As gardeners, we are constantly faced with challenges: plants that won’t bloom, flowers that die after a late-spring frost, droughts that wipe out entire beds. Gardening definitely has its fair share of difficulties, so every once in a while it’s nice to do some easy gardening that requires minimal maintenance. For the most part, these top picks are hardy, trouble-free and suitable for nearly any North American backyard.
Monarda, Zones 3 to 9
This flower’s unusual shape makes it a standout. Shades of purple, red, pink and white not only add brilliant color to the garden, but also attract butterflies and hummingbirds. For extra ease, choose
mildew-resistant Marshall’s Delight or Jacob Cline.
Eschscholzia californica, annual
Sweeping across the arid foothills and valleys west of the Sierra Nevada, a sea of golden-orange California poppies lights up the landscape each spring. The delicate, nodding blooms are ideal in rock and cottage gardens, rather than in formal flower beds. Just be ready to do some deadheading to limit reseeding opportunities.
- Future Plants
Heuchera, Zones 3 to 9
Coral bells’ tall, airy flower spikes rise elegantly above mounds of evergreen foliage that comes in a rainbow of colors. This plant works especially well in borders and containers, thriving in sun or shade. In addition to classic shades, coral bells’ foliage come in some unusual colors, such as black, silver, amber and even bronze.
Impatiens, annual in most zones
Reliable impatiens are shade-garden favorites throughout North America, and quickly grow to fill in bare areas with undulating mounds of color. Once planted, impatiens need very little care. Plants bloom from spring to first frost and, unlike some other annuals, require no deadheading.
Stachys byzantina, Zones 4 to 8
Easily recognized by its woolly silvery-gray foliage, lambs’ ears is a trusty bedding plant and ground cover that also makes a wonderful companion plant. Standing about 18 inches tall, lambs’ ears thrives in full sun to partial shade. You can’t go wrong with its long growing season: early summer to frost.
- W. Atlee Burpee & Co.
Tropaeolum • annual
This cheerful flower thrives on neglect. Once it’s established, the nasturtium performs best when left alone, providing vivid color from spring through frost. Some types have compact, mounded growing habits, while others are good climbers. This flower also makes a zesty addition to a green salad.
- Ball Horticultural Company
Viola x wittrockiana, Zones 4 to 8
This colorful flower is best known for the whiskered “faces” that mark many of the blooms. The majority of pansy varieties are annuals, though some live longer. Most perform best in cooler weather, so in many warm climates, some cultivars are used as delightful winter annuals.
Paeonia, Zones 3 to 9
A peony’s fresh, heady scent simply can’t be beat. In late spring, bushy plants burst with lush, showy purple, white, red, yellow and pink blooms that make this flower a favorite choice to use in colorful beds and bouquets.
Iris sibirica, Zones 3 to 9
An easy-care garden staple, Siberian iris produces white or jewel-toned flowers that can be planted in formal flower beds or naturalized for a more rustic look. Just be sure to plant it in moist soil.
- W. Atlee Burpee & Co.
Helianthus annuus, annual
There’s something about a sunflower’s bright face that makes you feel good. And when it comes to kids, there are few plants that draw more “oohs” and “aahs” than these towering blooms, which can soar up
to 15 feet! The centers are composed of tiny, nectar-producing flower clusters that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Flowers range from red to yellow to white.
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