A Guide to Garden Flower Identification: What's in Your Garden?

A Guide to Garden Flower Identification

by | Jun 1, 2018

It’s exciting to watch new shoots pop up in springtime and new blooms emerge. But what is growing in your garden? 

Maybe you just moved in and have no idea what the last owner planted in your garden. Or perhaps you’re forgetful (like me) and just can’t remember what you planted where in your garden.

This guide to garden flower identification will try to answer your plant questions and help you take excellent care of your garden all year. 



Why Should I Care About Garden Flower Identification?


Garden flower identification will help you take the best possible care of your plants. If you don’t know what’s growing in your garden, it’s hard to cater to each plant’s specific needs. Each plant in your garden will have different needs regarding:

  • Watering. Not all plants enjoy frequent showers, so knowing what’s in your garden will ensure that you don’t drown or dehydrate your flowers.
  • Pruning. Without proper pruning, some plants quickly take over. Know which plants need regular trimming or risk an overgrown jungle in your front yard!
  • Soil type. Some plants need extra-rich, moist soil while others actually do best in sandy and well-drained soil.
  • Mulching or fertilizer. Plants that need nutrient-rich soil will require a schedule of mulch or fertilizer, while other plants almost never need such pampering.
  • Shade and sun. Since not all plants do well in full or direct sunlight, you may need to provide extra shade or sun for certain plants.
  • Wind protection. Some plants do well in windy areas, while others wither quickly. Know which plants to protect to keep your garden happy.
  • Spacing from other plants. Many plants need extra space as they mature, but some like to be crowded. Identify the plants in your garden so that you can give them proper spacing.
  • Common issues. It’s hard to troubleshoot what’s wrong with your plant if you don’t know what type of plant you have.

Additionally, knowing what plants are in your garden will let you know if you have any medicinal plants in your garden or any invasive species.


garden flower identification overgrown cabbage



How Can I Identify Flowers in My Garden?


Depending on what’s in your garden, you might have your work cut out for you. Many small herbs and non-flowering plants can be quite challenging to identify. Field guides are often useless for garden flower identification since they focus on local plants rather than what you find in a garden store. 

One of your best bets to identify plants in your garden is to use PlantSnap. PlantSnap is an app for your phone that identifies flowers and plants using an algorithm that analyzes photos and searches our huge plant database to find at match. Simply snap a clear photo of the unidentified plants in your garden, and let PlantSnap do the rest! 

Sometimes, even PlantSnap struggles to identify plants in your garden. Generally, this is because the plants are immature or damaged or your photo isn’t up to snuff (e.g. with only part of the flower showing). The plant identification app does best with very clear, well-lit photos of healthy flowers and/or leaves.

Also, many domestic plants have been bred for unusual colors or shapes. This can lead to the algorithm getting a bit “confused,” but bear with us, our gardening app is constantly learning and updating!


garden flower identification herbs small purple pink



What if PlantSnap Can’t Identify a Flower in My Garden?


Sometimes, PlantSnap will give you a short list of possibilities for what’s in your garden. From there, you can narrow down possibilities by:

  • Looking at vein patterns. One of your best bets for garden flower identification in your garden is to look at vein patterns in the leaves. Veins in plants look like little lines along the leaf. There are three main types of vein pattern:
    • Parallel veins look like lines that run directly from the stem of the leaf to the tip. They’re commonly seen in needle-like leaves.pine needles parallel veins
    • Pinnate veins branch off from a central vein in regular patterns. The word pinnate refers to the branching nature of these veins, similar to tributaries on a river or filaments on a feather.birch leaf pinnate veins
    • Palmate veins spread out in a spoke-like pattern. This pattern is common in oak and maple trees. It looks like fingers spreading out on a hand. maple leaf palmate veins
  • Examine leaf shape. You can also narrow down plant species by looking at whether a leaf is smooth on the edges or serrated like shark’s teeth. Some leaves are long and slender, while others are rounded. Finally, look at whether or not the leaf has any deep lobes (like the maple leaf above). All of these observations will help you narrow down what type of plant you’re looking at.
  • Comparing leaf patterns. Do the leaves branch out from the stem of the plant in a certain pattern? Examine whether the leaves are directly opposite each other in a two-by-two arrangement, staggered, or whirled around the stem.
  • Notice flower shape. For plants with flowers, be sure to notice the shape and size of flowers. Pay attention to if parts of the flower are droopy or upright and whether they have hundreds of petals or just a few. All of this will help you identify the plant in your garden.
  • Take note of color. Some plants have distinctive colors on the stems, root tops, leaves, or veins. Keep in mind that many domestic plants have fancy coloration thanks to selective breeding, so there’s a wide variety in many garden plants.
  • Looking for fruits or vegetables. It’s much easier to identify plants if they produce fruits or vegetables. Unfortunately, most fruits and veggies aren’t available until fall. This method might not help in the spring or fall!

Once you have this information, you can cross-reference that with the suggestions given by PlantSnap’s algorithm. If you’re still stuck, it might be time to call a local gardener for more advice. You might have a rare plant in your garden!



If you still have plant questions, there’s no shame in getting help identifying plants in your garden. Local gardeners and botanists are generally happy to help out. You can either take several good photos of your plant to show them or trim a small section of the plant.

How did you tackle your garden flower identification? What tips and tricks helped you out?


  1. Douglas S Capps

    check for local master gardeners

  2. Judy Hammett

    Upright flowering plant. Spiraling leaves emerge each time from the center of the previous spiral. Leaves are thin, pointed, and serrated on the edges. Light coral blossoms (somewhat bell-shaped) hang from the stem. Blossoms look slightly like “Coral Vine,” but the leaves are different, and it’s not a vine. Can anyone help? Two of these volunteer plants appeared in my garden. Thanks in advance! (I didn’t find it using the Snapchat app.)

  3. joseph

    A plant with red flower with thick leaf flowers are like spikes

  4. Nancy Johnson

    red flowers on long stalks with flag like leaves

  5. Roger

    I’m trying to identify a white flower. It grows up like a shrub, About 2 feet high, but dies right back in th winter. It has five petals on each flower, which grow in clusters. Fairly long pointed leaves. I live in Ontario.

  6. peggy nado

    What is the viney plant with pink flowers in your picture with the womans hand holding it?? THAT is the plant I’m trying to identify 🙂

  7. Moira Hanslip

    this plant came in a bouquet. It is red with red leaves….looks like a small chrysanthemum but has red leaves.
    the flower is red with white tips

  8. Léonie Golding

    I have many plants – about 2 feet tall, very spindly with thin leaves all up the stem. It produces mauve [or purple] leaves with a lacy effect around the outside edges. Every upright stem from the original stem has these flowers right on the top of the stem.

    • Léonie Golding

      An error in my request above – the purple FLOWERS have a lacy effect around the outside edges. Sorry for the error.

  9. madeline

    Hi I moved to this property in March and every day is a discovery of a plant, shrub or flower. I am in western Colorado, elevation 5300 feet. Big green oval pointed leaves came up about 3 weeks ago…has no water. Big beautiful while trumpet like flowers that last a very short time….seems they can’t take heat or sun??? any ideas???

  10. Erika Tanner

    I have used the app, and have tried asking friends and looking online to identify a flower in my garden here in Vermont- Is there any other way on finding information?

  11. Cathie

    What is this flower? In the lilly family??


  12. Judy

    I have a plant that was given to me. It has long green leaves that look like thay come from a bulb. The flowers are pink and dark pink with a darker stripe down the middle with five peddles. Smells great. Could someone tell me what this is and can it be planted outside? Thank you

  13. William Montonya

    i found a flower red the peddles are in a spiral twist around with a stem coming out the center black seeds at the top the leaves are rough the flower has a melon taste to it very sweet like watermelon

    • kayla

      That sounds really beautiful, William! Have you had any luck using the app?

  14. Margaret Patterson

    I have a plant in my garden that has pink and orange heart-shaped flowers.
    Could you please help me to identify it.?
    Thanks so much!

    • Kayla Fratt

      Thanks for writing in, Margaret! Do you have any more information on the plant? Have you tried using PlantSnap to identify it?


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