It may vary from climate to climate and season to season, but there are many wonderful perennial plants that can be labeled low maintenance. The two basic tricks are to pick plants that are suited to your site and allow them time to become established.
If you do this, you will have at least a few low-maintenance, undemanding plants providing interest and bloom in the perennial border. This is not to say your garden will be no maintenance. Where is the fun in that? But these 10 plants will allow you time to enjoy gardening.
01 of 10
Although native to marshy areas, Liatris spicata is surprisingly drought tolerant and accepting of all types of soil. It is a tireless bloomer, and the spiky flowers and grassy foliage add definite textural interest to the garden. With its high nectar content and tubular flowers, these plants are also magnets for monarch butterflies during their fall migration. To avoid staking, select a compact or low growing variety. It grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 to 9. It blooms mid-summer through fall. Its flowers are purple, pink, or white.
02 of 10
There was a time not so long ago when coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) were called "purple coneflowers." Now this extremely rugged prairie plant can be had in almost any color of the rainbow, including some bold, electric colors: purple, white, orange, yellow, pink, and red. The originals are still the hardiest, but as horticulturalists keep refining the breeding of the newer varieties, the varieties keep getting hardier and hardier. Coneflowers will bloom all summer with deadheading. Other than deadheading, coneflowers pretty much take care of themselves. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 10.
03 of 10
Heuchera got its common name of coral bells because the original garden plant had dainty coral bell-shaped flowers. The foliage was nice, but it was the froth of flowers that was the main attraction. Now, coral bells are more often grown for the colorful and variegated leaves. It blooms in late spring or early summer. Its flowers are white, pink, or red and the foliage can be anything from lime green to deep purple with lots of swirls and splotches in the mix. Most varieties favor partial shade, where their season-long color is always welcome. Despite the small size of the flowers, they are one of the most popular hummingbird plants. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8.
04 of 10
Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia) spreads rapidly but accommodates other plants by going around them. It makes an ideal ground cover, giving four seasons of interest when the leaves are still visible above the snow cover. Fuzzy spikes of pink or white flowers shoot out above the maple-shaped leaves. The velvety leaves remain attractive all season. Foam flower will take care of itself if planted in a shady or woodland setting. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9. It blooms in late spring or early summer.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Globe thistle (Echinops ritro) is one thistle that is not weedy or invasive. It does not require division because, with its long tap root, it does not like to be disturbed. It appears to be in bloom forever because the seed head is as attractive as the blue or white blooms. Which means there is no need to deadhead, and echinops even does well in poor, dry soil.
Although it stays in bloom for weeks at a time from early summer to early fall, the beauty does not end there. Globe thistle looks attractive even as it fades, and it makes a great dried flower, almost drying itself. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9.
06 of 10
Hostas are extremely low-care perennials. If deer and slugs did not love them so much, they would be almost perfect. Since they do most of their growing early in the season, a few applications of a systemic deer deterrent can greatly lessen the deer damage, and the thicker leaved varieties are less attractive to slugs. Most do best in partial shade, but the golden leaf varieties can handle a good deal of sun. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9. Its purple or white flowers bloom generally in mid-summer.
07 of 10
With fragrance, blooms you want to touch, and a carefree growing habit, is it any wonder peonies (Paeonia) are often called queens of the garden? It blooms in late spring or early summer with pink, white, red, or yellow flowers.
This favorite, old-fashioned perennial looks best if left alone. The heavy double blossoms may require some staking if they do not have other plants to lean on, but the single flowered varieties are usually able to stand tall on their own. The bushy foliage looks attractive all season.
Peonies prefer to stay put and do not adjust quickly to being divided. They can be prone to gray mold (botrytis), and the foliage should be cut back and disposed of in the fall. There is an incredible number of peony varieties to choose from to suit your garden's look. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 9.
08 of 10
Give Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) good drainage and full sun, and you will be rewarded with a haze of blue and purple that gets brighter and more vivid as the blossoms open usually mid-summer or early fall. The plants get woody stems but can die back to the ground in colder climates. Pruning down to 8 to 10 inches in early spring encourages new growth and profuse blooms. It is highly resistant to drought as well.
Russian sage has very few pest problems. Even deer do not like it. You will not need to divide your Russian sage, but you might get a few volunteers. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
The foliage of sea thrift (Armeria) resembles a tuft of grass, but do not be fooled. The flowers blooming in spring or early summer demand to be noticed by shooting up above the delicate foliage in bold colors: pink, rose, lilac, red, or white. The flower themselves resemble small allium clusters. If deadheaded, you will usually get a repeat bloom, and the whole plant can be refreshed by cutting down to basal growth, but it is not required.
Sweet looking plants, they are actually tough customers, able to grow in rocky soil and even in high winds and sea spray. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9.
10 of 10
Siberian iris (Iris siberica) is one of the most attractive and adaptable of the irises. Siberian iris has the typical iris leaf blades, but unlike many of their cousins, Siberian iris leaves do not flop or scorch after blooming in late spring. The plants remain a contrasting form in the garden long after the blue, purple, or white blooms have faded.
Siberian iris can spread quickly in moist conditions and require division when it gets crowded, or it will produce fewer flowers. But that is about all the effort it requires from you. In warmer zones, it may even rebloom in the fall. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9.