18 Popular Plants With White Flowers

Picture of white flowers of oakleaf hydrangea bush.
David Beaulieu

White-flowering plants are often overlooked in landscape design because, well, they're not very colorful. But white flowers often many benefits in garden design. They can help brighten dark areas of the landscape, and they offer a neutral color in mixed plantings, allowing brighter hues to seem even brighter. White flowers can also be used to soften the effect of loud color schemes or stand on their own in a monochromatic scheme—an all-white garden, for example.

Just because a particular white-flowering plant has been popular over the years does not mean that it remains a good choice if you are shopping for good plants for today's landscape. There are some once-popular plant that now have earned reputations for invasiveness or poor performance, and you may want to steer away from them as you make your choices for today's landscape.

Here are 18 white-flowering plants that are popular in landscapes—plants that you may see in ay locations. Some remain very good choices, while others can no longer be recommended with the same enthusiasm they once enjoyed.

  • 01 of 18

    Mountain Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

    Picture of Mountain Laurel Shrubs
    Flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. David Beaulieu

    Mountain laurel (Laurus nobilis) is a broadleaf evergreen shrub growing 5 to 14 feet tall, blooming in late spring. Both the flowers and the glossy green foliage bear a resemblance to rhododendrons, which often is a partner in landscape design. The bloom period for mountain laurel is quite long, lasting several weeks. The flowers are often rose or pink in color, but some cultivars have brilliant white flowers with purple markings.

    Mountain laurel works well in shrub borders or to anchor large perennial border gardens. It is often massed in woodland gardens and can also be used in shady foundation plantings. Mountain laurel remains a good choice for a white-flowering shrub, though there is one caveat: All parts of this plant are toxic if they are ingested. The plant contains a grayanotoxin compound that can cause a variety of cardiac, respiratory, and gastrointestinal symptoms. There are even cases of poisoning from people who eat honey from bees that have collected nectar from mountain laurel flowers.  

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-9
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Color Variations: White, pink, rose
    • Soil Needs: Cool, moist, rich, acidic
  • 02 of 18

    Daffodil (Narcissus Group)

    Picture of White Daffodil Flowers
    Flowers bloom in early spring. David Beaulieu

    In addition to the classic yellow varieties, there are also white daffodils found in several species in the Narcissus genus. Narcissus is a complicated genus of plants, and the species and cultivars tend to be grouped into classes known commonly as "daffodils," "jonquils," or "paperwhites," but it is also completely proper to know the entire range of Narcissus species and hybrids simply as daffodils. As you might guess, the paperwhite group includes most of the white-flowering daffodils, but there are also white cultivars to be found in the other groups.

    Whatever you call them, daffodils are spring-blooming bulbs that are among the first flowers to appear in spring. The are perennial in colder climates, since they need a notable chilling period in order to bloom. In warmer climates, artificially chilled bulbs are sometimes planted as annual plants.

    White daffodil is a classic standard that remains an excellent choice if you want a white-flowering bulb for the early spring.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3-8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Color Variations: Yellow, white
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
  • 03 of 18

    Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

    Picture of Star Magnolia Tree
    Flowers bloom in early spring. David Beaulieu

    Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) is a small deciduous tree growing to 15 to 20 feet tall. It has a rounded crown and is sometimes used as a large mounded shrub in the landscape. Star magnolia blooms with magnificent start-shaped white flowers in early spring before nearly all other plants and even before its glossy green leaves appear.

    Because star magnolia trees are among the earliest flowers to greet us each spring, a special place in our hearts is reserved for them: they come to the rescue after the long winter, when our psyches most desperately crave floral color. It holds true for all of the earliest bloomers: whatever other fine qualities they may possess, plants such as star magnolia trees win us over most of all with their timeliness.

    • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Color Variations: White
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained
  • 04 of 18

    Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana)

    Picture of Callery Pear Tree.
    Popular Street Tree, Despite Susceptibility to Wind Damage Flowers bloom in spring. David Beaulieu

    Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) is a spring-flowering deciduous tree that was once very popular, thanks to its tolerance for urban conditions. The 'Bradford' cultivar has been especially prevalent. However, there are a number of flaws with this tree, and many experts now caution against planting it. The tree is quite weak and notorious for suffering broken branches in storms. Further, the tree is regarded as invasive over large sections of the lower Midwest and upper South.

    The tree is fairly easy to recognize thanks to its profuse early spring blooms, the dark green leaves with wavy margins, and good fall color. The pear fruits have the classic shape but are quite small. You can count yourself as lucky if you already have one of these profuse-flowering trees that is in good condition, but it's probably a poor choice if you are looking for a spring-blooming tree for your landscape.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5-9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Color Variations: White
    • Soil Needs: Consistently moist, humusy, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 18 below.
  • 05 of 18

    Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

    Picture of Autumn Clematis Vines
    Flowers bloom in early fall. David Beaulieu

    Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is a semi-woody vine that is among the more prolific of the Clematis species, growing as much as 30 feet with creamy white flowers that blanket the plant from August through September. This plant blooms later than most clematis plants and is considerably more fragrant (hence the "sweet" monicker).

    Sweet autumn clematis is great for blanketing structures you want to hide, or for covering large unattractive shrubs. Planted in open spaces, it can serve as a sprawling ground cover. But be aware that this plant readily self-seeds and can naturalize in surrounding landscapes; it is considered invasive over scattered areas of the Southeast U.S. There may be better choices for a white-flowering vine, including other varieties of clematis or star jasmine.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Color Variations: Creamy white
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained, slightly acidic
  • 06 of 18

    Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

    Confederate jasmine vine flowering while climbing a wall.
    Lisa Kling/Getty images

    In areas where you want the fragrance and plentiful white blooms of a vining plant, star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is probably a better choice than the often-invasive sweet autumn clematis. Also known as "confederate jasmine," this is a native plant in the American Southeast. The fragrance of the flowers is the reason the plant is known as a jasmine, even though it is not a jasmine at all, belonging to an entirely different genus.

    Star jasmine is a relatively small vine, growing to only about 6 feet, with glossy green leaves on brown stems. The plant flowers with star-shaped creamy white flowers in late spring and early summer. It is very often grown as a container plant on decks and patios, and in colder climates it can be brought indoors to overwinter.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8-10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Color Variations: Creamy white
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained; standard potting mix when grown in containers
  • 07 of 18

    Korean Spice Vibernum (Viburnum carlesii)

    Picture of Koreanspice viburnum flower head.
    Korean Spice Viburnum Picture of Koreanspice viburnum flower head. David Beaulieu

    Korean spice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) is a slow-growing deciduous shrub with a rounded shape. Growing 4 to 6 feet tall, its flower clusters are white with pink tinges, blooming in early to mid-spring. The blossoms of Korean spice viburnums are among the landscape's most fragrant flowers. It is often planted in small masses or mixed with other broadleaf shrubs in shrub borders or islands. If you prune this shrub, do it immediately after flowering to ensure good blooms the following spring.

    This remains a good choice if you're looking for a smallish white-flowering shrub that is easy to maintain.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Color Variations: White
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained, slightly acidic
  • 08 of 18

    Sweet Allysum (Lobularia maritima)

    White alyssum picture. Sweet white alyssum is an annual.
    White Alyssum White alyssum picture. David Beaulieu

    Mixed with other bedding plants, a carpet of white alyssum (Lobularia maritima) can serve as a filler and neutral color that helps other plants shine. Alternatively, planted by itself, this flower can function as a temporary ground cover for cooler times of the year. While it is technically a perennial in warmer regions, sweet alyssum is usually categorized and grown as an annual.

    In regions with very hot mid-summer months, sweet alyssum is sometimes removed after the summer begins to heat up, then replanted as the weather begins to cool in early fall. Or, the plants can be heavily sheared back when the weather warms and allowed to come back strong when cooler conditions return.

    If you're the type of gardener who bothers only with the new and flashy (or who grows nothing but perennials), then white alyssum may not be for you. But if you strive to make your yard look like a million bucks during the summer, there's a place in your landscaping for annuals such as alyssum.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Hardy in zones 5-9, but usually grown as an annual in all zones.
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Color Variations: White, purple, pale pink
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, rich, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 18 below.
  • 09 of 18

    Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

    Picture of snow in summer.
    Snow in Summer Picture of snow in summer. David Beaulieu

    Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) is a short-lived perennial plant with a low, mat-forming growth habit that blooms with white flowers that carpet the plants in early summer. But snow in summer is about more than just the blooms. Its silvery foliage recommends it for use in combination with all sorts of other plants, and it has a velvety feel. Plants with silver foliage are not only attractive to admire in isolation but can provide an interesting backdrop for the flowers of other plants. Try snow-in-summer in a planting bed featuring the flowers of red salvia, for instance.

    Like white flowers, leaves of a silver color are also great choices for moon gardens, because they show up at night relatively well. Happily, snow in summer has both those attributes going for it. Snow-in-summer makes a good ground cover for sunny areas, but the plants are short-lived and within a few years, bare patches begin to appear, requiring that you dig up the plants, divide them, and replant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3-7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Color Variations: White; pink cultivars also available
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained; good tolerance for sandy soil
  • 10 of 18

    Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius)

    Mock orange picture. The flowers of mock orange bear a citrusy smell.
    Old-Time Favorite Shrub Mock orange picture. David Beaulieu

    Mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius) is a deciduous shrub that grows 10 to 12 feet tall with a suckering growth habit on arching branches. It blooms in late spring or early summer with white flowers that have a heavenly scent. Although this plant doesn't have a lot of appeal other than the flowers, it does accept pruning well (prune it immediately after flowering is complete), so it is often grown as a hedge. It also works well in foundation plantings or for low screens or shrub borders. This is not the most spectacular of white-flowering shrubs, but the delightful aroma of the flowers will make it all worthwhile for many gardeners. There are also cultivars with variegated or golden yellow foliage.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Color Variations: White
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained
  • 11 of 18

    Daphne (Daphne spp. and Hybrids)

    Picture of daphne with its white flowers. Buds on daphne start out pink but produce white flowers.
    Daphne Shrubs Picture of daphne with its white flowers. David Beaulieu

    The Daphne genus of woody deciduous shrubs includes several species and hybrids that are common landscape choices. Especially popular is Carol Mackie (Daphne × burkwoodii  'Carol Mackie') and Briggs Moonlight (Daphne x burkwoodii 'Briggs Moonlight'), both variegated forms.

    White to light pink in color, the tubular flowers of daphne shrubs unfurl in clusters, usually in May.. 'Briggs Moonlight' has flowers that are pure white, but the flower buds, which are pink, are just as attractive as the flowers.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-9
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Color Variations: White, pink
    • Soil Needs: Moist, rich, well-drained; good tolerance for sandy but rich soils
  • 12 of 18

    Lilac (Syringa spp.)

    Photo of white lilacs. The flowers of lilacs are commonly white, purple, or lavender.
    White Lilacs Photo of white lilacs. David Beaulieu

    In addition to the more common purple-flowering varieties, the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) have cultivars that bloom with white flowers. 'Madame Lemoine' is a good white-flowering variety. 'White Angel' is another to consider. Common lilacs bloom in April to May. These are multi-stemmed shrubs that can grow as tall as 15 feet.

    White flowers are more prevalent with Japanese lilac (Syringa reticulata), which are deciduous tree forms. Most of its cultivars are have creamy or yellowish-white, blooming in June. These plants have a tree-like form, growing to as much as 30 feet tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2-7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Color Variations: White, lavender-blue, deep purple, yellow
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 18 below.
  • 13 of 18

    Queen Ann's Lace (Daucus carota var. carota)

    Picture of Queen Anne's Lace Flower
    Flowers bloom in summer. David Beaulieu

    If you think that the foliage of Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota var. carota) reminds you of carrots, you are exactly right: This native wildflower is closely related to the garden carrot (D. carota var. sativus) and is sometimes called wild carrot. Queen Anne's lace grows 1 to 4 feet tall and has the same lacy foliage as garden carrot. It blooms with clusters of tiny white flowers in late summer.

    This is a perennial plant that doesn't bloom until its second year, but it self-seeds so freely that a bed of Queen Anne's lace will produce flowers perpetually. This self-seeding habit can makes the plant quite aggressive in ideal circumstances, and it is listed as an invasive species in Iowa, Michigan, and Washington, and is strongly discouraged in other areas, as well. Like many wildflowers, some people regard it as a weed.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3-9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Color Variations: White with red or purple centers
    • Soil Needs: Loose, well-drained
  • 14 of 18

    Ornamental Onion (Allium spp.)

    Picture of white allium flowers.
    A Garlic Relative Used Ornamentally Flowers bloom in late spring. David Beaulieu

    You don't need rich soil to grow alliums, nor are they eaten by rodent or deer pests. The ornamental flowering alliums, although relatives of plain old garlic and onion, are much more impressive bloomers. Nor are you restricted to white blooms. 'Globemaster' allium, for instance, bears striking purple blossoms. Some good white-flowering varieties include Allium stiputatum 'White Giant', Allium 'White Everest', and Allium nigrum. The flowers of ornamental onions are typically globe-shaped, resembling exploding fireworks. The flower heads are actually composed of numerous star-shaped florets (up to 1,000 of them).

    Ornamental onions typically bloom in summer. Because the foliage is rather sparse and fades quickly after flowering, allium bulbs are usually interspersed among other perennials. The white-flowering varieties work well with just about any other flowers since you don't need to worry about color clashes.

    Allium remains a great choice for a white-flowering plant in just about any garden.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Color Variations: White, purple, lavender
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained; excellent in sandy soils
  • 15 of 18

    Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana)

    Picture of white cleome flowers.
    Also Called "Cat's Whiskers," "Spider Plants" Flowers bloom in summer. David Beaulieu

    White cleome flowers (Cleome hassleriana) carry the common names "spider plants" and "cat's whiskers" due to the unusual appearance of the flower heads At 3 to 6 feet tall, cleome flowers are tall enough to be planted in the back row of a garden. Although generally planted as an annual, this plant reseeds readily and easily establishes an ongoing presence, though you will need to pluck out unwanted volunteers. Some good pure white cultivars include 'Sparkler White' and 'White Queen'.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Hardy in zones 10-11; grown as annuals everywhere
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Color Variations: White, pink, purple
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 16 of 18

    Candytuft (Iberis Sempervirens)

    Candytuft picture. A perennial flower, candytuft is a brilliant white color.
    Perennial With Brilliant White Blossom Candytuft picture. Candytuft has a bright white-colored flower. David Beaulieu

    There are "white" flowers, and then there are those with "brilliant-white" blossoms. Candytuft falls into the latter category. A perennial plant, candytuft's bright white blossom glistens like few others in the garden. Growing 6 to 12 inches tall with shrubby stems, this plant is often used as an edging plant or planted in rock gardens or in the gaps in stone retaining walls. It blooms from early to late spring, and may be evergreen in warmer zones. In cooler climates, it may need some protection over the winter. Periodically cutting back the stems will help rejuvenate the plants and keep them compact.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3-8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Color Variations: White
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained; good tolerance for drought
    Continue to 17 of 18 below.
  • 17 of 18

    Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

    Picture of sweet woodruff. As this picture of sweet woodruff shows is a groundcover.
    Groundcover With White Flowers Picture of sweet woodruff. As this picture of sweet woodruff shows, the groundcover can grow under trees. David Beaulieu

    Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is a mat-forming perennial plant growing 9 to 12 inches tall with lance-shaped leaves and white flowers that bloom in spring. It is an excellent ground cover plant for shady areas, such as beneath trees. It spreads through creeping rhizomes and by self-seeding, but is easily controlled simply by shearing off the plants with a lawnmower. It is known as "sweet" woodruff because the leaves are intensely aromatic when crushed or cut; they are sometimes used to flavor teas and cold drinks.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Color Variations: White
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture to wet, well-drained
  • 18 of 18

    Dwarf (Slender) Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko')

    Dwarf deutzia.
    David Beaulieu

    Deutzia gracilis' Nikko' often goes by the common names dwarf deutzia or slender deutzia. It is a short shrub (2 feet) and is therefore often treated as a ground cover rather than as a typical shrub. It spreads out to a width of 5 feet at maturity. While its white flowers are not big, they occur in clusters that form a nice, bright display for about two weeks in spring. These plants are often used in shrub borders, in foundation plantings, or for informal hedges. They are also sometimes found in sunny rock gardens.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5-8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Color Variations: White
    • Soil Needs: Moist, humusy, well-drained; good tolerance for most soil types

When planning color for your garden, don't discount the merit of white-flowering plants, which will brighten dark areas and make other colors seem all the brighter.