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Easy Care, Low Maintenance Perennials


Low Maintenance Perennials | Long Blooming Perennials | Perennials for Shade | Fall Blooming Perennials | Perennials to Start from Seed | Dividing Perennials | Deer Resistant Perennials


There is such a thing as a low maintenance, easy care perennial plant. It may vary from climate to climate and season to season, but there are many wonderful perennial plants that can be labeled low maintenance. The two basic tricks are: 1) Pick plants suited to your site and 2) allow them time to become established.

If you do this, you will have at least a few low maintenance, undemanding plants providing interest and bloom in the perennial border. This is not to say your garden will be no maintenance. Where's the fun in that? But these 10 plants will allow you time to enjoy gardening.

1. Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Blazing Star (Liatris)
USDA Zones: 3 - 9
Blooms: Mid-summer through fall
Colors: Purples or white

Although native to marshy areas, Liatris is surprisingly drought tolerant and accepting of all types of soil. It is a tireless bloomer and the spiky flowers and grassy foliage add definite textural interest to the garden. To avoid staking, select a compact or low growing variety.

2. Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)

Coneflowers (Echinacea)
USDA Zones: 2 - 10
Blooms: Summer
Colors: Purple, white, orange, yellow, pink & red

There was a time not so long ago when coneflowers were Purple Coneflowers. Now this extremely rugged prairie plant can be had in almost any color of the rainbow, including some bold, electric colors. The originals are still the hardiest, but as they keep refining the breeding of the newer varieties, they get better and better. Coneflowers will bloom all summer, with deadheading. Other than deadheading though, coneflowers pretty much take care of themselves.

More on Non-purple Coneflowers

3. Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Coral Bells (Heuchera 'Green Spice')
USDA Zones: 3 - 8
Blooms: Late spring / Early summer, but grown for its foliage.
Colors: White, pink or red

Heuchera got its common name of Coral Bells because the original garden plant had dainty coral bell-shaped flowers. The foliage was nice, but it was the froth of flowers that was the main attraction. These days Coral Bells are more often grown for the colorful and variegated leaves. Heuchera come in shades of purple, butterscotch, mottled green and strips. Most varieties favor partial shade, where their season-long color is always welcome.

4. Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia)
USDA Zones: 3 - 9
Blooms: Late spring / Early summer
Colors: White or pink

Tiarella cordifolia spreads rapidly, but accommodates other plants by going around them. It makes an ideal ground cover, giving four seasons of interest where the leaves are still visible above snow cover. Fuzzy spikes of flowers shoot out above the maple shaped leaves. The velvety leaves remain attractive all season. Foam Flower will take care of itself if planted in a shady or woodland setting.

5. Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro)

Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro)
USDA Zones: 3 - 9
Blooms:Early summer to Early Fall
Colors: Blue or white

Here is one thistle that is not weedy or invasive. Echinops don't require dividing, because with its long tap root, it doesn't like to be disturbed. It appears to bloom forever, because the seed head is as attractive as the bloom. Which means there is no need to deadhead. Echinops even does well in poor, dry soil.

6. Hosta

Hosta Variety
USDA Zones: 3 - 9
Blooms: Generally mid-Summer
Colors: Purples or white

Hostas are extremely low care perennials. If the deer and slugs didn't love them so much, they'd be almost perfect. Since they do most of their growing early in the season, a few applications of a systemic deer deterrent can greatly lessen the deer damage and the thicker leaved varieties are less attractive to slugs. Most do best in partial shade, but the golden leaf varieties can handle a good deal of sun.

7. Peony (Paeonia)

Peonies (Paeonia)
USDA Zones: 2 - 9
Blooms: Late spring / Early summer
Colors: Pinks, white, reds or yellow

This favorite old-fashioned perennial looks does best if left alone. The heavy double blossoms will may require some staking, if they don't have other plants to lean on, but the single flowered varieties are usually able to stand tall on their own. The bushy foliage looks attractive all season. Peonies prefer to stay put and don't adjust quickly to being divided.

8. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Russian Sage (Perovskia)
USDA Zones: 3 - 9
Blooms: Mid-summer to Fall
Colors: Blue

Give Russian Sage good drainage and full sun and you'll be rewarded with a haze of blue that gets brighter and more vivid as the blossoms open. The plants gets woody stems, but can die back to the ground in colder climates. Pruning down to 8 - 10 inches in early spring encourages new growth and profuse blooms. Russian Sage has very few pest problem. Even deer don't like it. You won't need to divide your Russian Sage, but you will get a few welcome volunteers.

9. Sea Thrift (Armeria)

Armeria maritima - Sea Thrift
Photo: stylesr1 / stock.xchng.
USDA Zones: 4 - 9
Blooms: Spring to Early summer
Colors: Pink, rose, lilac, red or white

The foliage resembles a tuft of grass. The flowers shoot up on stems and resemble small allium clusters. If deadheaded, you will usually get a repeat bloom and the whole plant can be refreshed by cutting down to basal growth, but it's not required. Sweet looking plants, they are actually tough customers, able to grow in rocky soil and even in high winds and sea spray.

10. Siberian Iris (Iris siberica)

Siberian Iris (Iris siberica)
USDA Zones: 3 - 9
Blooms: Late spring
Colors: Blues, purples or white

One of the most attractive and adaptable of the irises. Siberian Iris have the typical iris leaf blades, but unlike many of their cousins, Siberian Iris leaves don't flop or scorch after blooming. The plants remain a contrasting form in the garden long after the blooms have faded. They can spread quickly in moist conditions and require division when they get crowded. In warmer zones they may re-bloom in the fall.

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