7 Popular Plants For Japanese Garden

Strolling in a Japanese garden is just like stepping into a tranquil sanctuary!

The artistic application of delicate and quaint elements in the garden such as stone garden lanterns, bridges, gravels etc. transforms the space into one brims with serene touch and intriguing zen sense.

Apart from the exquisite ornaments, plants play an important role as well in sprucing up the space and creating such peace-evoking oasis.

Here comes a list of 7 most popular plants for Japanese garden.

1 . Maple Tree

A Japanese garden will not be complete without maple tree established in there.

With its delicate form and palmate foliage that rich in colors, maple tree is set to be the focal point by adding a splash of color to the the garden.

Its leaves is yellowish green in spring and become dark green in summer, then eventually turn into striking orange-yellow or bloody-red in autumn.

Japanese Maple Tree

Even the maple tree defoliates during cold winter, the stunningly nostalgic view of the fallen leaves around the tree will stop traffic in the garden.

This enticing plant is not only popular in Japanese garden, but can match well in any other gardening styles.

Its changing-with-time foliage could make the garden take on fresh aspects of beauty in accordance with each passing season.

2 . Hosta plantaginea

Hosta plantaginea, also named as fragrant plantain lily or August lily, is a herbaceous perennial that native to China and Japan.

Grow in attractive and dense clumps, Hosta plantaginea features broadly ovate or heart-shaped waxy leaves, often in green and sometimes variegated depending on the species.

Hosta plantaginea looks best in late summer to autumn when clusters of trumpet-shaped pure white flowers (some cultivars provide lilac flowers) blossom on 30-inches high erecting spikes.

Hosta plantaginea (fragrant plantain lily / August lily)

The delicate fragrance that spread by its flowers is quite soothing to smell and carries so well in the air that will fill your yard with sweet perfume that could be sensed from afar.

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and will draw hummingbird to flock to your garden as well.

Hosta plantaginea is not picky on its growing soil, but do enjoy rich, moist and sandy loam that drains well.

Hosta plantaginea loves partial shade to full shade, so it is perfect for shaded areas in the garden as ground cover, or edging the shrubs.

It looks excellent as well when planted near the water feature.

3 . Ferns

Quite different from the exuberant and showy Western gardens, the overall impression of Japanese garden is much more simple and rustic.

The space overflows with strong oriental charms and deep serenity by the application of simple elements.


Wide cultivation of primitive fern plants in the garden creates extremely natural and peaceful oasis.

Ferns prefer humid and cool climate.

And will thrive in neutral or slightly acidic soil with rich organic matters and good drainage.

4 . Moss

For most of us, moss is one of the plants that we mostly want to get rid of in our courtyard.

While it is treated as an indispensable element for garden landscaping in Japan.

If you have seen pictures or got the valuable chance to visit in person the renowned Saihoji Temple (also known as moss temple), you will be totally blown away by its breathtaking moss landscape, which has mainly contributed to its list as world cultural heritage.

Soft and delicate in forms, moss seems get magical healing power!

Wild spread of this primitive plant in the Japanese garden creates a pure and harmonious atmosphere that echos to the raw nature.

5 . Ophiopogon japonicus var. nana ‘Minor’

Ophiopogon japonicus var. nana ‘Minor’, also known as Dwarf mondo grass, is another popular ornamental grass that widely cultivated in the Japanese gardens.

It is an evergreen perennial plant that native to China, India, Japan, and Vietnam.

Dwarf mondo grass grows in clumps and features with arching, thinly strap-shaped dark green leaves.

It also offers cute lilac flowers on its erecting spike in summer and followed by glittering dark-blue berries in late summer or early autumn.

Ophiopogon japonicus var. nana (Dwarf mondo grass)
Ophiopogon japonicus var. nana (Dwarf mondo grass)

This dwarf species of Ophiopogon japonicus generally reach not up to 10 cm.

Dwarf mondo grass tolerates a wide range of growing conditions and asks for little care once established.

Its traits of remaining dark-green in all seasons, low-maintenance and strong adaptability to environment make dwarf mondo grass as a popular ground cover for gardens.

6 . Hydrangea macrophylla

Sakura primps Japanese landscape in spring and maple tree adds fantastic colors to the garden in autumn.

While Hydrangea macrophylla will transform the garden into a romantic sea of flowers in summer!

Hydrangea macrophylla is a flowering plant native to Japan.

It features dark green leaves and clusters of splendid flowers that give to full blossom throughout the entire summer.

The color of the flowers varies, but mostly in blue or pink depending on the pH condition of the soil.

The acidic soil will offer blue flowers, while the alkaline soil provides pink blossoms.

Thanks to its exuberant leaves and gorgeous flowers, Hydrangea macrophylla is most commonly planted along the pathway to create a delightful walking experience or the back of the flower bed to serve an intriguing backdrop for other light-color flowers.

Hydrangea macrophylla

The most famous place to enjoy the beauty of Hydrangea macrophylla in Japan is Meigetsuin temple in Kamakura city

With nearly 3000 strains of Hydrangea macrophylla kept in there, Meigetsuin temple is lost in a sea of splendid flowers during summer.

It looks so breathtaking that attracts tons of visitors to Kamakura city every year.

While Hydrangea macrophylla tolerates a wide range of soil types, it does best in consistently moist soil with good drainage in full sun or partially shaded areas.

7 . Bamboo

As a plant that holds high position in Asian horticulture, we cannot go without mentioning bamboo when discussing trendy plants in Japanese garden.

Although bamboo come with a huge amount of different varieties, not all species are suitable for growing in the garden.

Some cultivars get so strong vitality that can grow very fast in the garden, thus becoming invasive and out of control.

The low-growing and relatively small bamboo species such as Bambusa multiplex and black bamboo are quite popular in Japanese garden.


With slender culms and dense foliage, bamboo looks quite comfortable especially during the breezy days.

The stress from a hectic day will be totally swept off at the rustling sound of the leaves when gentle wind whispering through the dense clumps.

The crisp knocking sound made by the bamboo culms is also quite soothing to the ears.

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