Low Maintenance Perennials

donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)May 24, 2010

I just read the thread on dealing with borders as we age. It's a great one, if you haven't read it. As I read, I kept asking myself, how does one define a "low maintenace" plant? And, wouldn't we love to have a list of them? Granted, this may vary some from region to region, but still, it would give us all a great place to start.

For me, a low maintenance plant is one that, once it has been planted in well amended soil and watered enough to settle in, requires little or no pruning, fertilizing, DIVIDING, or deadheading in order to look its best. Looking its best for the entire growing season is good, all four seasons is GREAT.

Here are my top five easiest plants to maintain in my southeastern heat and humidity:


Roses (the modern kinds and some antiques. Prune once a year and deadhead if you feel like it.)

Amsonia taberaemontana

Nandina domestica: four season star: Sun, shade, moist, dry. They always look great with virtually no care at all.

Crinums: Southern bulbs, many of which bloom repeatedly from mid summer to fall. They actually dislike division!

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

You've set the bar pretty high, Donna. Here's my list....

Asarum europaeum
Astilbe if you have enough moisture
Baptisia australis
Dicentra spectabalis
Hostas if you don't have snails
Japanese Painted Ferns
Pennisetum 'Hamelin'
Penstemon 'Pike's Peak Purple'
Phlox divaricata
Sedum Autumn Joy


    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 6:46PM
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brody(z7 WA)

Oriental poppies, Siberian Iris, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola', hardy geraniums that don't self-sow, Rodgersia, calla lilies, daylilies, Crocosmia 'Solfaterre', Dierama, peonies, Coreopsis 'Moonbeam', Iberis sempervirens, hardy cyclamen, Eryngium amethystinum, Brunnera, Pulmonaria, Anemone nemerosa, Kniphofia, Phlomis fruticosa, sage, Artemisia abronatum, Hellebore, Chaerophyllum 'Roseum', any fern besides ostrich and lady ferns, most sedges. All of these go on 10 years or more for me with little care besides a bit of water in droughty times and clean up after bloom. None of them spreads or self sows too much, either.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 9:23AM
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Low maintenance perennials for me (all deer-resistant):

Baptisia (if you give them enough room)
Carex 'Evergold'
Cerastostigma willmottianum 'Palmgold'
Chrysanthemum 'Snow Dome'
Crocosmia 'Jenny Bloom'
Delosperma 'Kelaidis'
Dryopteris x australis
Geranium macrorrhizum 'Bevan's Variety'
Lantana camara 'Miss Huff'
Oreganum compactum 'Nana'
Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Longin'
Phlox divaricata 'Montrose Tricolor'
Salvia greggii
Saxifraga stolonifera 'Maroon Beauty'
Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues'
Vernonia lettermanii 'Iron Butterfly'

In deer-free areas, I would also add:

Diclipteria suberecta
Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

And a few woodies:

Edgeworthia chrysantha
Fothergilla 'Mt Airy'
Spirea 'Ogon'

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 10:15AM
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Echinacea "Pixie Meadowbrite"

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 10:52AM
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It is very impressive that the list of low maintenance is much longer than the list of high maintenance plants :)

My favorite:
Peonies (all kinds)
Clematis (all pruning types, but type III especially)

Not perennials, but the original poster mentioned shrubs:

Spirea. I have Lemon Princess and Spiraea japonica 'Golden Elf'. Both are maintenance free and look fantastic all the time.

All Weigela with dark foliage. Variegated varieties are quite finicky.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 11:05AM
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One immediately comes to mind, Echinacea Purple Coneflower! I never touch it...EVER! Others:

Shasta Daisy
Hydrangea Annabell


    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 1:08PM
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Here are my favorite, little or no maintenance perennials:
Butterfly Bushes
May Night Salvia
Shasta Daisy Becky and Silver Princess
Campanula Bernice
Dwarf Delphiniums
Dwarf Lupines
Painted Daisy
Non-Seeding Cranesbill - Jolly Bee is wonderful
Larger leaved Coreopsis

Depending on how much you want to do to them, many will rebloom again and again until frost with dead heading and a little fertilizer.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 1:21PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

This is a great thread! My favorites:
Rudbeckia- all types, Shasta daisies, Catmint, Oregano, Sage & Salvia, Butterfly bushes and weed, clematis, spiderwort (very hardy!), gaillardia (blanket flower), lantana, lilies and daylilies, yarrow (achillea), aster, gardenias, veronica, camellia, some roses, star hibiscus, beauty berry (calicarpa), rosemary, and hollies. Quite a mix! I hope some of these will spur some new ideas and plans for enlarging or creating gardens. Brandyray

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 11:44PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Dandelions, wild strawberry, wild honeysuckle, Sweet Autumn Clematis and too many more to name. I do nothing to encourage them and yet every year they show up.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 1:54PM
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