Easy care garden plants

Easy care garden plants are numerous, thank goodness. Are you one of those people who look at other people’s beautiful gardens and all you can think of is the work involved? But you’d have a garden like that if you could, right? What really hinders you from having the prettiest garden on the street? No time? Too much work? You’re not physically able for doing a lot of garden work?

Easy care garden plants

Astilbes, Filipendula vulgaris, (Meadowsweet), Daylilies and Rosa rubrifolia on the back left, make for an easy care garden.

The good news is, you can have a really beautiful garden with a minimum of effort on your part. The secret is in the plants you choose. When  I chose the plants for my parents’ garden, I tried to pick easy care garden  plants because they weren’t physically able to care for a huge garden. It got regular maintenance 3 times a year. Once in the Spring, and twice in the Summer, early and late.

A few tips for choosing easy care garden plants:

Here’s a few questions to help you when you’re out shopping for easy care garden plants.

  • What value does it give?
  • If it’s a shrub, does it bloom? Does it have colored leaves? Do the leaves change color in Fall? Does it bear fruit? Does it have flowers and scent and fruit? Does it have colored stems?
  • If it’s a perennial, what time of year does it bloom? Does it have interesting foliage? Does it have an interesting shape in the Fall/Winter landscape (ie. flower heads remain on plant)? Does it create movement in the garden? Is it pretty when it’s not in bloom? Does it have to be deadheaded all the time? Are the flowers the main feature or the foliage? Is it drought tolerant?
  • If it’s an annual, does it bloom all by itself all season long? 
  • Does it need winter protection?

When I’m choosing plants for a garden, I want to get the most value out of the plant as possible and I don’t want to have to spend all my time in the garden cutting and pruning, I want to sit back with a coffee and enjoy it. (But having said that, I do love playing around in the garden.) You probably feel the same way, right?

The first thing I think about is, the length of bloom time. Here in Hong Kong, I can plant plants that will bloom most of the year. I have a Hibiscus in the garden that is supposed to bloom all year long. The blooms fall off by themselves and it’s got beautiful evergreen foliage. Woo-hoo! My Impatiens is self-cleaning and blooms very well throughout the cool season, from November to May, when it starts to shrivel in the intense heat. I also have a Catharanthus that for years grew on it’s own in about 3 cms of soil, spreading it’s root along the length of the soil on top of the roof! When I came along, I planted it, and it’s been doing really great ever since. As a bonus, both Hibiscus and Catharanthus love the heat! These are what I call easy care garden plants!

Plants to consider:

Perennials

Easy care garden plants

Hemeracallis ‘Stella d’Oro’

  1. Hemeracallis cvs, (Daylilies): There are literally hundreds to choose from and they are all lovely! They are self-cleaning and bloom over a long period. They have super, long, strappy leaves that look good in the landscape. Look for the longer blooming varieties, like Stella d’Oro. It’s a smaller variety and commonly found. Maybe too common, but it’s a very garden worthy plant. Good to use as an edger in front of the bed or border. These plants are drought tolerant, once established.

    Easy Care Garden Plants

    Hosta leaves

  2. Hosta cvs: The flowers are secondary really, it’s the beautiful, ground-covering foliage that makes this plant so attractive. There are lots of different cultivars to choose from, depending on the size of your garden. You can get really tiny ones, or really big ones, like ‘Sum and Substance’.
  3. Astilbe cvs: There are lots of cultivars to choose from here too. The downside of Astilbe is that it needs some shade and the soil must be moist all the time. I put them in a rain garden where they received all the run-off from the paved driveway and they positively loved it!
  4. Sedum spectabile: This is a wonderful plant because it’s drought tolerant, once established. It is a succulent and it forms it’s flower over the summer and breaks into bloom in August, inviting all the bees  and butterflies to come join the party.

    Easy care garden plants

    Sedum spectabile

  5. Geranium macrorrhizum (Big Root Cranesbill): In an effort to reduce the maintenance in the garden for my parents, I planted a whole area with this ground cover. It’s one of my favorite easy care garden plants because it looks great, the foliage smells great, and the flowers are a pretty pink. It only flowers for a short time, but the foliage carries the show. It’s very effective in keeping out weeds as well. It’s drought tolerant and can be planted under trees where the soil tends to be drier.

Shrubs:

  1. Rosa rubrifolia: I’m in love with this shrub rose. It grows quite tall, so be aware of that. But as easy care garden plants go, it’s one of the best. It has no enemies. It doesn’t take over by suckering. It has pretty single pink flowers in June. But the best part of all is the big, arching, red stems that grace the plant all summer long. The leaves are a beautiful dark green with a reddish tinge, hence the name, rubrifolia. You might find it sold as Rosa glauca. It is the same plant. The only maintenance it needs is to whack it down whenever it gets too tall to manage. It will come back in all it’s former glory. Proved it!

    Easy care garden plants

    Syringa pubescens subsp. patula ‘Miss Kim’ on the left and Syringa meyeri ‘Paliban’ on the right behind the Oriental Poppies. Rosa rubrifolia is in the background on the left.

  2. Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’, (Dwarf Korean Lilac): This little shrub is great for a small garden. It gets by with little pruning. It’s height is about 4-5′ tall and 5-7′ wide. It has petite leaves that provide a pretty backdrop for other perennials and annuals. An added plus is that it’s hardy from zones 3-7. It’s perfectly suited to being used in a hedgerow.
  3. Syringa pubescens subsp.patula ‘Miss Kim’: This lilac is a must have in the garden. Plant it with the above Dwarf Korean Lilac. It’s slightly larger at 4-9′ tall but the spread is the same at 5-7′. Both of them attract hummingbirds and butterflies and make attractive cut flowers. It’s hardiness region is slightly wider, from zone 3-8.
  4. Hydrangea paniculata: This shrub is amazing. It’s got blooms all summer long and as the season progresses they change from cream to a variety of shades of pink. It can be pruned into a small tree. The blooms make beautiful, long lasting dried cut flowers. Highly recommended. Hardy from zones 3-8, it’s very hardy. We always had one in the garden.

    Easy care garden plants

    Red-Twig Dogwood

  5. Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’ (Red Twig Dogwood)My favorite thing about this plant is the gorgeous red stems. We had one planted beside the pond because they really do thrive in moist conditions. You could plant it in your rain garden along with your Astilbes. If you want lots of red twigs, then you need to prune it hard every Spring in early April. This will cause the plant to send up new twigs which are darker in color than the older, mature twigs of the shrub. These red twigs come into their own in winter when the garden is bare. But if you let this plant go, it will become a haven for birds and butterflies. It’s hardiness reach is zones 3-8.

The beauty of planting perennials and shrubs is that you don’t have to plant them every year. The plants I’ve recommended to you won’t need to be divided for 3 to 5 years, some longer than that. And the shrubs don’t need to be divided at all!

The annuals:

Easy care garden plants

Pelargonium cv.

These are the fillers. I would recommend Impatiens, Catharanthus, Pelergoniums (Geraniums), and any of the Proven Winners. They are winners because they have been tried and tested in real gardens by real gardeners.

Phew! This got kind of long. Now that  you  know about some easy care garden plants that grow in your area, you can have your garden and enjoy your coffee too!

What are your favorite easy care garden plants? Please share your favs in the comments! 

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