10 Easy-to-Grow Plants for Outdoors

Low-Care Plants That Are High in Visual Interest

Close-Up Of Purple Hydrangea Blooming Outdoors
Takako Watanabe / EyeEm / Getty Images

If you're new to landscaping or you don't have a lot of time for plant care, you can still have a great-looking yard by choosing easy-to-grow plants that are versatile and require little maintenance. There are plenty of great options, ranging from tiny ground covers to medium-sized trees. And some are sun-loving, while others are suitable for shady spots. You can also choose from among flowering standouts as well as foliage plants that are prized for their fall colors.

  • 01 of 10

    Daffodils: Bulbs That Pests Don't Eat

    Daffodils
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    One of the biggest challenges in growing spring bulb plants is keeping pests away from them. Those underground bulbs are rich in nutrients, and pests such as squirrels may dig them up and eat them. Crocus and Tulipa are two spring bulbs that are difficult to grow, thanks to the multitudes of pests, such as gray squirrels, that eat them. Deer are another pest that plague these beauties of spring.

    Luckily, there are some deer-resistant bulbs. One is daffodil (Narcissus); another is snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • 02 of 10

    Lenten Rose: Low-Care Shade Perennial

    Closeup of Helleborus Penny's Pink bloom
    MichelR45 / Getty Images

    One thing to like about Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) is the fact that its blooms (which are technically sepals, not flowers) last so long, without any help from you. Lenten rose is a perennial shade plant. If you're seeking a low-care perennial for sunny areas, you can choose from among any of the following examples:

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • 03 of 10

    Impatiens: Annuals Are a Beginner's Best Friend

    Image of beautiful red Impatiens flowers in the garden.
    yod67 / Getty Images

    You won't hear the gardening elite talk much about annuals such as Impatiens walleriana, because they're so ubiquitous (and therefore fail to fascinate). But there are good reasons why these plants are so commonly grown. One reason is that they're handy for injecting color into spots where your perennials have come up short. Another is that they're such easy-to-grow plants for outdoors.

    Impatiens are known as shade plants but will also tolerate some sun in the North if supplied with sufficient water. Just remember to wait till after the danger of frost has passed before planting them. Growing impatiens and other annuals is a great way for beginners to get their feet wet in gardening because they are relatively inexpensive, so you can feel free to experiment with them.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Sun Exposure: Full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil
  • 04 of 10

    Angelina Sedum: Covering Ground With Color

    Golden sedum Angelina
    Nahhan / Getty Images

    The term ground cover does not denote a botanical classification but rather about how the plants are used. It is generally applied to plants that trail along the surface. In some cases, their stems will put down new roots where they come into contact with the soil, allowing them to spread readily. Such spreaders are easy-to-grow plants in one sense, but if they spread too much they can be invasive plants, causing you extra work (to contain them).

    Like Goldilocks, what you really want in a ground cover is something in that sweet spot in the middle, not too timid to spread its wings a bit but not so robust that it takes over everything.

    Angelina stonecrop (Sedum rupestre Angelina) is in that sweet spot. Gardeners value it as a foliage plant (it sports a chartreuse color), although it does bear yellow flowers.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Sandy or gravelly soil
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Hydrangea: Long on Looks, Short on Care Requirements

    Hydrangea arborescens 'Invincibelle Spirit'
    Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images

    Hydrangea is considered easy to grow because, like Lenten rose, it has long-lasting sepals that put on the real show, not the true flowers, which are short-lived. So you get a display that lasts throughout the summer without having to worry about deadheading. Since these bushes bloom on new wood, pruning is also simplified: Hack them down to the ground in late winter or early spring.

    The sepals of Hydrangea arborescens 'Invincibelle Spirit' are colorful (reddish-pink) when they first come out but later fade. Incrediball hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens 'Incrediball') offer bigger flower heads, and because they're white in color, the effect of the eventual fading is less jarring.

    Another low-care shrub that true flower lovers may prefer is Rosa Candy Oh!, which is fuss-free and blooms like crazy.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Fertile, loamy, well-drained soil
  • 06 of 10

    Sunburst Honeylocust: Bright Idea to Lower Maintenance

    Gleditsia triacanthos Sunburst golden yellow autumn foliage
    Whiteway / Getty Images

    Sunburst honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis Suncole) is an easy-to-grow tree in the sense that it is tough (holds up to street pollution) and is not as messy as many trees. The foliage is a pleasing yellow in spring and fall.

    If you live in a warm climate, another choice would be Natchez crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia x Natchez). It grows as a tree in the southeastern United States, but in colder areas such as New England, it's more of a shrub.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, clay, or sandy soil
  • 07 of 10

    Adam's Needle: Success With Succulents

    Yucca Filamentosa

     mr_coffee / Getty Images

    Like Angelina sedum, Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa) is a hardy succulent that is drought-tolerant and very low-maintenance. It's a great option for rock gardens or xeriscaping. Aside from light watering, the only maintenance it needs is optional: Trimming its tall flower stalk at the end of the year.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry, well-drained soil
  • 08 of 10

    Columbine: One Native Option

    Columbines
    szaffy / Getty Images

    Never underestimate the value of native choices when seeking low-care plants. Because they've adapted to the conditions in your neck of the woods over eons, wildflowers native to your region are quite capable of standing on their own two feet without much care from you. Red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), which is native to New England (U.S.), is just one example. Out west, a good choice might be Colorado columbine (Aquilegia caerulea).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Lamb's Ears: No Shepherding Required

    Lamb's Ear - Stachys Byzantina K Koch - Lamiaceae
    tc397 / Getty Images

    Lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina) is regarded mainly as a foliage plant, but in a special way. Not only are its leaves a pretty, silvery color, but they are also pleasing to the touch, being velvety and soft like a lamb's ear. The low-care features of this perennial include the fact that it is a drought-tolerant plant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, slightly acidic soil
  • 10 of 10

    Ornamental Grass and Similar Easy-to-Grow Plants

    Blue fescue, a small ornamental grass.
    David Beaulieu

    Some of the ornamental grasses don't require much care at all, especially the ones that are well-behaved and deer-resistant, such as blue fescue (Festuca glauca). For partially shaded areas, golden hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra Aureola) is a better option.

    Other easy-to-grow plants that have similar appearance and care requirements to ornamental grasses include border grass (Liriope spicata) and black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry, well-drained soil