10 Easy-to-Grow Plants for Outdoors

Low-Care Plants That Are High in Visual Interest

If you're new to landscaping or always on-the-go, you can still have a great-looking yard by using the ten easy-to-grow plants for outdoors covered here. The list was composed with an eye to providing you with a variety of choices. Thus you'll find examples from plant classes ranging from a tiny ground cover to a medium-sized tree. Likewise, some of the selections are sun-loving plants, while others are suitable for shady spots. And both flowering standouts and foliage plants are represented. 

  • 01 of 10

    Daffodils: Bulbs That Pests Don't Eat

    Low angle view of yellow daffodils against sunny blue sky

    Ron Bambridge/Getty Images

    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 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).

  • 02 of 10

    Lenten Rose: Low-Care Shade Perennial

    Lenten rose flower.
    David Beaulieu

    One thing to like about Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) is the fact that its "bloom" lasts so long, without any help from you. That term appears in quotation marks because it's not the true flowers that beginners are referencing when they marvel at this plant's color display, but rather what are known as "sepals."

    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:

  • 03 of 10

    Impatiens: Annuals Are a Beginner's Best Friend

    Red impatiens flower.
    David Beaulieu

    You won't hear the gardening elite talk much about annuals such as Impatiens walleriana, because they're dirt common (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 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, being relatively inexpensive, you can feel free to experiment with them and learn what not to do (for future reference).

  • 04 of 10

    Angelina Sedum: Covering Ground With Color

    Angelina sedum, a trailing type of stonecrop.
    David Beaulieu

    When we speak of "ground covers," we're talking not about a botanical classification, but rather about how the plants are used. The term is subjective (since any plant will cover some portion of the ground) but 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 we 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.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Hydrangea: Long on Looks, Short on Care Requirements

    Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    So far, we've dealt with short plants, and, in the next entry, we'll see a tall one (a tree). The shrub class furnishes options for those size needs that fall in between the extremes.

    A shrub such as Hydrangea belongs on this list because, like Lenten rose, it's the 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) offers bigger flower heads, and because they're white in color, the effect of the eventual fading is less jarring.

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

  • 06 of 10

    Sunburst Honeylocust: Bright Idea to Lower Maintenance

    Sunburst honeylocust with its bright yellow leaves in spring.
    David Beaulieu

    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 not as messy as many trees. The foliage is a pleasing yellow in spring and fall.

    If you live where the weather is warmer, another choice would be Natchez crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia x Natchez). It grows as a tree in the Southeast (U.S.), whereas, in a yard in New England, cold temperatures will limit its growth (it grows more as a shrub or large perennial, consequently).

  • 07 of 10

    Adam's Needle: Success With Succulents

    Yucca in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    Like Angelina sedum, Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa) is a hardy succulent. There is a wide range of easy-to-grow plants in this subclass of perennials. Some, such as Sedum Autumn Joy, produce attractive flowers. Others, such as hens and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum), flower only periodically and are valued primarily for their leaves.

  • 08 of 10

    Columbine: Native Option

    Red columbine in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    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. An example native to New England (U.S.) is red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Lamb's Ears: No Shepherding Required

    Lamb's ear with its silvery leaves.
    David Beaulieu

    Like some of the other examples given here, lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina) is regarded mainly as a foliage plant. Not only are its leaves a pretty, silvery color, but they are also pleasing to the touch (velvety soft). The low-care features of this perennial include the fact that it is a drought-tolerant plant.

  • 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). Golden Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra Aureola) is better in partially shaded conditions. Other plants are similar in appearance to ornamental grasses and so are sometimes treated the same, including:

    Postscript:

    These examples of easy-to-grow plants for outdoors qualify for the list because they require relatively little care. For instance, they may exhibit tolerance toward drought and pests, be easy to prune, need no deadheading, etc. However, newbies should not assume that gardeners can simply throw them into the ground and they will thrive.

    In the case of most plants, a little bit of labor on your part will be required if they are to look good in your landscaping. You must be smart about choosing, planting, and maintaining plants and ensure that you are giving your plants the healthy soil they need to thrive.