Choose Easy-to-Grow Plants for a Low Maintenance Garden
Between work and school and a plethora of life’s other stresses, it can be quite difficult for the average person to make time for gardening. On the other side are those with a little more time but perhaps not the amount of experience or confidence to grow something at the risk of killing it. For both types of people there is a solution. The plants listed below are perfect for low stress gardening, which is something most of us could use.
Low maintenance plants are easiest understood in terms of what they do not need. They do not need to be dug up and brought inside for the winter, then replanted outside in the spring. They do not need careful pruning each fall. They do not need to be divided every three years. They do not spread quickly out of the flowerbed, so you won’t need to chop them back regularly. They do not seed in all over the yard, requiring you to chase down all those seedlings. They do not need you to cut off old flower heads or remove fallen leaves. Those things are required of higher maintenance plants. Here are suggestions of plants that you can almost plant and forget:
Succulents are slow-growing plants with thick, water-filled leaves, from many regions and many plant families. They have risen in popularity recently and for good reason. They aren’t fussy about where or what you plant them in, they require little other than sunlight and water, and honestly, they are just plain adorable. There’s something about their plump, smooth leaves and symmetrical designs that is deeply satisfying. This stonecrop is not only pleasingly colorful, but also tends to attract butterflies. Succulents to consider include stonecrops (sedums, genus Sedum), portulacas (for example Portulaca grandiflora), iceplants (Delosperma, Dorotheanthus and others), houseleeks (hens-and-chickens, Sempervivum) and others. Most are low-growing, slow to spread, and require no attention other than to pull out grasses and other weeds that appear among them. With succulents you spend less time worrying about them and can save your energy for more important things – like napping.
You couldn’t ask for a more relaxed plant than a grass. It doesn’t need any extra pampering and shoots up at the slightest encouragement. Ornamental grasses are the best because they possess all of that spunky hardiness of wild grass with the added benefit of visual appeal. After all flowers aren’t the only way to introduce color into your yard. There are plenty of colorful grasses that come in all kinds of whimsical forms. For example, if you dream of a yard that looks like a cloud of cotton candy, Pink Muhly Grass can fulfill that fantasy . Ornamental grasses are often sterile clump-formers, so they stay where you planted them and don’t self-seed. You don’t need to cut off last year’s leaves, but if you do the new leaves of spring hide those brown leaves sooner.
Ornamental grasses come in a variety of heights. Some will get four to six feet tall, others only six inches. Some have attractive flower heads that stay visible into the fall, others are grown simply for their leaves. Ornamental grasses include muhly grasses (Muhlenbergia), fountain grasses (Pennisetum), little bluestem (Schizachryium), flame grass and maiden grass (Miscanthus), festucas (Festuca) and many others. Some tall ornamental grasses flop over by late summer. Other tall grasses are stiff and remain vertical. Some really short grasses form a lawn of continuous grass, others will be in clumps with space between the plants. Look carefully at the different varieties in your planning. If you’re looking for a dynamic garden without having to bend over backwards to achieve it, ornamental grasses are happy to take the wheel.
Heucheras and More
For an effortlessly spectacular plant, don’t miss coral bells (Heuchera). With foliage so vivid it warrants a second glance, its attractiveness is challenged only by its ease of growth. Georgia Peach is a personal favorite because it gives a new display every season; peach leaves in the spring, sprinkling of white flowers in summer, royal purple foliage in fall. It’s like having three amazing plants in one, which is a boon for low energy gardeners. Did I mention it’s resistant to virtually every natural threat known to plant kind? Pestilence, disease, drought, and deer are no match for this dynamo of a plant. So, if you’re in the market for an appealing, near apocalypse proof perennial, it’s time to get yourself some heuchera.
Many other plants will grow easily for you, depending on where you live. You can plant peonies (Paeonia) and they will, year after year, reappear to flower in the spring, no action needed. Hydrangeas (Hydrangea) are many people’s go-to plant to fill an area with minimal fuss and there are many, diverse varieties. Daylilies (Hemerocallis) will spread to cover an area two to three feet deep in attractive tall leaves; in summer bright flowers from white to red. Other people love creeping junipers and other low spreading evergreens (Juniperus, Microbiota, Thuja and others) for year-round green and their pleasant scent.
No plant is perfectly maintenance free. You will have to pull weeds out of the succulents; you might want to remove spent flowers from peonies. Check your choice of low maintenance plant against your preferences and get one that, on the rare occasion you need to work on it, gives you a chore you find more fulfilling.
These are just a few examples easy to grow plants that you can try in your own garden. I encourage you go out and find the perfect one to match your energy levels. Gardening doesn't have to be time consuming or laborious to be rewarding. Give one of these beauties a try and who knows, you just might discover your thumbs are greener than you imagined.