When planning your garden, one of the most important factors to consider is its location and the impact it has on light.
East-facing gardens will get cool morning sun. Your west-facing garden offers a great balance of morning shade and hot afternoon sun.
That being said, it does not have blinding hot sun at mid-day which many plants don’t enjoy.
So, planning and planting a west-facing garden is fun. You can choose plants that can deal with shade, but also enjoy a good amount of sunshine.
You will be awestruck at how many choices you have.
Planting in a west-facing garden means that your plants will get sun in the afternoon and into the evening.
They will also get the benefit of the hot afternoon sun, rather than cool morning sun in an east-facing garden.
Here are some glorious plants that are perfect for a west-facing garden or patio.
Which are the best plants for west-facing gardens?
- Verbena bonairiensis
- Phlox paniculata
- Elder tree
- Camellia japonica
- Phemeranthus calycinus (Fameflower)
- Penstemon (Beardtongue)
- Campanula (Bellflower)
- Leucanthemum x superbum (Snowcap Shasta Daisy)
- Polygonatum × hybridum (Solomon’s seal)
- Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)
1. Verbena bonairiensis
Verbena bonairiensis creates an attractive display of tall, swaying stems topped with lovely deep-lilac flowers that bloom from early summer until the frost starts.
It is happy to grow in a west-facing garden that gets afternoon sun and will tolerate the morning shade.
Plant into average, well-draining soil, and don’t worry too much about it. It is hardy and will flourish happily with watering now and again.
Verbena bonairiensis can reach heights of 3 feet to 6 feet (90cm to 180cm), making a tall attraction in your west-facing garden.
The flowers of Verbena bonairiensis also look great as cut flowers in a vase. Use some to bring a touch of nature into your home.
It also attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, just what you want to create a relaxing, natural garden setting.
2. Phlox paniculata
If you find that plants in your west-facing garden are not growing as expected, don’t become despondent.
West-facing gardens are not classified as full-sun gardens. They only get a few hours of afternoon sun before evening comes.
If you have plants that require 8 hours or more of sun, they will not be happy in your west-facing garden and this has nothing to do with you not having green fingers.
The Phlox paniculata is a great choice for a west-facing garden.
They offer lovely showy flowers that bloom through the summer and fall seasons.
The flowers are glorious shades of bi-color pink, white, rose and red. They also have a delightful fragrance.
So plant this near a window where the aroma can waft into your living space.
Caring for Phlox paniculata is easy. Plant into moderately fertile, well-draining soil.
Water from time to time to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
This plant looks great as a single focal point or in groupings. They are also fabulous to plant in borders.
3. Elder tree
If you have a west-facing garden, you need to think about the afternoon sun. Plants that thrive best in these gardens enjoy the hot sun for a short part of the day and do well in the cooler morning shade.
The Elder tree is a great favorite for west-facing gardens. This age-old tree has been grown for generations.
The fruits can be used in wines, syrups, and cordials.
It grows as a shrub with lovely fern-like foliage.
The glossy black berries come in a large variety. Some of the common names are Aurea, Black Beauty, Black Lace, and Marginata.
Elder is not a fussy plant and does well in most soil types. It requires minimal attention, but extra water is needed if your growing season is very dry.
Once the fruits appear, do not leave them too long on the branches – the birds will have a feast. Pick them and try out your cooking skills.
Plant your elder in your west-facing garden as a specimen tree and a conversation starter.
4. Camellia japonica
When it comes to light and sun, Camellia japonica enjoys part-shade. That is why it is a great choice for your west-facing garden.
In fact, if it gets too much direct sun or too much shade, it will not be happy. West-facing gardens offer just the correct balance of shade and sun for your Camellia to flourish.
Camellia japonica is native to Korea, China, and Japan.
It is an evergreen shrub that offers stunning rose-pink and reddish-pink blooms.
Some gardeners claim that Camellias are the best flowering shrubs. Even more reason to include some in your west-facing garden.
Camellias like to be protected from the early morning sun, so your west-facing garden is ideal. They will not get the early morning sun! They may require protection from very cold dry winds, though.
This plant is easy to grow and once established requires low maintenance. Ensure that your soil is rich in organic fertilizer, well-draining, and slightly acidic.
Do you think that your west-facing garden is not getting enough afternoon sun?
Take a look around and see if the natural light is being blocked by tall trees or hedges. Trim them if possible to allow the afternoon sun into your space.
Try to plant taller trees, screens, and hedges on the east side, to minimize blocking out the afternoon sun.
5. Phemeranthus calycinus (Fameflower)
The Fameflower has a unique habit of opening its flowers in the hot afternoon sun. That is why it is a perfect choice for your west-facing garden or deck.
West-facing gardens get the hot afternoon sun while remaining shady in the morning. Phemeranthus calycinus will be very happy.
This lovely plant offers rose-violet and rose-red flowers with yellow stamens. Flowers will bloom in summer for up to 4 weeks.
Fameflower is a hardy plant and is tolerant of drought. Plant into average soil that is well-draining. It is also happy in rocky or sandy soil.
Choose Fameflowers to add color and interest to rock gardens. They look glorious in borders and in patio containers.
You can also plant them into small spaces where larger shrubs won’t grow.
Having a west-facing garden means that you can relax after a hard day and enjoy your little corner of nature while the sun sets.
These gardens are cool in the morning but are lovely and warm later in the day.
When choosing plants for your west-facing garden, you need to know that they can tolerate morning shade and hotter afternoon sun.
Tulips are a must-have in your west-facing gardens.
They are fun, bright, and colorful and come in great choices of white, red, pink, and yellow.
Plant these tulip bulbs during autumn and you will have a glorious spring garden bursting with color.
When it comes to position in a garden, tulips love the sun for part of the day. That is why they are ideal for a west-facing garden.
Plant into fertile, medium-moisture, well-draining soil. Plant your bulbs fairly deep into the soil – about 6 inches to 8 inches (15 cm to 20 cm). Place them with the pointed side upwards. Add organic fertilizer to feed them with nutrients.
Water well but don’t allow the soil to remain soggy, it must be able to drain.
Be patient and wait for these lovely plants to break through the soil when the weather becomes warmer.
Tulips also look lovely in containers. They make a showy display on any west-facing patio or deck.
Sometimes new gardeners become despondent if they don’t have a south-facing garden.
Reading about plants you will often see – plant in full sun. Full sun means 6 to 8 hours of sun (or even more), and your garden does not get that much.
But, don’t get dejected. There are so many beautiful plants that can thrive in part shade with warm afternoon sun. Jasmine is one of these.
Jasmine is the perfect choice for gracing a west-facing wall or fence. They love to climb and offer stunning white flowers with a beautiful tropical fragrance.
There are so many varieties of Jasmine, and for your west-facing garden, a Winter Jasmine will be ideal. This variety prefers more shady spots.
Plant into moist, well-drained moderately fertile, sandy loamy soil.
To get the best out of your outdoor Jasmine, encourage it to climb. You can allow it to climb a fence or set up a trellis. Make sure your trellis is strong as your Jasmine will grow and last for many years.
Relaxing in your garden as evening approaches is wonderful and the heady scent of Jasmine will add a romantic touch to the ambiance.
Daphne is another lovely plant that needs some sun but can also tolerate shade for part of the day. Perfect for a west-facing garden.
There are a lot of Daphne varieties for you to choose from. The Daphne odora is specifically known for its late-blooming season, offering lovely flowers in winter.
Daphne cneorum has a low-growing habit, making it ideal for rock gardens.
Daphne x burkwoodii is an interesting plant. It can be deciduous, semi-evergreen, or evergreen, depending on the climate zone you are in.
It also offers flowers in late spring and offers another burst of color in late summer.
Daphne plants like well-drained soil. They will not be happy in densely compacted soil or very soggy soil.
Check that your soil is slightly acidic. You can do this with a home PH kit.
Slightly acidic soils have a PH value of 6.0 to 6.5. You can add a layer of mulch to your soil to make your Daphne grow at its best.
Once established, Daphne is a low-maintenance plant and will thrive happily in your west-facing garden.
A note of care! Daphne plants are poisonous. So they are not suitable for homes with pets and children.
9. Penstemon (Beardtongue)
Plants that only want part sun are a great choice for your west-facing garden. In these gardens, there is no morning sun, so the conditions are ideal.
Penstemon, commonly known as Beardtongues are ideally suited for west-facing gardens.
They are happy with up to 4 hours of shade and 4 hours of sun, which is exactly what they will get in an optimum spot in your garden.
If you are not familiar with Beardtongue, it is a lovely shrub that offers tube-shaped two-lipped flowers.
In a way, they look like an open mouth with a fuzzy tongue protruding out – giving them the name beardtongue.
The flowers can range in color from pink and lavender to bold reds and even hues of blue. Leaves are green, blue-green, and as dark as purple.
This is a must-have for a garden that faces the west side.
Plant your Penstemon into well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.
Alkaline soil’s got a PH value of just over 7.0. If your PH is below 7.0, your soil is too acidic and your plant won’t be happy.
To make acidic soil more alkaline, you can add crushed lime, garden lime, or dolomite lime. Ask your local nursery for info.
Beardtongue is great to plant into raised beds. The flowers should remain dry while the roots have a small supply of water during the growing season.
There is a huge variety of Penstemon plants with exotic names.
Penstemon eatonii is called the Firecracker penstemon. It has fabulous bright red flowers that attract hummingbirds.
Penstemon palmeri, the Pink snapdragon is one of the few that has a fragrance. It also offers lovely light pink flowers that grow on tall stalks, as high as 6 feet (1.8m).
Penstemon pinifolius, the Pineleaf has evergreen foliage shaped like small pine needles. It also offers a show of red-orange blooms.
10. Campanula (Bellflower)
When you are planning your new west-facing garden you need to remember that your space will get hot sun in the afternoon and into the early evening.
It will not get sun in the morning. Mornings will be cool and shady.
Campanula, commonly known as Bellflowers, are a great choice for this environment. They enjoy the sun but you should protect them from the hot mid-day sun.
Bellflowers are named for their lovely open-cup-shaped flowers that resemble little bells.
The blooms come in many shades. Light blue and lavender are common, but you can also find hues of pink and white.
These charming plants are easy to grow and are ideal for beginners starting a west-facing garden. Plant into fertile, well-drained soil that is slightly alkaline.
They do well with a dose of liquid fertilizer in the growing season.
Do not fertilize your Bellflowers during winter. They need to rest after the flowering period.
If you enjoy fussing over your plants, you can cut them down in winter to ground level. It will regrow in spring as a rejuvenated plant.
If you have a west-facing garden you probably also have west-facing walls. West-facing walls are great for many plants as they provide protection against cold winds and winter frost.
One plant that does extremely well against a west-facing wall is Ceanothus. This plant is sometimes known as buckbrush or soapbush.
This plant delights the eye with unusual blue flowers. A definite conversation starter!
It is also evergreen which means in winter you will still have color and won’t be looking at bare branches.
Ceanothus loves a sheltered spot, and your west-facing wall will provide the protection it needs.
Plant into moist but well-draining soil. Ensure that water will not stagnate in the soil as this can cause root rot and your plant will eventually die.
If you enjoy giving your plants loads of care, you can trim them back each year after flowering to maintain the shape.
If you prefer a wilder and less formal look, leave it to grow as it wishes!
The amount of light and sun that your west-facing garden gets is ideal for Ceanothus. Mornings will be cool and shady and afternoons will be sunny.
Geraniums are hardy plants that can tolerate sun and shade.
That makes them perfect for your west-facing garden. They will get shade in the morning, and sun in the afternoon until early evening.
Geraniums come in many varieties offering flowers in tones of pink, white, purple, and blue. I love to mix and match and create a colorful border or bed filled with Geraniums.
Ensure that your soil is well-draining. You can add peat and perlite into the soil mix to aid with aeration and drainage.
Make sure to water these plants weekly and allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions.
Geraniums do well if you deadhead them. This may sound dramatic to new gardeners but don’t worry!
Deadheading simply means that you remove the dead flowers after they have bloomed. This encourages new flowers to bloom for a second time in a row during the growing season.
Snip off your dead flowers with a clean cutter or a secateur.
When it comes to light, your geraniums will be happy with part of the day in full sun and will offer a fabulous display of color.
13. Leucanthemum x superbum (Snowcap Shasta Daisy)
I love daisies! They are fresh, fun, and always bring a smile to my face.
The Snowcap Shasta Daisy, also known as the Alaska Shasta Daisy, wants half sun and half shade. That makes it perfect for your west-facing garden.
West-facing gardens get no sun in the morning. They are cool and shady. As the day progresses, the sun will start to fall onto your garden in the afternoon and into the early evening.
The Snowcap Shasta Daisy is known for its large pure-white flowers with lovely yellow centers. Generally, they’re easy to grow, requiring low maintenance for them to thrive.
Flowers bloom for over 4 weeks, creating a gorgeous display in your west-facing garden.
This plant is’t very choosy about soil. Plant into average, well-draining soil that is not too moist.
Use these lovely daisies for mass planting to fill beds, borders, or grow alongside a garden path or a walkway.
They are very attractive to butterflies. A great way to bring extra color and movement into your living space.
14. Polygonatum × hybridum (Solomon’s seal)
Another great plant for a west-facing garden has the long complex name Polygonatum × hybridum (Solomon’s seal).
It can thrive in part sun and part shade, exactly what your west-facing garden offers through the day.
Solomon’s seal grows as a shrub offering long, arching stems of fern-like leaves.
During the late spring and early summer, Solomon’s seal blooms with gorgeous dangling, white, bell-shaped flowers with green tips.
For new gardeners, this plant is a dream because it is not fussy about the soil. It will grow in clay, loam, chalk, or sandy soil. Your soil can be neutral, acidic, or alkaline, so not much to worry about.
In your west-facing garden, Solomon’s seal will get part sun and part shade and will be very happy. Your mornings are cooler and shady, your afternoons are sunny and warmer.
A note of care! Every part of the plant’s toxic. Wear gloves when handling. And, they are not suitable for homes with children or pets.
15. Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)
One benefit of having a west-facing garden is that you can create the perfect cottage-style garden.
There are so many classic plants that love half sun and half shade. Lady’s Mantle, or Alchemilla mollis, is one of them.
This gorgeous, picture-perfect plant grows as a low bush that spills over rocks or the edges of your borders. It has lovely scalloped gray-green leaves and matching yellow-green blooms.
When it comes to light and sun, the very hot mid-day sun will burn or scorch its leaves. That’s why Lady’s mantle loves the light conditions in west-facing gardens.
Shady mornings and sunny afternoons create the perfect environment for this plant.
Lady’s mantle is easy to grow and requires low maintenance. Plant into fertile, moist, well-draining soil.
Take a walk in your garden in the early morning and see how glorious they look, covered with dew!
This shrub spreads fast, so allow space between plants when you are placing them in the soil.
You will soon have a luscious, green, stunning ground cover to add beauty to your west-facing garden.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.