I’m not lazy and I don’t think you are either. But this doesn’t mean we want to spend all our time working in the garden and zero time enjoying it. Book and lemonade in hand please! So as I get…ahem…older, I’m working on creating a space that I spend less time slaving over and more time savoring. This means incorporating plants and shrubs that don’t fuss too much. But first, you have to consider the location. Is the spot you are filling full-sun, shade and/or have dry or wet soil? Once you’ve answered that, you are golden. Here are sixteen plants that fit the bill for each location that are easy peasy. And now is a fantastic time to start collecting many of these perennials cheap as nurseries and big box stores alike are purging plants like it’s their job…because it is. And sure, I know the above picture is an annual geranium, but then again, I’ve had many survive our harsh Buffalo winters in my basement. So they’re hardy to say the least!
I. Full-sun low-maintenance plants
1.) Russian Sage
I love my Russian Sage and always keep my eyes peeled for roadside stands selling it cheaply. It adores my sunny perennial bed and never complains about water, doesn’t need to get pruned and flowers for an extended period of time in mid to late summer. Even better, it comes back year after year like a charm. What more could I ask for?
- Lavender flowers in summer; gray-green leaves; grows 3-5 feet; zones 4-9
2.) Rosa Rugosa
Pretty without the usual fuss and thorns of the typical rose. And it grows in just about every zone so it’s a good fit no matter where you live!
- Pink, white or red blooms in summer and autumn; 4-5 feet; zones 3-10
3.) Fulvous Day lily
Impossible to kill. That’s how I’d best describe a daylily. In fact, once you plant, you’ll never be rid of them. I just bought two pots of them this past summer from a guy digging them up in in front yard. At $2 a piece what a nice and easy addition to my perennial bed.
- Trumpet-shaped summer flowers in tawny orange; 3-4 feet in stature; zones 3-9
4.) Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ or Black-Eyed Susan
Every perennial bed has a few black-eyed Susan’s taking over. Still, they are pretty and make a wonderful picking flower. Their vibrant color will attract birds and butterflies.
- Brown-centered, gold daisy-like blooms in summer; 2 feet tall; zones 3-9
II. Shade low-maintenance plants
1.) Hosta Crispula
I love hostas for the ease at which they come back year after year. That is if the deer or rabbits don’t eat them first. Still, they are lush and gorgeous and give any garden a relaxed and exotic feel. I like to space mine out in the garden. The green backdrop of the hostas make just about every other flower pop next to them.
- Emerald, white-edged leaves; lilac blooms in summer; 2 1/2 feet; zones 3-8
These are new for me! Pretty in a delicate way, don’t you think? I saw my first epimediums at the Buffalo Plantasia show. Fragile and feminine, I was impressed and wanted some in my garden.
- Yellow, white or pink spring blooms; groundcover; 1 foot; zones 4-8
3.) Lenten Rose
Again, so pretty without the usual fuss and frustration your typical disease attracting rose causes.
- Cream or purple flowers in late winter; perennial; 1 1/2 feet; zones 4-9
4.) Bottlebrush Buckeye
It’s always a good idea to include native shrubs that are low-maintanence “filling in” those garden gaps. I like to plant super close so that my flowers will out-compete weeds. Saw these at Plantasia as well and was favorably impressed.
- Spreading shrub with white blooms in summer; 8-12 feet; zones 4-9
III. Dry soil low-maintenence plants
What’s not to love about this intriguing succulent that comes back year after year? Go ahead, grow these on a rock or a log for some real fun! They multiply and are some of the most fascinating plants on the planet.
- Starry rosettes of leaves, green, burgundy, or silver, 4 inches tall; zones 5-9
2.) Lavender ‘Munstead’
If nothing else, you have to love lavender for its smell. Whole garden beds could and should be built around lavender. And it dries so well for a plethora of crafting projects including lavender wreaths and sachets.
- Lavender flowers in summer and gray-green leaves; 2-3 feet; zones 5-9
3.) Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’
Sedum is as easygoing as it gets. In Latin, sedum means “to sit” which is logical considering sedums low stature to the ground. Although they spread rapidly, they are not invasive. Nestle them against a few rocks for even more visual appeal.
- Pink flowers in autumn that turn bronze in winter; 2 feet; zones 3-9
4.) St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is the new go-to plant for their vibrant yellow color! This tough little perennial shrub thrives with very little care. Sounds like my kind of plant.
- Summer-blooming shrub with bright yellow flowers; 1-4 feet; zones 3-8
IV. Wet soil low-maintenance plants
I love the furry tops of astilbes. Their bold color always calls my name at the garden center. Plus, I have some areas of my perennial bed that are super wet next to the gutter and my astilbe tolerates it well.
- White, rose or red summer flowers; glossy foliage; 3 feet; zones 3-9
2.) Helenium Autumnale
When your husband brings you home those half-dead artificially colored flowers from the grocery store, don’t you yearn for a handful of these instead? Not only do they make wonderful picking flowers, they give your garden that needed pop of orange and yellow. Great for attracting birds and butterflies.
- Yellow or orange, Daisy-like flowers in autumn; 3-5 feet; zones 3-8
3.) Trollius ‘Alabaster’
Trollius just scream spring to me. They are delicate and wakeful. They are pretty and fun. Treat yourself to a new addition this year and add trollius to your garden bed.
- Round, yellowish-white flowers in spring; 2 feet; zones 5-8
4.) Japanese Iris
My Japanese iris just might be my favorite plant in my garden. Tall, striking and stunning in appearance they grace me with their presence year-after-year. They bloom even after the turtle sandbox gets moved on top of them to make way for the grill. Now that’s being flexible! I always allow myself to pick one or two for an indoor hanging vase so I can enjoy them both indoors and out. And they are disease resistant!
- Blue, purple, pink or white spring flowers; 2 1/2 feet; zones 4-9
What’s your favorite perennial?