Eye Catching Ball-Shaped Flowers That Will Beautify Your Garden

This list was compiled by gardener Hannah Miller and reviewed by horticulturist Elizabeth Smith. Published to Ideas on the 15th March 2023.

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Ball-shaped flowers, also known as pom-pom flowers, can add a unique and eye-catching element to any garden where they contrast well against regular blooms. These flowers come in a wide range of colours, shapes, and sizes, making them a versatile choice for any gardener. Whether you are looking to add variety to your garden or want to attract pollinators, ball-shaped flowers can provide a range of benefits. Additionally, I’ve found that many of these flowers are low maintenance and have long-lasting blooms, making them a great choice for gardeners of all skill levels.

Here is a list of ball-shaped flowers that I have experience growing and recommend for your garden.

Alliums – My Favourite Ball-Shaped Flower

As an experienced gardener, I highly recommend alliums as a fantastic ball-shaped flower to incorporate into your outdoor space. Here are five reasons why I love growing alliums:

Key points:

  • Stunning appearance: The alliums in my garden produce large, round flower heads that make for a striking visual spring display that always impresses. There are hundreds of tiny flowers that make up each bloom, and these create a truly unique and eye-catching effect.
  • Variety: Alliums come in a wide range of colours and sizes, and I’ve grown small white blooms to giant purple spheres in my Surrey garden. There are also several different species of alliums to choose from, each with their own unique characteristics.
  • Low maintenance: I’ve always found alliums incredibly easy to care for and in my garden, they require little maintenance once planted. They are also highly resistant to pests and diseases, and the ones I planted years ago still come back each spring reliably.
  • Long-lasting blooms: Alliums have long-lasting blooms that can provide interest in my garden for several weeks and sometimes even months. They are also great for adding structure to my garden design well into summer, as the blooms hold their shape even as they fade.
  • Attracts pollinators: Alliums are highly attractive to pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which in my garden flock to them. This makes them a great choice for gardeners looking to increase biodiversity in their outdoor space.

I recommend:

Never grown alliums before? I suggest you start with Purple Sensation as they’re cheap, reliable and come back year after year in most gardens, and the ball-shaped blooms are just the right size.

Read our guide to growing alliums here.

Two allium globes

Two ball-shaped allium blooms

Alliums

A closeup photo of an allium

Dahlias

A personal favourite of mine! Dahlia flowers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and recently, I’ve been growing the dinnerplate variety but previously, I grew ball-shaped pompom dahlias which looked stunning in my garden.

Key points:

  • Dahlias love sunshine, the more the merrier.
  • In my garden, the dahlias needed staking as the stems are brittle.
  • By selectively pruning off buds and stems, I have great results producing huge dahlia flowers.
  • Slugs and snails see dahlias as an all-you-can-eat buffet, unfortunately.
  • Dahlias grow from tubers and as long as they don’t get frost damaged, they grow back each year. I’ve successfully lifted and stored the over winter too.

My experience:

See our complete guide to dahlias, which contains 8 dahlia-growing guides

Pink ball-shaped dahlia

Pink ball-shaped dahlia

Orange pompom dahlia flowers

Orange pompom dahlia flowers

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums, also known as mums, are a popular and versatile plant that I feel adds a burst of colour to the garden. These flowers open outwards into ball-shaped blooms and they come in a wide range of colours and sizes. I grew these at my previous property and I think they are a great choice for gardeners looking to add a touch of autumn colour to their gardens.

Key points:

  • Sunlight and soil requirements: I’ve learnt that Chrysanthemums need plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil to thrive. In my garden, I planted them in a spot that received at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day, and the soil was rich in organic matter.
  • Proper watering: Chrysanthemums should be watered deeply and regularly, but be careful not to overwater them as I’ve seen this cause root rot. It’s best to water them at the base of the plant rather than from above to prevent mildew and other fungal diseases.
  • Pruning and deadheading: I always pruned and deadheaded to keep them looking tidy and to encourage new blooms.
  • Overwintering: In my garden, where winter temperatures sometimes fall below 5°c, I lift the plants and store them over winter.
  • Cut flowers: I always use Chrysanthemums as cut flowers, and they are a personal favourite of mine.

I recommend:

I recommend the Pompom Chrysanthemum which I grew at my previous property, but Gardena has published a more complete list of Chrysanthemums here.

Pink chrysanthemums in a cluster
Yellow chrysanthemums

Viburnum Opulus

Viburnum opulus, also known as guelder rose, is a delightful deciduous shrub grown by gardeners for its stunning ornamental globe-like blooms and low maintenance features. Native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Asia, this plant produces ball-shaped clusters of white flowers in the spring, followed by bright red berries in the autumn. I grew this years ago at an old property, and it was one of my favourite shrubs, with the ball-shaped flowers an eye-catching feature.

Key points:

  • Soil and sun requirements: Viburnum opulus prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, but it can also tolerate a range of soil types. Mine grew best in full sun to partial shade, but I’ve seen it tolerate full shade, albeit with fewer flowers.
  • Uses: It’s a beautiful ornamental plant that I’ve used as a cut flower many times.
  • Difficulty: I’ve always found it easy to grow, but it can be susceptible to grey mould or leaf spot if grown in shade or a congested border.
  • Height: can reach up to 4m, but I always found it easy to control.

Explore more:

Read our guide to growing Viburnum opulus here.

Viburnam opulus (snowball bush)
Closeup of Viburnum opulus (Snowball Bush)

Globe Thistles

Globe thistles, also known as echinops, are a popular plant among gardeners for their striking and unique ball-shaped appearance. These hardy perennials are native to Europe and Asia, but I’ve seen them growing in gardens around the world. I’ve found them easy to care for, and they add unique texture, bright colour, and structure to gardens.

Key points:

  • Globe thistles are incredibly tough and adaptable plants. They can withstand drought, heat, and cold, and I feel they would be perfect for gardeners looking for low-maintenance plants.
  • I feel that one of the most striking features of globe thistles is their unique, spiky flowers which can be blue, purple, or white – they add a bold and architectural style to gardens.
  • Finally, globe thistles are very easy to care for. I’ve found that they require full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil, but they can tolerate a range of soil types. They don’t require much fertilizer or water, and they don’t need to be pruned or deadheaded regularly.

Read more:

Discover how to grow Globe Thistles at All About Gardening.

Collection of globe thistles

Hydrangea Arborescens Annabelle

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle,’ also known as Smooth Hydrangea, is a popular deciduous ball-shaped shrub that produces large, round clusters of white flowers that resemble snowballs. I grew this shrub at my previous property in the front garden, and it always received compliments from neighbours and visitors. It’s similar to Viburnum Opulus, which I’ve already included in this list.

Key points:

  • In my garden, I’ve found this shrub preferred partial shade and moist ground conditions.
  • This hydrangea blooms on new wood, so it needs a prune in late winter or early spring.
  • I noticed that the flowers changed from white to green as they aged and this provided visual interest throughout the season.
  • My Annabelle reached about 1m after a few years but I’ve seen them reach 2.5m after about 10 years or so in other gardens.
  • Mine flowered into late September.

My experience with Annabelle:

Growing ‘Annabelle’ in my garden has been a delightful experience, as the snowball-like flowers grew huge and created a dramatic focal point in my garden. I planted them in a partially shaded area with moist, well-draining soil, and they quickly became a showstopper. To encourage abundant blooms, I pruned the shrubs back in late winter, which promoted healthy new growth and as the new flowers aged, I noticed that they transformed from white to green, adding extra interest to my garden.

Read:

How to grow Annabelle.

White Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle

One of my favourite hydrangeas

Craspedia (Billy Buttons)

Craspedia, which I’ve also heard gardeners call Billy Buttons or Drumstick Flowers, is a unique and eye-catching plant with round, yellow, ball-shaped flowers which stood out in the middle and back of my borders in my Surrey garden. They are native to Australia and New Zealand, but I feel they would make a striking addition to any garden.

Key points:

  • Craspedia prefers full sun and well-drained soil, making it suitable for drought-tolerant gardens.
  • I didn’t have any issues growing this plant from seed, it was reliable and mostly pest free, and I feel it would be perfect for lazy or busy gardeners.
  • In my garden, it grew to about 80cm, and the pompom, globe-like blooms persisted for months and well into autumn.
  • I also used the flowers in floral arrangements indoors, where they held up well for weeks.
  • Based on my experience and where I’ve seen these plants grown, I think it would work well in rockeries, mixed borders and meadows.

How to get started:

Seed n Sow has published a quick guide to getting started with Billy Buttons.

Billy buttons growing in the garden

Billy buttons growing in the garden

Closeup of Billy Buttons

Closeup of Billy Buttons

Buddleja Globosa

Buddleja Globosa, also known as the Orange Ball Tree, is a deciduous shrub native to South America. It produces clusters of small, ball-shaped, bright orange-yellow flowers that give it a striking appearance. I love Buddlejas as they are such a magnet for bees and butterflies and they can grow big too.

Key points:

  • One of my favourite summer and late summer shrubs.
  • The flowers have a long blooming period.
  • It can reach a whopping 5m x 5m but is easily kept in check with pruning.
  • I’ve found that the flowers are very flagrant, and bees and butterflies swarm around the blooms.

Where I’ve seen this shrub:

I first saw this shrub at a friend’s house, and while the foliage wasn’t interesting, the dozens and dozens of small orange balls really stood out. I can’t think of another shrub that looks like this.

Globosa buddleja

Bees showing an interest in Globosa buddleja

Gomphrena (Globe Amaranth)

Gomphrena, which is also known as Globe Amaranth, is a charming annual flowering plant that produces small, round, clover-like blooms in a variety of colours. I’ve personally seen them in purple, pink, white, and red. If you’re looking for eye-catching ball-shaped flowers to0 grow in your garden, consider Gomphrena.

Key points:

  • I grew this a few years ago and it needs full sun and free-draining soil.
  • It will do best in warmer parts of the UK.
  • This was another addition to my garden that attracted bees and butterflies.
  • In my garden, the flowers were long-lasting.
  • The blooms made great cut flowers

My experience with Gomphrena:

I grew these from seed under glass at first before moving them into the garden. I found that in a sunny spot, they were fairly low maintenance and required little water or feed but did benefit from deadheading. They struggle with cold weather and are half-hardy in most parts of the UK.

Globe Amaranth

Globularia Ball-Shaped Flowers

Globularia, commonly known as Globe Daisy, is a group of perennial plants that produce small, spherical, button-like flowers in shades of blue, purple, or white. These charming plants are native to Europe and the Mediterranean region and are known for their unique appearance and compact growth habit.

Key points:

  • Globe Daisies prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained, alkaline to neutral soil, which I feel makes them adaptable to a variety of garden conditions.
  • I’ve seen these plants several times, and they’re compact, low-growing and matt-forming. I’ve seen them thrive in rock gardens, as groundcover and in the front of borders.
  • I’ve never seen them grow taller than 30cm but they can grow dense.
  • I’ve only ever seen them flower in spring and early summer.

Discover more:

Gardeners HQ has published a guide to growing Globe Daisies.

Globe daises

White and purple globe daisies

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Meet The Author: Hannah Miller

Hannah is a former NHS administrator, mother of two and keen qualified gardener who loves growing new plants and experimenting in the garden.

She enjoys gardening as much as she cares about the environment and likes to share her knowledge with others.

This year is all about pollinators, and Hannah has set herself the goal of only buying new plants that attract pollinators; she aims to make the garden as bee and butterfly friendly as possible.

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Hannah Miller has been a gardening enthusiast for over 12 years and has a level 3 qualification in horticulture. She’s constantly growing new plants and frequently writes for us. This guide to the best ball-shaped flowers is based on her experience with plants she’s grown in her garden, or she has seen grown by others she knows.

As accuracy is important, we asked fully qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith to review and fact-check this guide.

Explore: Elizabeth’s profile and qualifications.

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