20 Easy Plants to Grow Outdoors

red impatiens

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

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 plants to grow. There are plenty of great options, ranging from tiny ground covers to medium-sized trees. Some are sun-loving while others are suitable for shady spots. You can also choose from flowering standouts as well as foliage plants that are prized for their fall colors.

Here are 20 easy plants to grow in your garden.

  • 01 of 20

    Daffodil (Narcissus spp.)

    Daffodils
    redhumv / Getty Images

    One of the biggest challenges in growing spring bulb plants is keeping pests away from them. But daffodils are notable for being virtually pest-free. The bulbs can remain in the ground for years, sending up bright spring blooms with little care on your part. Just cut back the foliage once it yellows to keep your garden looking tidy.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8

    Color Varieties: Yellow, white, orange, pink, bicolor

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Loamy, moist, well-drained

  • 02 of 20

    Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis)

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

    Lenten roses are easy plants to grow with a beautiful payoff. The blooms (which are technically sepals, not flowers) last for a long time in the spring without any help from you. Just make sure to situate these small, clump-forming plants in a spot that's sheltered from strong winds. Disease problems are rare, though rot can occur if there is poor soil drainage.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9

    Color Varieties: Pink, purple, white

    Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained

  • 03 of 20

    Impatiens (Impatiens spp.)

    red impatiens

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    Impatiens grow well in the shade, so you don't have to worry about finding a spot with lots of sunshine for these brightly colored flowers. Just remember to wait until after the danger of frost has passed before planting them. Also, pinching back the stems in the spring and early summer can help to promote bushier growth of the deep green foliage.

    USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11

    Color Varieties: Red, pink, violet, coral, white, yellow

    Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained

  • 04 of 20

    Angelina Stonecrop (Sedum rupestre 'Angelina')

    Golden sedum Angelina
    Nahhan / Getty Images

    Angelina stonecrop is valued as a foliage plant thanks to its bright chartreuse color, though it does bear small yellow flowers in the summertime. This ground cover plant spreads easily and is tolerant of poor soil and drought. It also doesn’t have any serious issues with pests or diseases. Just make sure it has sharp soil drainage. 

    USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8

    Color Varieties: Yellow

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Sandy or gravelly, dry to medium moisture, well-drained

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20

    Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)

    hydrangea

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    Hydrangeas sport long-lasting flowers throughout the summer that you don't have to deadhead (remove the spent blooms). Because these bushes bloom on new wood, pruning is also simple: Hack them down to the ground in late winter or early spring. Hydrangea species vary in appearance. Some have large, round clusters of blooms while others have smaller, flatter flowers.

    USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9

    Color Varieties: White, blue, green, red, pink, purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Loamy, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 06 of 20

    Sunburst Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Suncole')

    Gleditsia triacanthos Sunburst golden yellow autumn foliage
    Whiteway / Getty Images

    Sunburst honeylocust is an easy-to-grow tree in the sense that it is tolerant to many different growing conditions, it can handle pollution, and deer tend to avoid it. The foliage is a pleasing yellow in the spring and fall. However, it does have lots of thorns, so choose a thornless variety if you want to plant one in lawn space you frequent.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8

    Color Varieties: Yellow-green

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained

  • 07 of 20

    Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

    Yucca Filamentosa

     mr_coffee / Getty Images

    Adam's needle is a hardy succulent that is drought-tolerant and very low-maintenance. Its foliage grows in a rosette shape around 3-feet high, and tall flower stalks rise up in the summer. It's a great option for rock gardens or xeriscaping. Aside from light watering, the only maintenance it needs is optional: trimming its flower stalks at the end of the growing season for a tidier look.

    USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10

    Color Varieties: White

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained

  • 08 of 20

    Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)

    Columbine
    szaffy / Getty Images

    Never underestimate the value of native choices, such as columbine, when seeking low-care plants. Because they've adapted to your local conditions, they are quite capable of growth without much care from you. Red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), which is native to New England, is just one example. Out west, a good choice is Colorado columbine (Aquilegia caerulea). Columbine species generally bloom in the spring and summer with flowers that are said to look like jester's caps. At the end of the growing season, just cut the columbine stalks down to the ground.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8

    Color Varieties: Red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, pink, white

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • 09 of 20

    Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina)

    Lamb's Ear
    tc397 / Getty Images

    Lamb's ear is regarded mainly as a foliage plant. Not only are its leaves a pretty silvery color, but they are also velvety and soft like a lamb's ear. These are easy plants to grow due to their drought tolerance, resistance to pests such as deer and rabbits, and ability to grow in fairly poor soil. Make sure not to overwater, as this can lead to rot.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8

    Color Varieties: Pink-purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained

  • 10 of 20

    Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)

    Blue fescue

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Many ornamental grasses are very low-maintenance, including blue fescue. This low-growing, clump-forming grass features beautiful blue-gray foliage. It can handle drought and pollution, and it stays fairly tidy all on its own. Every few years, divide the clumps that have become overgrown. And trim back the foliage in the early spring to about 4 inches long to regenerate the plant.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8

    Color Varieties: Purplish-green

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained

  • 11 of 20

    Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola')

    Japanese forest grass

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Japanese forest grass features arching green leaves that grow in mounds reaching around 1 to 1 ½ feet in height and spread. This ornamental grass easily grows and spreads but not in an invasive manner. Pests generally leave it alone, and it can tolerate some pollution. However, too much sun can burn the foliage, so make sure to situate it in a spot with some shade. 

    USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9

    Color Varieties: Yellow-green

    Sun Exposure: Part shade

    Soil Needs: Humusy, moist, well-drained

  • 12 of 20

    Creeping Liriope (Liriope spicata)

    Liriope

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

    Creeping liriope is a clump-forming perennial with a grass-like appearance. Its narrow, arching leaves reach around a foot high with a slightly wider spread. It generally doesn’t have pest or disease issues, and it can even tolerate drought and pollution. The plant should be mowed in the early spring to get rid of degraded foliage and promote new growth.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 10

    Color Varieties: Lavender, white

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • 13 of 20

    Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens')

    Black mondo grass

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Black mondo grass is notable for its foliage: arching purplish-black leaves that grow in clumps reaching around 8 inches tall. This plant requires very little maintenance except for making sure its soil never fully dries out. The plant grows fairly slowly, but eventually overgrown clumps will need to be divided to reinvigorate them.

    USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9

    Color Varieties: Pinkish white

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Humusy, moist, well-drained

  • 14 of 20

    'Natchez' Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia 'Natchez')

    crepe myrtle

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    'Natchez' crape myrtle grows as a tree in the southeastern United States, but in colder areas, it's more of a shrub. This plant is known for having especially good resistance to mildew problems that tend to arise in other crape myrtle varieties. Its dark green foliage turns vibrant red to orange shades in the fall. Prune as needed in the spring to remove any dead or damaged portions and shape the plant.

    USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9

    Color Varieties: White

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 15 of 20

    Candy Oh! Rose (Rosa 'Zlemartincipar')

    Candy Oh! Roses

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Candy Oh! roses are notoriously easy plants to grow. They bloom continuously from late spring all the way until frost. These shrubs reach around 3 to 4 feet tall and wide with an upright, mounded shape. They generally don’t need pruning unless you have to remove dead or damaged branches or want to hone their shape. 

    USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9

    Color Varieties: Red

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Loamy, medium moisture, slightly acidic, well-drained

  • 16 of 20

    Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

    Snowdrops

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Snowdrops are some of the earliest flowers to bloom in the spring, even getting a head start in late winter. Their nodding white flowers even look a bit like little snowballs. These plants need very little maintenance and will continue to pop up year after year. For a tidy appearance, remove the foliage after it yellows, or just wait for it to disappear by late spring.  

    USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7

    Color Varieties: White

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • 17 of 20

    Periwinkle (Vinca minor)

    Vinca minor

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Periwinkle is a popular ground cover plant that blooms with small, tubular flowers starting in the late spring. It usually reblooms throughout summer and into fall. This plant can tolerate shade, rocky soil, and drought. And it doesn’t usually have pest or disease problems. Your main task will be to cut it back to prevent it from spreading to areas where you don’t want it.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8

    Color Varieties: Lavender blue

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained

  • 18 of 20

    Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

    pink peonies

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    Peonies are a showy addition to the landscape, with their large cup-shaped flowers that bloom in the mid to late spring. The dark green foliage remains attractive all the way to frost in the fall. These plants don’t typically need to be divided and can be left in the ground for years. Just remove the spent flowers after blooming, and cut the foliage back in the fall after it degrades.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8

    Color Varieties: Pink

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 19 of 20

    Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)

    Creeping juniper

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Creeping juniper is a low-growing evergreen shrub with attractive green to blue-green foliage. It’s low-maintenance and can adapt to a variety of growing conditions. However, it cannot tolerate wet soil, so make sure you situate it somewhere that has sharp drainage. 

    USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9

    Color Varieties: Nonflowering

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

  • 20 of 20

    Hardy Geranium (Geranium spp.)

    Hardy geranium

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    Hardy geraniums live up to their name. There’s lots of variety among these perennial geranium species, but most are dense, low-growing plants with showy five-petal flowers. They can tolerate poor soil and some drought, though the foliage might yellow in very hot, dry weather. So be sure to water them if the soil is in danger of drying out.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9

    Color Varieties: Blue, pink, purple, white

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained