Why plants should be bought in odd numbers

Aug 17, 2023
Why plants should be bought in odd numbers

Senior Landscape Architect at David Wilson Homes, Brian Hawtin, who has lectured in garden design and worked on TV shows such as Love Your Garden, explains the simple rule every amateur gardener should follow when planting up their garden.

“My golden rule of plant buying is that plants should always be bought in 3s, 5s, 7s or even 9s. A mistake many gardeners make is planting up in singles, pairs or even numbers. 

“Plants should clump, sprawl and intertwine, not sit in rigid lines or block shapes. Planting in odd numbers creates visual variety and offers maximum aesthetic impact.”

Brian explains why this is: 

Single plants don’t make enough impact 

“Unless you are buying specimens or ‘look at me’ plants like large trees, full shrubs or topiary, single plants don’t offer enough impact. Specimens are types of plant that draw attention, they’re conversation pieces that stand out among other plants in the garden and offer instant impact.” 

It looks most natural 

“Clusters of plants are what we see in nature. Buying in odd numbers is the best way to replicate this effect and make your outside space look natural.”


Even numbers bore the eye 

“You also want to avoid even numbers. Gardening is a form of art and, as graphic designers, interior designers and all manner of creatives will tell you, uniformity bores the eye and looks unnatural.” 

It’s cheaper 

“Another added bonus is that garden centres often offer discounts for plants bought in 3s. Therefore, buying in odd numbers can actually help you to save money - especially important when you’ve just moved into a new home.”