13 Irish Vegetation to Develop this Saint Patrick’s Day

When we think of Ireland, we may envision the emerald-green countryside and the blooming, rambling hedgerows. We conjure Celtic heritage, pastoral tradition, generous people, and, of course, Saint Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a modern festival of Irish culture with roots in tradition and religion. It marks the death of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick, who is celebrated for bringing Christianity to the country in the fifth century.

Today, Saint Patrick’s Day has diverse meanings and celebrates Irish pride and rich heritage. Here, we’ll escape to the Emerald Isle to celebrate plants inspired by Irish landscapes, folklore, and namesakes. 

Plant Irish plants for a lot of beauty, a bit of luck, and a sprinkle of fairy mischief in your garden this Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s sure to spring to life with lush greens reminiscent of the Irish countryside and blooms of the fields and hedgerows. 

Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland, Moluccella laevis Seeds


Gloxiniiflora Blend Foxglove Seeds

Gloxiniiflora Blend Foxglove Seeds

Shasta Daisy

Alaska Shasta Daisy Seeds

Alaska Shasta Daisy Seeds


Close-up of a blooming Oxalis triangularis, commonly known as the Purple Shamrock. The plant features triangular-shaped leaves that are rich purple on the upper side. Delicate, pale pink to white flowers appear, adding to the plant's allure.This plant symbolizes sacredness and is often linked to Saint Patrick’s teachings.

We must kick off in true iconic fashion with a plant many recognize immediately as Irish: the shamrock. Lore surrounding shamrocks dates to the Celtic Druids, who considered the number three sacred and treated the shamrock, with its three leaves, as such. Legend holds that later, Saint Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the holy trinity. Shamrocks (and clovers) covered Irish hillsides.

Also called wood sorrel, shamrocks are tender bulbs often grown as annuals or indoor plants. Delicate lavender, pink, rose, white, and yellow flowers rise above charming clover leaves of deep purple, green, and variegated tones.

Not true shamrocks, wood sorrels bear three-lobed, triangular leaves. Clever breeders sometimes include a fourth leaf for good luck. We’ll take it! Wood sorrels differ from clovers (Trifolium spp.), the lucky four-leaf plants we look for in the clover patch. Druids valued four-leafed clovers as representing the alchemist elements of earth, fire, wind, and water.

Oxalis triangularis flowers the most in spring and fall when temperatures are cool. They’ll experience summer dormancy, where plants rest during hot summer months. Some native wood sorrels are invasive, like the yellow-flowering O. stricta and the creeping O. corniculata, both common weeds that spread readily. The ornamental wood sorrels, or shamrocks, easily stay contained.

Plant shamrocks in full sun to partial shade. In hot climates, protect plants from direct afternoon sun. Wood sorrels grow as an annual or indoor plant in cold climates in bright, indirect light. They prefer organically rich, well-drained soil. Plant these easy bulbs in spring at 2” deep and 4-6” apart.  Cluster them more tightly if using a container.

Bells of Ireland

Close-up of Molucella laevis in a sunny garden. Molucella laevis, commonly known as Bells of Ireland or Shellflower, is a striking annual plant distinguished by its tall, upright stems adorned with multiple tiers of small, bell-shaped green flowers encased within vibrant, papery calyxes that resemble miniature cups or bells. These calyxes are a vivid shade of green. The foliage consists of lance-shaped leaves arranged alternately along the stems.Tall spikes of green blooms symbolize Irish themes, bringing luck.

Bells of Ireland feature tall bloom spikes loaded with bells in shades from pale green to candy apple. Their name misleads their origin, as they originate from Turkey, Syria, and the Caucasus. In cultivation since the 1570s, their lime color came to represent Irish themes and good luck.

These rich, unusual annual blooms make excellent fresh and dried flowers for floral arrangements. Their tall blooms serve the garden border and shine with plants in their color range (like ‘Queeny Lime’ zinnia and chartreuse coleus) or contrast beautifully with dark-leaved foliage or red flowers.

A garden heirloom, Bells of Ireland grow easily from seed. Leave spent bloom spikes to dry and scatter naturally if you want plants to reseed for future seasons. Bells of Ireland prefer full sun and regular water throughout the growing season. They don’t thrive in hot and humid summers.

Irish Moss

Close-up of a blooming Sagina subulata in a sunny garden. Sagina subulata, commonly known as Irish moss or Scotch moss, is a delicate and low-growing perennial plant renowned for its lush and moss-like appearance. It forms dense, spreading mats of bright green, needle-like foliage that creates a soft and velvety carpet effect. It produces tiny, star-shaped white flowers.Creeping green foliage forms dense mats with tiny white flowers.

Irish moss creates a lush carpet of emerald green leaves with creeping stems that reach only one to two inches tall. A single plant spreads up to one foot across, forming a dense, evergreen mat of slender leaves.

Tiny white, star-shaped flowers sprinkle the green foliage in spring and freely flower throughout the warm season. Flowers produce brown seeds that self-sow to expand the colony (or remove them easily).

Irish moss makes a delightful specimen for terrariums and container plantings. In the garden, it tolerates light traffic between stepping stones and along path borders. Use it to accent spring-flowering bulbs like crocus, hyacinth, and snowdrops. Grow Irish moss in full sun to partial shade (with afternoon sun protection in southern climates) with regular water and well-draining soil. 


Close-up of blooming Irish primroses, also known as Primula vulgaris, are charming perennial plants characterized by their dainty, five-petaled flowers that bloom in a creamy yellow color. These delicate flowers rise above rosettes of dark green, crinkled leaves that form a compact and low-growing mound.Creamy yellow flowers, sacred to Celts, bloom in early spring.

These charming Irish plants bear creamy yellow springtime flowers and grow freely along streambanks, roadsides, and damp woodlands. The Celts considered the primrose sacred, and they’ve long held medicinal qualities, as well as their place in poetry. Famous Irish poet Patrick Kavanaugh penned the poem, Primrose, among other selections, featuring the Irish wildflower as a soulful reflection.

The Primula genus contains over 450 species of primrose. The sweet perennial is among the first to bloom in late winter and early spring. Bloom times range from February through May, and some last into the summer, depending on the climate. Primroses come in many colors and shapes and feature clusters of tiny flowers that rise above rosettes of dark, ruffled leaves. 

Depending on the variety, primroses prefer organically rich, moist, well-drained soils. They typically don’t tolerate wet feet, though consistent moisture is ideal, especially for woodland varieties. Once established, primroses need little care except dividing if groups become crowded.


Close-up of Hyacinthoides non-scripta blooming in a garden. It features slender, arching stems adorned with nodding, bell-shaped flowers that hang in clusters of delicate, pendulous blooms. The flowers are blue. The foliage consists of narrow, strap-like leaves that emerge from the base of the plant.Bell-shaped flowers symbolize fairies and bloom in moist woodland areas.

Irish bluebells (also the common bluebell) appear around the same time as primroses and give the sweetest splash of blue-violet to the garden. Bell-shaped flowers suspend gracefully from leafy, arching stems above dense crowns in spring and summer.

Bluebells enchant not only in flower but also in lore. They are said to be fairy creations that lure humans to a life of lost wandering. Trampling the bluebells is thought to ring the fairies to seal one’s fate.

In contemporary gardens, Hyacinthoides non-scripta continues to be the harbinger of spring. Native bluebells inhabit both the western and eastern U.S.: Mertensia ciliata, or mountain bluebell, and Mertensia virginica, Virginia bluebell. Both are cold-hardy and reseed in ideal conditions, and mountain bluebell tolerates hot and dry sites. 

Bluebells grow best in moist conditions, with a natural habitat of stream banks, wet meadows, and damp woodlands. They need good air circulation to prevent mildew diseases.

Hellebore ‘Irish Luck’

Close-up of blooming Helleborus 'Irish Luck' against a blurred green background. It features leathery, evergreen foliage with serrated edges that forms a dense mound of dark green leaves. 'Irish Luck' produces nodding, bell-shaped flowers of a creamy-greenish color with purple freckles surrounding creamy white stamens at the center.Early blooming perennials with nodding flowers and palmate leaves.

Hellebores, or lenten roses, feature large, cupped-shaped nodding blooms atop dark green palmate leaves. Perennials that bloom in late winter/early spring, hellebores grace the garden with evergreen or semi-evergreen leaves, depending on climate. The common name derives from the coinciding bloom time with the Christian Lenten season.

Hellebores’ toothed, palmate leaves provide interest year-round, and their exquisite single or double blooms bring beauty to the late winter landscape. Heavily hybridized for vigor and bloom density, hellebores feature a long bloom time in various colors, from creamy white to soft pink to wine red, with single or double flowers. 

‘Irish Luck’ is part of the HoneymoonⓇ series, which boasts improved vigor and numerous blooms per plant but with single flowers. Its creamy green petals feature a central burgundy flare; the stamens are pale green and ivory.

Hellebores thrive in moist, well-drained soils in woodland settings. They colonize slowly in consistently moist, average soil in dappled light to full shade.

Daffodil ‘Empress of Ireland’

Close-up of Narcissus 'Empress of Ireland' blooming in a sunny garden. It features tall, sturdy stems topped with large, trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers showcase creamy white petals that gradually transition to a soft, buttery yellow at the base. The leaves are long, slender, and deep green in color.Daffodils bring vibrant and heirloom blooms in spring.

Spring-flowering daffodils pop up in Irish gardens with abundant, colorful blooms that flourish in cool, damp conditions. The same holds worldwide, where daffodils welcome spring in a sunny sweep. Many daffodils originate from Irish horticulturists, and heirloom varieties persist today.

‘Empress of Ireland’ is one of these heirlooms bred by renowned Northern Ireland plantsman Guy Wilson in 1950. This clear trumpet daffodil features large white flowers with a creamy flared center. ‘Empress’ received the Royal Horticulture Society’s prestigious Award of Garden Merit for its impressive blooms.

Plant daffodil bulbs in the fall for a showy springtime display. Cluster bulbs of the same variety in groupings three to six inches apart and four to six inches deep. Scatter bulbs before covering them with soil and compost for a naturalized arrangement. Look to early, mid, and late-season bloomers for combinations of staggered seasonal flowers.

Iris ‘Pride of Ireland’

Close-up of Iris germanica 'Pride of Ireland' blooming in a sunny garden. It features sturdy, erect stems rising above clumps of sword-shaped foliage. The large, ruffled flowers bloom in late spring to early summer, showing velvety petals in shades of soft yellow. The petals exhibit delicate veining and ruffled edges.Celebrate Irish tradition with ‘Pride of Ireland,’ a non-invasive yellow iris.

Before we dive into ‘Pride of Ireland,’ let’s nod to the traditional yellow flag iris plant that occurs naturally along Irish banks, bogs, and marshes. Native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, this lovely iris marks summer’s coming and plays a role in Irish folklore. During Corpus Christi religious festivals, yellow flags mark doorways on Sundays in June. Legend also holds that if a fairy changeling were cast out to the water, it would return as a yellow flag iris.

As beautiful as this Irish native is, the yellow flag iris spreads hardily and is invasive in many parts of the U.S. As an alternative to Iris pseudacorus, another beautiful iris in yellow is ‘Pride of Ireland.’ 

This tall bearded iris is a mid-spring bloomer with stately flowers in yellow, green, and chartreuse hues. Large, ruffly blooms feature three upright and three lower petals. 

‘Pride of Ireland’ tolerates a wide range of soil types, from acidic to clay to sand. It grows best in moist and well-drained conditions. Other Irish-inspired iris cultivars include ‘Wild Irish Rose’ in lovely pink and ‘Irish Cream’ in ivory.

Dog Rose

Close-up of blooming Rosa canina in a sunny garden. Rosa canina, commonly known as the dog rose, is a charming deciduous shrub with arching stems and thorny branches. It features delicate, pinnately compound leaves with serrated edges and a glossy green surface. Th plant produces fragrant, single flowers in shades of soft pink to white, each with five petals and a yellow center.Ireland’s native dog rose thrives in diverse conditions.

The dog rose is a rambling beauty in meadows and fields, in hedgerows, and along banks. Ireland’s native dog rose originates from Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. The oldest known living rose is a dog rose at Germany’s Hildesheim Cathedral, where it’s allegedly grown since the 800s. The extensive, shrubby wild rose survived the church’s bombing in World War II and continues to bloom today.

A wild climber, dog roses yield fragrant, large, white-to-pink single flowers with yellow stamens that attract bees, flies, beetles, and other insects. Rosa canina gets its species name (“sharp teeth”)  from its curved, pointed thorns. Dog roses bloom beautifully in the summer months.

When dog rose flowers fade in the fall, striking red, oval-shaped hips emerge. This versatile, rugged, adaptable rose is a wild beauty in the garden. It grows in various sunlight and soil conditions, from full sun to light shade and from dry to moist conditions. It performs best in evenly moist, well-draining soils.


Close-up shot of flowering Digitalis purpurea plants in a sunny garden. It features tall, erect spikes adorned with tubular, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in dense clusters along the stems. The flowers vary in color from shades of white, pink to purple, with delicate speckles or spots on the petals and a prominent white or cream-colored throat.Tall foxgloves display vibrant bell flowers in various colors.

Foxgloves (or fairy thimbles, fairy gloves) bear stunning bell flowers on tall, sturdy stems. The bloom colors range from rose to creamy white to peach, and the flowers often have freckled throats. The loaded stems rise above thick and leathery basal foliage. A mass planting yields an impactful garden display of abundant bloom spikes above the dense leaves.

Foxgloves grow natively in Ireland as part of their original range from Western Europe to North Africa.  They grow wildly on mountainsides, clearings, woodland edges, and disturbed areas. The perennial delights wild hillsides and gardens alike, popular for its striking, long-lasting flowers.

Foxgloves grow best in full to partial sun in evenly moist, organically rich soils with good drainage. As rugged perennials, foxgloves grow in a range of soils as long as they aren’t overly wet or dry.

Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’

Close-up of Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ in bloom in a sunny garden. It features sturdy stems topped with daisy-like flowers. The flowers have bright yellow petals surrounding a greenish-yellow centers.Native rudbeckia blooms from summer to frost, thriving in various conditions.

A native wildflower, rudbeckia grows naturally in meadows and prairies and brings a variety of garden attributes. They bloom nonstop from summer through frost in a spectacular show of golden daisy flowers. We know the familiar black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) with chocolate centers. ‘Irish Eyes’ is a selection of R. hirta with bright golden ray blooms and unique green centers.

Rudbeckia hirta is a long-blooming perennial native to parts of the South, Central, and Western United States. They’re adaptable plants that thrive in various conditions, including heat, humidity, and drought. Unfussy rudbeckia grows best in moist, well-drained soils without added fertilizers.

‘Irish Eyes’ brightens the perennial border or cutting garden with its cheery yellow flowers and pale lime centers. They’re ideal for pollinator gardens and naturalized plantings among ornamental grasses and other flowering perennials. While hardy to USDA zone 4, ‘Irish Eyes’ grows best as an annual in cold winter climates.

‘Dublin Bay’ Rose

Close-up of 'Dublin Bay' rose blooming in a sunny garden. The 'Dublin Bay' rose is a stunning climbing rose cultivar known for its elegant appearance and abundant blooms. The foliage is lush and dark green, providing a beautiful backdrop to the flowers. 'Dublin Bay' produces large clusters of semi-double, velvety crimson-red blooms with a classic rose shape.The McGredy family’s rose legacy spans generations, producing award-winning varieties.

Ireland’s famous rosarians include the McGredy family, whose legacy began when Samuel McGredy started a nursery business in Northern Ireland in 1880. In decades to follow, the McGredy line would go on to create award-winning rose selections in nearly every international category. 

When he was old enough, Sam McGredy IV resumed the operation years after his father’s death and after World War II, where the nursery grew mandated vegetables over roses. He hybridized unique “painted” roses of varying patterns among vigorous crosses. One of Sam McGredy’s modern prizes is the climbing Rosa ‘Dublin Bay.’

‘Dublin Bay’ graces the vertical garden with crimson blooms, glossy foliage, and a fruity fragrance. Double flowers emerge in clusters and bloom throughout the growing season. Showy spring and fall flushes pop against large surfaces like walls and fences.

A hybrid of hardy climbers ‘Bantry Bay’ and ‘Altissimo,’ it bears the best of its vigorous parents in growth and mildew resistance. Grow ‘Dublin Bay’ roses in full sun for best performance. Their long bloom time and low maintenance make them carefree climbers to delight the garden for years.

Shasta Daisy

Close-up shot of blooming Shasta daisy in a sunny garden. It features upright stems adorned with large, single, or double daisy-like flowers with bright white petals and a contrasting yellow center. The flowers have a golden eye and radiate from a prominent central disc. The foliage consists of lance-shaped, dark green leaves that form a dense basal rosette.These daisies symbolize Irish summers with white-petaled cheer and yellow centers.

Daisies adorn Irish meadows and fields as summer wildflowers. They’re the stuff of poetry, welcoming the warm season and the season’s hope with cheerful white-petaled faces and bright yellow centers.

The European native oxeye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare, adapts readily to a variety of growing conditions, so much so that it’s invasive in the U.S. and noted for displacing native plants. As a stellar alternative, look to the shasta daisy hybrid to take its place in the garden.

Shasta daisies feature larger, brighter ray blooms in spring and summer. These crisp, old-fashioned beauties brighten the perennial border in single and double-flowered varieties. Deep, glossy green basal foliage contrasts the clear blooms.

Shasta daisies hit their peak bloom in mid-summer. They do best in full sun with well-draining soil. Different varieties feature varying forms and sizes. In humid climates, look to ‘Becky,’  a larger plant boasting excellent disease resistance to fungal rot and leaf spot.

Final Thoughts

Ireland’s rich history is rooted in its connection to nature. This connection is evident through its horticultural history and modern garden charm, as well as through the folklore of its plants and landscapes.

With so many relevant plants, it’s fun to draw relationships between international garden favorites and to skim the surface of ethnobotanical interests. This Saint Patrick’s Day, enrich the garden with selections inspired by Irish attributes and heritage. They’ll bring verdant beauty and maybe even luck.

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