Perennial gardens, are in general, fairly easy to plant and maintain, but some perennials require less maintenance than others. Native plants are usually a good choice, so long as you mimic the conditions found in their natural environment.
Another important consideration when selecting perennials is winter hardiness. Select perennials rated for zone four or less if you live in an area with very harsh winters. The following perennials are known for their adaptability, low maintenance and beauty. Even beginning gardeners can successfully grow these plants.
Here is a list to get you started with an easy perennial garden:
Low Maintenance Full Sun Perennials
This old-fashioned flower has a reputation for being fussy, but as long as you plant it correctly, it will grow for 30 years or more, with little help from you. Plant peonies in full sun for best flowering and plant the eyes, or small protrusions on the roots, no deeper than 2 inches. Many people make the mistake of planting peonies too deeply. Peonies need cold winters to flower well, making them a good choice for Northern gardeners. Stake them if the foliage becomes floppy.
If you can grow lawn weeds, you can grow daylilies. These tough, hardy plants prefer full sun and evenly moist, well-drained soil, but they’ll thrive in gravely dry soils and blistering sun, as well. Daylilies spread quickly, and blend well with other perennial plants.
Plant bee balm in your perennial garden to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. This attractive plant stands 3 to 5 feet high, making it a good choice for the back of the garden. Bee balm spreads quickly and can become invasive in moist, rich soils. Thin it out annually to keep it under control.
Sometimes known as flags, bearded iris grows from tubers and blooms in mid-to-late spring. The delicate, velvety flowers have an interesting shape that is attractive in perennial beds or as a cut flower. Bearded iris tolerates almost any condition, although it grows best in full sun and slightly moist soil. Thin it out every two to three years and share the tubers with your friends.
The darling of the fall garden, chrysanthemums bloom when most perennials have long since faded. Plant them in full sun and well-draining soil. Pinch chrysanthemums back frequently to keep them bushy. Note: Some varieties are hardy to zone 5, but most are treated as annuals in Northern gardens.
Low Maintenance Shade Tolerant Perennials
If you grow nothing else in your shade garden, grow hosta. Hosta flowers are usually non-descript, but their extravagant foliage makes up for their flowers. Hostas come in yellow, variegated, blue or green shades and need slightly moist, fertile soil. In some areas, slugs may be a problem.
Astilbe are easy to grow if you have the right soil. Astilbes need moist, fertile, and acidic soils. In the right location, they are absolutely spectacular. However, they struggle in alkaline soils.
This sweet, old-fashioned plant produces delicate strands of heart-shaped flowers atop clumps of fringed foliage. Bleeding hearts need evenly moist soil, but are very cold hardy. A good choice for the Northern gardener.
These delicate flowers are best planted near the front of the shade perennial garden. Bell-shaped flowers sit atop attractive foliage that may be green, orange, purple or chartreuse.
Not to be confused with the annual geranium, this plant is a completely different species. It has attractive, rounded foliage and simple red, pink or purple flowers that appear in early summer.
Want to learn more about planting an easy perennial garden?