The best Chelsea Flower Show flowers you should plant at home 

How to echo the show’s world-class designs in your own garden.

There aren’t many opportunities to experience a masterclass in planting from some of the best garden designers in the world. But the Chelsea Flower Show is certainly one of them. If you’d like your patch of nature at home to emulate the planting schemes of leading horticulturists, then this is the place to get ideas.  

Although we spotted plenty of alliums, peonies and dahlias – a favourite of 2022 – we’ve been picky when choosing the best Chelsea Flower Show flowers from this year’s show that we think you should try planting at home. Some blooms will have been natural choices for the designers as late May is their flowering season, but they still left a huge impression on the Saga Exceptional team, helping to tell the stories behind the gardens (and providing tasty snacks for pollinators, too).

a selection of chelsea flower show flowersCredit: Rosanna Spence / Saga Exceptional
Lupins, irises and poppies made our list of the best Chelsea Flower Show flowers

These are the blooms we saw time and again in Show Gardens and Sanctuary Gardens, as well as decorating exhibitors’ displays. Some of the flowers here even feature in our biggest Chelsea Flower Show trends. 


1. Irises

Big and bearded

chelsea flower show flowers large pink and white irisCredit: Rosanna Spence / Saga Exceptional
Most garden displays featured at least one cultivar of iris this year

Irises were abundant this year and could be found in nearly every single one of our favourite Chelsea Flower show gardens 

Though we saw a few delicate water varieties (including Iris pseudacorous ‘Yellow Flag’), the cultivars that stole the show were big, bearded and blousy. We particularly adored the opulent ruby petals of Iris ‘Sultan’s Palace’, and the sandier blushing hues of Iris ‘Benton’ growing in the Nurture Landscapes Garden. The cooling pale blue petals of Iris pallida in the Hamptons Mediterranean Garden contrasted against the midnight gloss of Iris ‘Deep Black’ in the Transcendence Garden.  

If you’re after a low-maintenance garden flower that’s handily a hardy perennial, look no further than Iris Germanica ‘Alcazar’ from The Royal Entomological Society Garden, which pollinators will also flock to. 

2. Foxgloves

Colourful architecture

The Savills Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2023Credit: Amy Cutmore / Exceptional
The Savills Garden had a stunning display of ‘edimentals’

Another one of the best Chelsea Flower Show blooms that made our list is the foxglove – like the iris, it was hard to find a garden that didn’t feature their striking stems. 

Foxgloves are ideal for adding a splash of colour that can tower over lower lying plants. We especially liked the white-petalled Digitalis purpurea f. albiflora in the RSPCA Garden and the common foxgloves we could see feeding insects in The Royal Entomological Society Garden. 

The Savills Garden design focussed on ‘edimentals’, a planting term coined in recent years that looks at the “old potager idea of combining productive and pretty”, according to designer Mark Gregory. This delightful edible and ornamental mashup saw many foxgloves share the stage with kitchen garden plants.  

3. Lupins

Impressive floral displays

chelsea flower show flowers lupin displayCredit: Amy Cutmore / Saga Exceptional
Lupins gave garden designers an opportunity to use the Pantone Colour of the Year

As with foxgloves, lupins are a great way to add showstopping architecture to a garden. Many of them stopped us in our tracks, particularly those in shades of magenta – the Pantone Colour of the Year 2023.   

Lupins come into their impressive flowering season around the end of May, and it’s a marvel to watch. A friend of the Saga Exceptional team has even set up a live camera feed on his lupins at home so he can keep an eye on their progress whenever he is away – he doesn’t want to miss a moment.) 

We think lupins are an ideal starter plant in a larger raised bed garden. Lupin ‘The Governor’ should do well in neutral to acidic soil and will provide contrasting height behind lower lying shrubs you may plant. 

4. Ox-eye daisies

Welcome wildflowers

chelsea flower show flowers display of ox-eye daisiesCredit: Rosanna Spence / Saga Exceptional
The Lindum Wildflower turf display was abundant with ox-eye daisies

Wildflowers were part of many designs this year, including the Centrepoint Garden, where they helped convey the message of nature’s healing power when it’s allowed to thrive. But the striking, sunny faces of ox-eye daisies caught our eye. 

Not only were they found in the Lindum wildflower turf display (which scooped the show’s Sustainable Garden Product of the Year award), they also carpeted the ground in the Saatchi Gallery’s immersive garden with sculptures.  

Though ox-eye daisies can become invasive, their inclusion is important alongside more cultivated blooms, as they support our native natural environment. Many garden designers favoured naturalistic planting schemes this year – we even spotted dandelions left to flower alongside these native wildflowers too.  


Dandelions: love them or loathe them? 

The common dandelion was named one of The Royal Entomological Society’s ‘star plants’ in its garden, for its ability to help develop an insect-rich garden. Lots of gardeners often want to know how to kill dandelions, but they do provide a strong, nectar-rich source for countless flying insects – and according to the society, they’re also a larval food source for moths.  

5. Poppies

Remembrance and hope

Poppies and AlliumsCredit: Amy Cutmore/Saga Exceptional
These poppies towered above other flowers, displayed alongside alliums

The Memoria & GreenAcres Transcendence Garden was another of our favourite displays in this year’s show. The peaceful space included the poppy Papaver somnifera ‘Sissinghurst White’, with its large, cupped creamy petals. The flowers were strategically placed in areas where you could pause and reflect on the garden’s message about encouraging conversations on difficult end-of-life topics – poppies, of course, being a renowned symbol of remembrance and hope. 

Elsewhere, the Hamptons Mediterranean Garden was home to Papaver somniferum ‘Maanzaad’, bearing gentle white petals each marked with a purple thumbprint. Over at The Royal Entomological Society Garden, another star plant for the designers was the Papaver dubium subsp. lecoqii ‘Albiflorum’ (also known as Beth’s poppy). It’s a delicate annual with powder pink flowers that hold an important food source for many insects  

6. Salvias

Aromatic ground cover

chelsea flower show flowers display with salviasCredit: Amy Cutmore / Saga Exceptional
Many gardens displayed different cultivars of salvia side by side

Though ferns and hostas proved a popular option this year for ground cover, we loved the floral addition that aromatic salvia gave to many gardens. A whole host of garden designers planted multiple cultivars. 

We spotted Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ (also known as Balkan clary) in the London Square Community Garden. Four different types of salvia were growing in the Hamptons Mediterranean garden (including ‘Lemon Light’ and clary sage) – chosen for its aromatics as part of a sensory garden as well as being a healthy environmental addition.  

The Royal Entomological Society Garden included five types of salvia (including ‘Blue Armor’, ‘Shangri La’ and ‘Bee’s Bliss’), proving how important the plant is for attracting pollinators to your garden. The designers at Memoria & GreenAcres Transcendence Garden mirrored this quota, also planting five types of salvia – cultivars included ‘Cool Cream’, ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Caradonna’.  

7. Agapanthuses

The RHS Plant of the Year

chelsea flower show flowers agapanthus black jackCredit: Thompson & Morgan
Agapanthus ‘Black Jack’ won the judges’ approval this year

We couldn’t compile a list of the best Chelsea Flower Show flowers without a special mention of agapanthus. While many displays featured the delicately bowing purple-blue bell-like petals in umbel formation, it was a darker Agapanthus ‘Black Jack’ which was awarded the RHS Plant of the Year 2023. 

The drought-tolerant plant boasts huge flowerheads bustling with up to 100 florets of deep, purple-black striped blooms. This “vigorous” agapanthus, according to the RHS, was bred by De Wet Breeders, exhibited by Sparsholt College and is supplied by Thompson & Morgan. It’s apparently an ideal choice for balconies, terraces and small gardens, and requires some frost protection, according to Patrick Fairweather of Fairweather’s Nursery, who trialled the plant.  

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Rosanna Spence

Written by Rosanna Spence she/her


Rosanna Spence has been a journalist for nearly 10 years, reporting on a huge array of topics – from microwaves to cocktails, sustainable buildings, the Caribbean islands and beyond. She’s interviewed chefs at the helm of Michelin-starred restaurants and chatted to countless CEOs about their businesses, as well as created travel guides for experienced travellers seeking life-changing adventures. Throughout her career, she has created content for Business Traveller,, Pub & Bar, BRITA, Dine Out and many more leading titles and brands.

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