The ultimate goal for a low-maintenance perennial garden is to reduce the amount of time and effort spent caring for your flowers and plants. While we’d all love to have a colorful, lush yard to lounge around in, not all of us have the time in our busy schedules to tend to needy plants. Thankfully, there are plenty of flowers that flourish in our region, with minimal intervention required.
How Do I Make My Garden Low-Maintenance?
Generally speaking, you’ll want to stay away from exotic imported plants and tropicals because they’re not adapted to survive in our climate. Sticking to native plants that occur here naturally will often produce fantastic results with little effort. Many cold-hardy European varieties can also survive our chilly winters. Drought-tolerant varieties are also excellent choices because, if you forget to water your plants for a while, it won’t be the end of the world. Here’s a selection of our favorite low-maintenance perennials for St. John, Frankfort, and the surrounding areas of the Midwest.
4 Low-Maintenance Full Sun Perennials
Does your yard get plenty of bright, direct sunlight for most of the day? These sun-loving perennial flowers will happily soak up that sun and produce colorful, dramatic blossoms, with little else required.
Peonies: If you like a little romance and drama, these big, ruffled blossoms will add a dreamy, elegant air to your garden. With flower heads reaching as large as 10 inches across, your peony plants will undoubtedly draw the gaze of many admirers! Plant them during autumn, spaced three to four feet apart, in a hole that’s two feet deep. Skip the fertilizer, and ensure that there’s plenty of compost mixed into the soil when you plant.
Black-Eyed Susan: These sunny golden flowers are great for late-season color, typically blooming from June to September. While they are fairly drought-tolerant, try to water them before the soil dries out completely, especially during peak summer months. If you pick off the spent blossoms and cut back the flowers at the end of the summer, you may be greeted with a second round in the fall!
Dianthus: Also known as “Pinks,” these cousins of the carnation have candy-colored petals and a distinctive spicy scent that we absolutely love. They have an extremely long blooming period, from May until October, and some occasional deadheading will keep it growing steadily. Water them once the soil has dried out, and apply a little bit of slow-release fertilizer every two months during the growing period.
Coreopsis: The cheerful, vibrant petals of this native perennial makes it a total magnet for butterflies, bees, and birds—especially goldfinches! Plant them in loose, well-draining soil anytime between May and October, so long as there’s no risk of frost in the near future. For the first season after planting, give them plenty of water to help them develop properly. After that, they’ll be very drought-tolerant but will still appreciate some semi-regular watering to produce plenty of blooms.
3 Low-Maintenance Perennials For Partial Shade
If your yard is covered by a shady tree canopy, you’ve still got plenty of options! Some plants prefer to grow in cooler, shadier conditions because the hot sun can scorch their leaves. Here are three favorite perennials for shade gardens:
Hostas: Though their tall, lavender flowers are more subtle, the broad leaves of these round, mounded plants add tons of texture and visual interest. Some are solid, deep shades of green, while others have stripes and splashes of milky white and pastel pistachio. Plant them one foot deep, with plenty of space around them to accommodate their width (which will vary depending on your chosen variety).
Astilbe: Fluffy, cloud-like clusters of red, pink, and white flowers decorate this shade-tolerant plant, which can reach up to six feet tall! Plant them in moist, well-draining soil, six inches deep and two to three feet apart. One application of all-purpose fertilizer every spring should be plenty to keep it growing well each year. They spread quite quickly, which many gardeners will appreciate, but if they’re getting a bit out of control, you may need to cut them back a bit.
Cardinal Flowers: We love the bold, high-contrast colors of this native species. As the name suggests, cardinal red blossoms are perched atop tall, green stems, making them perfect for the center or rear border of your garden. They’re a particular favorite among hummingbirds because they’re drawn to the flower’s intense red shade and can easily sip from their trumpet-shaped blooms. Space them one foot apart, and apply a layer of mulch to reduce the need for watering.
For a colorful, fuss-free garden you’ll be proud to show off, find these garden plants on our online store! We can easily arrange for delivery or curbside pickup, whatever your preference. If you have any questions about planting or caring for your new spring additions, don’t hesitate to call us at one of our locations and we’ll be happy to guide you through it.