is a rhizomatous plant

Image – Wikimedia / Stan Shebs

The Hosta fortunei is a perennial plant that, although it does not exceed 10 centimeters in height, forms rosettes of spectacular green or variegated leaves. Of course, you have to know that these die in winter, but in spring they will sprout again from the rhizome, and they will do so at a good pace, making it a highly recommended species to cover the ground.

It will live in shade, or semi-shade, as long as the soil is slightly acidic. It supports frosts of up to -7ºC , but it is important that you do some preventive treatment against snails and slugs, since these are animals that love the leaves of this plant. In this article we tell you what are the remedies that may be useful for that purpose.

Juniperus chinensis (Chinese juniper)

Chinese juniper is a perennial conifer

Image – Wikimedia / Hawk666

The Juniperus chinensis is an evergreen conifer that can grow as a bush a few meters, or tree up to 20 meters . The adult leaves are flake-shaped, while the young needles. Both are part of a very dense glass, which can be green or yellowish depending on the variety and / or cultivar.

It is not very demanding in cultivation, since the only thing it needs is sun and a temperate climate. It supports frost down to -15ºC without problems.

Prunus serrulata (Japanese cherry)

The Japanese cherry is a deciduous tree

Image – Wikimedia / Myrabella

The Prunus serrulata is a deciduous tree about 10 meters high . It develops a straight trunk and a wide crown very densely populated with leaves with an ovate-lanceolate shape. In spring it blooms at the same time as the leaves emerge. The flowers are pink or white, and appear in groups.

It grows in temperate climates and fertile soils, which do not puddle, and where the humidity of the environment is high. He likes the sun, and frosts of up to -18ºC do not harm him.

Strelitzia augusta (bird of paradise flower)

The Strelitzia nicolai is a tree plant

Image – Wikimedia / Myrabella

The Strelitzia augusta is a rhizomatous perennial that can reach 10 meters in height . From a very young age, buds sprout, so if they are left over time, they form very beautiful groups (although I recommend removing them if there is not much space in the garden). Its stem is a false thin trunk, about 30 centimeters thick, and the leaves are lanceolate, up to 1 meter long. It produces flowers in summer.

It prefers sunny places and well-drained soils. It is perfect for tropical and subtropical regions, but it also tolerates light frosts of up to -2ºC , perhaps -3ºC if it is a little protected, for example, by a wall or other plants.

Wisteria (wisteria)

Wisteria is a deciduous shrub

Image – Flickr / williamnyk

All types of Wisteria will look great in a Japanese garden. These climbing plants have deciduous leaves, green in color, and made up of 13 to 19 leaflets. They reach a height of up to 10 meters , but since they tolerate pruning well it is easy to control their growth. During spring, large clusters of hanging flowers sprout, about 30 centimeters long, and purple or white depending on the variety.

He likes temperate climates, where the humidity is high. The soil must be rich, slightly acidic, and light. Otherwise, they withstand frosts down to -18ºC.

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