Ornamental Plant criteria..

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    Could all of you share what are the criteria for a plant to be called as ornamental plant…?
    as i know basically,
    -shape and form
    -special character
    are the criteria..

    Ajayan PV

    Hi Luqman,

    From my point of view, not all the plants are ornamental plants. Ornamental plants are those which are utilised in landscaping or gardening. They are usually attractive in form, structure, texture, need not be frangrant. Something which gives aesthetic look to our eyes. The criteria differs depends on the persons. But generally, its all the same.


    is there any guidelines in specific on how to differentiate ornamental plant? if its depend on each individu, some plant may be ornamental to one person but not to others…

    Roland Beinert

    I don’t think there is an easy answer. Some plants really can be ornamental to one person and not to others. This was proven to me by working at two very different firms. My first boss hated plants with purple or yellow leaves, for example. He thought they were gaudy, I guess, and he favored native plants with very subtle color differences. My second boss used plants with purple leaves in pretty much every design he did. He liked a lot of contrast.
    The lack of any standard on what is ornamental means you should go by the client’s taste and the requirements of the site for the most part. But you are an individual, as well, obviously, and your tastes will always come through in your work, whether you want them to or not. Get outdoors and look around. See what you like. Keep in mind that a landscape plan is a composition and some plants will look better or worse based on what other plants and structures surround them.


    Is there any books and or web sites that can help pertaining to this issue. ?for example, what colors consider interesting in plant material..

    Jason T. Radice

    IMHO (and I’m always right about this stuff ;), ornamentals are plants that have a specific aesthetic trait (ornament is strictly visual) that makes the plant stand out from its surroundings. It could be flowering, variegated leaves, mottled bark, some sort of “different” about it. Not usually typical for its type. And the plant is planted FOR that purpose. If you take a “normal” plant, and showcase it, it is a ‘specimen’ planting.

    IE, if you take Cornus florida. It’s native to North America. Planted with architecture or in a “designed” or “structured” way, it is an ornamental. If you take the same tree, remove it from architectural surroundings (open grow), and there are only one or two of them, it is a specimen. If you plant it on the edge of woodland or as understory (like they are in nature), then it is a native. The same plant, three different ways.

    Rob Halpern

    Here in the northeast US, Rhus radicans is a terrible pest causing many people painful dermatitis. But some gardeners in the UK have planted it as an ornamental vine (the fall color is spectacular).

    Elaeagnus umbellata is a beautiful silvery shrub, once widely planted. It has been shown to be a voracious invasive. Now forbidden

    So “ornamental” needs to be a contextual, perhaps temporal construct

    Rob Halpern

    What is it you’re trying to find out?

    Chris Whitted

    It may just be a dialect thing. I have always used (and heard it used) to describe either small trees or grasses. I’ve never called a shrub, vine, annual, or perennial ‘ornamental’; rather I may use the word ‘accent’ or ‘specimen’ to describe something particularly distinctive/unique. The simple definition in my view would be a particular species or group thereof that is in some way significantly distinctive from others in the same… family? genus? while taking into account context. Maybe that doesn’t work so well for trees, where it’s more a size reference thing (canopy/shade trees vs. evergreens, vs ornamentals). And context refers to the fact you could have a field of bluestem grass and I wouldn’t call it ornamental (in use anyway, it’d still be referred to that on a plant list if not seeded), but if you had a smaller bed of it/them isolated on a site that would make it/them ornamental.

    As others have said, I think it’s a fairly subjective term. Of your original list I would only use shape/form (and special character as an equivelant term) as a defining criteria.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    It is a bit like discussing weeds. There are two basic uses of the word “weed” (three, if you throw Mr. Quackenbush into the mix). One is “inherent weed species” and the other is simply “a plant out of place”.

    A plant that is functioning for aesthetic benefit. is by definition an ornamental plant (such as the poison ivey for fall color mentioned above). A plant species or variety that is cultivated for the purpose of being used for aesthetic purposes is an inherent ornamental plant species or variety.


    I’m trying to find out the characteristic of an ornamental plant in detail.

    Derick Langel

    I would agree that all except fragance, play a role in their ornamental value. I think of ornamental as architectural (must be the architect in me); so most times that i design an architectural garden i look for vertical plants (grasses-snake plant-bamboo), balanced structure, nice”design” leaf or frond structure (such as agaves)…nice contrast (alocasias) nice texture (juniper)
    check out : http://www.architecturalplants.com/plants.html
    my two cents…

    Rob Halpern

    Why not fragrance?
    Indeed, why not sound? …like the rustling/clacking of large bamboo in a breeze

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