There is nothing more beautiful than a garden in full bloom. Once you have your beds ready for planting, you may be looking for a foundation of plants that require little or no maintenance. If you start with those easy-to-grow flowers, you can always pop in a few plants that take a little more attention or are a little more fussy about their environment in order to keep them in their prime splendor. You won’t be overwhelmed spending more time working in your garden and less time enjoying it. Here are 10 low-maintenance selections.
Coneflowers. Coneflowers are perennials that used to come in only a few colors. Boy, has that changed! Now coneflowers come in pinks and whites, but also bright orange, green, yellow and hot pink. Originally, the flower petals turned down, but now there are varieties that have petals that are held straight out. One thing that hasn’t changed is the hardiness of these flowers. They are almost indestructible and butterflies love them. If you leave the flower head to dry after blooming, the large central cone will provide seeds for the birds in the winter–or you could cut them and use them in dried flower arrangements. Coneflowers are drought-resistant and so easy to care for. Zones 3-9.
Scabiosa. Scabiosa, which is commonly called pincushion flower, is another easy-care plant for your garden. It can be grown almost everywhere in the U.S. and comes in blue, pink or white. The plant itself is about six inches high with blue-grey leaves, but the flowers grow on sturdy stems that are about 12 inches long. With the flowerhead held so far above the plant, the flowers will be dancing in the wind. The big two-inch blooms will keep coming throughout the summer, and with their long stem, you’ll want to cut some for a vase. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Peony. Peonies have been grown for over a hundred years. The easy care, huge flowers and incredible scent have combined to make the peony one of the most important flowers in the garden. Once established, peonies will literally come back each year for generations! There are many different types and colors to choose from, including white, yellow, pink, rose and red, or even bi-color. Peonies are fabulous as cut flowers and can last up to two weeks in the vase if the water is kept clean and the room is cool. Zones 3-8.
Russian Sage. Russian sage is one of the toughest perennials you can grow. It likes sun and, in fact, will tolerate drought conditions. The light airy stems are covered in tiny lilac blue blooms the entire summer. The bees and butterflies love this flower! Plant a Russian sage under a window and listen to the bees buzzing all day long. Zones 4-9.
Black-eyed Susans. This perennial is the perfect choice for flower blooms in late summer and fall. The flower petals are a deep yellow to gold color surrounding a dark brown cone. The plant sends up tons of flowers that are loved by the pollinators. Leave the spent flowers and the cones will feed the birds this winter. This plant can stand up to just about anything that Mother Nature sends its way, including drought, humidity, heat, poor soil and winter cold. Find a sunny spot to add this plant to your garden. Zones 3-9.
Hostas. Hostas are the backbone of the shade garden. These hardy plants can tolerate shade or semi-shade, and now there are even a few hostas that will tolerate some sun. Different varieties of hosta grow from miniature size to the giant 18-inch leaf size of Empress Wu! Hostas come in every shade of green and some are solid color, while others are striped or edged in white or yellow. The leaves vary from round to heart shaped to elongated. With all that variety, who needs flowers? Hostas will send up flower stems with white or purple flowers. Some gardeners like the flowers and others prefer to allow the leaf textures, colors and shapes to be the stars, so they remove the flower stems. Hostas will live for decades with little care.
Cosmos. Cosmos are a sun-loving annual whose name comes from the Greek word for beautiful. This is a light and airy plant with tons of flowers held on long stems. The colors come in two color paths. One is in shades of yellow, gold, orange and red. The other is in shades of white, pink, rose and red. Flower size ranges from one inch across to four inches–depending on the variety. The pollinators love these flowers. Easily grown cosmos can be direct-seeded in the ground.
Salvia. Salvia is a perfect plant for containers. Its compact growth habit makes it ideal in smaller spaces. The brilliant red salvia had been popular for some time, but other colors are gaining popularity also. Besides the eye-popping red, salvia is also found in white, salmon, light purple and a stunning purple and black. This plant prefers full sun and will tolerate drought and blazing heat. You will have to deadhead the spent blooms of this plant to encourage more flowers, but the blooms last so long that it is not a big chore. Salvia is a favorite of the pollinators and hummingbirds love them.
Zinnias. Zinnias are probably one of the easiest flowers to plant and grow. In fact, many a gardener will attribute the zinnia as the start of their love for gardening. Plant your zinnia seeds directly in the soil and, in less time than seems possible, you will be enjoying a riot of primary color blooms! Zinnias come in all different sizes–from miniature border height to stunning 3-foot-tall varieties. Plant your Zinnia seeds in a sunny location and you will be rewarded with wonderful flowers from early summer until frost.
Marigolds. Marigolds have been a favorite and grown by gardeners for years and years. Marigolds are sown directly in the soil in a sunny location. You can start the seeds indoors at the end of winter to transplant into the garden for the earliest flowers. Marigolds’ flowers are in shades of yellow, gold, orange, rust and brown. Marigolds also come in many sizes, much like the zinnias. There are sizes that will fit nicely in a container garden, or the magnificent 3-foot variety. Regardless of the plant size, it will be covered with flowers all summer and fall. Marigolds have a pungent smell that some insects don’t like, so the marigold has become a favored companion plant in the vegetable garden.
Before you start planting, check out what zone you’re growing in and then put your gloves on and get to gardening. Happy planting!