Low-Maintenance Plants to Put in Your Yard This Summer
BY BARRY WALDMAN
Do you want a garden that bursts with life and color, but you don’t have time for all the fuss and muss that often attends gardening?
Hey, no problem!
Nature has created, for your viewing pleasure, numerous set-‘em -and-forget-‘em type plants that can give any garden that tended look with a pop of color. Let’s consider a quintet of plants that grow nearly anywhere and hardly require more effort than making a sandwich. Bonus benefit: they look great together!
Your guide for this garden is Darcy Whalen, interim president of the Charleston, South Carolina Horticultural Society.
Leave the large farm equipment alone there, John Deere, we’re talking about plants that grow in any soil, thrive under trees and in shade and shoot up two-to-three feet high if you go to the trouble of … mostly leaving them alone. Stick them in the ground, water when needed and enjoy their carotid-
shaped leaves (hence the name) and showy yellow blooms. Just don’t put them in the sun as they thrive in shady areas.
The belle of the ball, these mottled globes of colorful goodness come in a dazzling array of hues when they flower and hold their color all spring. Forgiving of climate and soil, they can reach 15 feet in height and will continue to bloom even if you cut their flowers.
So named because their resplendent flowers last but a day, these disease-free, pest-free, soil and sun-tolerant plants are not, in fact, true lilies because they don’t grow from onion-like bulbs. But you don’t care about onions or bulbs; you care about a beautiful garden and daylilies deliver with flowers that look like little bursts of fire. Each of the leafless stems produces 12-15 of these bright red and orange flowers, so the overall effect lasts weeks.
Sun-loving fun for the whole country, the black-eyed Susan is a garden workhorse with its hairy green stalks and yellow petals around a dark center disk. Plant it after the frost in almost any soil and enjoy its flowers all summer. It can become invasive, so pull up any stray shoots and deadhead it to extend the flowering season.
As the name suggests, this fragile perennial sprouts delicate bell-shaped flowers in pastel colors, perfect for ground cover and edging. There are so many varieties that you can find one that will grow in your soil and sun pattern. Coral bells are easy to grow, but do require occasional attention: they will die within a few years unless you divide them. C’mon, you can handle that!
You might have heard the gardeners’ aphorism about a window box or garden requiring a thriller, a spiller and a filler. You get all three with these five plants and you can stage them in tiers with the hydrangeas in the back, tractor seats in the middle, black-eyed Susans and day lilies up front and coral bells around the border. Darcy Whalen likes ferns to fill in the gaps, but they grow horizontally, so you may have to keep them in check.
Drop those plants in the ground and see how your garden grows. To maintain the low-maintenance ethos, says Whalen, start slow and build from there.
“Keeping size and quantity manageable is key,” she said. “If you’re starting out don’t plant a half-acre of stuff.”