• Sandi Manna

11 Care-Free (Almost) Perennials

Gardening is definitely my passion, but let's face it – it's not without its challenges. Some plants like a lot of water whereas others prefer less. Some do OK, but never really seem to thrive. Every once in awhile it's nice to have a plant that is happy to be planted where it is and doesn't need a lot of fuss.If you're looking to take some of the guess-work out of gardening, these plants might be a good fit for you. They don't require much maintenance and they can be all-stars in the garden.My top pick has to be Coneflower.

Coneflower has so many colors and varieties, there are endless possibilities. They grow anywhere from 2-5 feet high and 2 feet wide. They thrive in just about any garden. They love full sun but will tolerate a little shade. They don't need much water except maybe in periods of drought. They're great for wildlife as they attract bees and butterflies and the birds are irresistibly drawn to the seed. They're a great flower for cutting with their sturdy stems, and they're also deer-resistant! You can't ask for much more than that from a flower!

Shasta Daisy have hardy flowers with crisp white petals and a cheerful yellow center. These guys grow in a variety of conditions. Shasta Daisy is a classic perennial in any garden. They bloom in clumps from 2-3 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide. They're also relatively drought tolerant with sturdy stems that don't often need staking. They make great cut flowers with their dark green, glossy foliage. They prefer full sun but will tolerate a little shade. They're long blooming and deer-resistant.

Coral Bells are a great addition to the front border of any bed. I'm crazy about unique foliage and Coral Bells definitely delivers on this! They come in a rainbow of colors from burgundy to purple, caramel to mottled green, there are even red as well as chartreuse varieties. Delicate flowers atop long stems, these for me are a staple in every one of my landscapes. Drought tolerant, ruffled foliage never needs staking. Some varieties persist with foliage that looks pretty good even in winter. These are a great addition for adding interest to any landscape.

Crocosmia is a showstopper! Crocosmia has Iris-like foliage (it's actually part of the Iris family) with blooms that are produced on slender stems. They grow anywhere from 3-6 feet in height and 3-4 feet in width. They have many cultivars to choose from, but their unique flowers emerge in early summer and bloom all summer long. 'Lucifer' is a scarlet red variety that is one of my favorites! If a plant can be sexy, this is it! Loaded with rich red arching blooms, 'Lucifer' turns heads in any garden. Crocosmia plants grow from corms, much like Iris, and they will naturally spread over time. The funnel-shaped blooms have a subtle fragrance that enhances when dried. Crocosmia is relatively care-free. Drought tolerant and deer-resistant, this should be on your list!


Salvia, or perennial sage, is a very versatile plant that has a big impact with almost no care. They can take the cold as well as the heat. They're pest, disease, and deer-resistant. They don't need staking, nor do they need a lot of dead-leafing. These plants develop spiky, deep blue – almost purple flowers. This can be a color that's hard to get in the garden. They're drought tolerant and incredibly long blooming. They start blooming in early summer and in many cases, if tucked into a border near the house, they will bloom until we have a really hard frost.

Astilbe is a gem in the garden with its feathery plumes and fern-like foliage. They sport showy flowers above glossy green foliage and are attractive to butterflies. They prefer a part-sun to a shady area of the garden. They bloom in spring and come in a variety of colors such as red, pink and white. There are even a few varieties such as Fanal or Key West that have a tinged foliage! Again, deer-resistant, pest and disease-free. No need for staking, and as an added bonus, if you leave the blooms up after they've finished blooming, they make great winter interest in the garden.

Coreopsis is great for a pop of color in the garden! Drought tolerant and long blooming, they grow about 18 inches tall and are very floriferous. Some varieties have very fine foliage – such as the thread leaf coreopsis. This is nice for adding different texture in the garden. It's a native plant so it can take a little neglect in terms of water and fertilizer. There are varieties of pink, reds, and yellows. Some with narrow, lance-shaped leaves, and others with wider leaves.


From bearded Iris to Siberian Iris, there are a great many varieties. Many of the Siberian Iris bear a slight resemblance the woodland flower Lady Slipper, but without the price tag! I happen to be most fond of Variegated Iris just because of their sword-shaped variegated leaves. I find this adds interest to the garden even when the Iris are not in bloom. They too are deer-resistant and can tolerate drought fairly well once established. I bring them in and their showy flowers look great in a bouquet. They bear pretty lavender-blue flowers on sturdy stems and are a striking addition to the garden.

Black Eyed Susan is a perennial native to North America. They are very tolerant of drought and poor soil conditions. These are long blooming perennials with sturdy stems that never need staking. Butterflies, bees and other wildlife are attracted to this flower, and for good reason! Large, showy blooms emerge in June and persist into October. Their daisy-like flowers are good for cut flowers or in borders as well as containers. Drought tolerant, disease-free, and deer resistant, all GREAT characteristics in a perennial!

Feather Reed Grass is an exceptional grass. Unlike some of its counterparts, Feather Reed Grass is a very well behaved grass. It doesn't have a tendency to take over an area, nor does it shed in the winter. Some ornamental grasses shed all winter, which makes me want to cut them back in the fall. I like ornamental grasses for the interest they bring to the winter garden. Feather Reed Grass provides amazing texture, motion, and even architecture to the landscape. Their vertical nature creates an upward movement of the eye in the garden and can break up a garden if it lacks height variety. They are super easy to care for and one of my favorite grasses! They are very adaptable to almost any area, wet or dry. The do well with full to partial sun. This grass does well in rich soil, poor soil and even heavy clay soil. Yes, deer-resistant and disease-free as well. This should be the all-star in your garden.

Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed is a plant that is a trouble-free perennial native to North America. They produce clusters of flower heads that range in color from orange to yellow to red, and if you can't choose, there's even a variety that has both orange and yellow blooms on the same plant! They are cousins of milkweed and as the name suggests, they are butterfly magnets! These nectar and pollen-rich plants also attract hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficial insects. Their blooms sit atop fuzzy, green stems with attractive, lance-shaped leaves. These plants thrive in poor soil, and drought conditions. As an added bonus, the flower heads give way to seed pods which are very interesting in the fall garden.

Images Courtesy of Sunny Border Nurseries

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