When it comes to MCM landscaping, the plants we tend to favor the shape and style of the foliage rather than the flowers. (Climate zone is another factor to consider. To learn more, see Know Your Zone! Pick Plants for Your Climate Zone.) But there are some stunning flowering plants that will not only add color to your mid century garden, but help you show off its modernist curb appeal too! Here our 11 of our favorites.
Having cactus in your yard is a classic for Mid Century Modern homes. There are several cacti that bloom in the spring. Perodia, or ball cactus, is one of them. In fact, perodia is a large genus of over 50 different cactus species, and most of them flower. Their size depends on the species, but many stay small and can be used as house plants. Others grow larger—perfect for your mid century garden.
This orange-flowering plant is an annual that you can grow from seed. With its MCM-friendly orange color and interesting leaf shape, nastartium is a prime candidate for your mid century garden. It’s also an edible plant! You can eat both the leaves and flowers, which makes it great for salads. Nasturtium would make a good addition to a mid century vegetable garden.
Also known as the pincushion plant, this drought tolerant, deer resistant plant is great for giving your garden a tropical vibe. Waterwise and tolerant to wind, protea blooms from fall to spring and even when not in bloom, the sculptural shrub offers striking interest and shape to your garden.
Begonia is an annual, fast growing shade plant. Their dark-colored, succulent leaves and waxy-looking flowers make them great for MCM style. They have the hardy look and feel that works well with Mid Century Modern architecture and landscaping. Another flowering plant that can be used as a house plant, some species of begonia flower all year. Some species are also considered succulents, because they have succulent stems that hold so much water.
Succulents are another classic plant type for MCM landscaping. Kalanchoe is a succulent that has prolific blooms, and can be used as an indoor house plant, or as a mid century garden fixture outside. Kalanchoe does well in containers, and you can buy it in a variety of blooming colors, from red and yellow to pink. Since it’s a succulent, it doesn’t need too much watering, but does need several hours of direct sun every day (even indoors) to flower regularly.
Herbs in general are a good choice for your mid century garden, as they’re both fragrant and produce herbs you can use in the kitchen. Basil is a great herb to grow because not only will it provide you with leaves you can use in cooking and cocktails, but it smells amazing, especially when its flowering. The purple flowers of a basil plant are edible themselves (they make a good tea), and you can use them as garnish on your basil-filled dishes.
Another fun cactus to have indoors, on your patio or in your mid century garden, Christmas cactus has unusual draping leaves with ridged edges and bright pink flowers. It’s called Christmas cactus because it has a winter blooming cycle, much like the poinsettia. It prefers shade and humidity during the humidity, and won’t last during a frost, so it’s a good container plant you can bring inside during the winter months.
This is a flowering shrub that’s traditionally seen in coastal and Southern landscaping. But there are many varieties of azaleas that do well in different planting zones, and take both shade and sun. Most varieties bloom in the spring, which will give some color to your mid century garden.
Calandrinia spectabilis, or rock purslane, is a succulent that acts well as a ground cover. In milder climates, it can bloom from spring through fall, with tall stalks of poppy-like pink flowers. It’s a good plant for desert or drought-troubled areas because it’s a succulent that doesn’t need much watering.
Another blooming cactus, Mammillaria longimamma is relatively rare in the wild, even in its natural range in Mexico. It’s a great plant for your mid century garden, especially if you live in a desert climate, and will bloom with yellow flowers in the summertime. When its young, the plant will be solitary, but as it grows, it forms clumps that make it appear larger.
Another desert favorite, the California poppy is an annual that blooms with orange flowers in the spring. It needs full sun, and is the perfect annual to supplement amongst your other, non-blooming plants in your mid century garden during spring. This is also a good plant to try growing from seed indoors, before the last frost.
If you love Modern landscaping, don’t miss our Exteriors issue! From garden design to outdoor lighting, curb appeal essentials to patio furniture accessories, our annual Exterior & Landscaping Special is here to help you give the mod home of your dreams a garden to match. Take a tour of incredible mid century homes which exemplify indoor-to-outdoor style that will give you insight and inspiration for creating a cohesive and masterfully thought out design for your whole home. Get expert advice on everything from hardscaping to pools and water features! Order your copy here.