Tired of watching your garden not grow? These low-maintenance outdoor plants won’t let you down.
Through ignorance, neglect or just plain bad luck, I’ve had my share of gardening failures. But I’ve also been fortunate to discover a few low-maintenance outdoor plants that even I’ve been able to keep alive. Whether you’ve never planted a thing before in your life, or just want to select some hard-to-kill plants for a troublesome spot in the yard, here are five outdoor plants that can survive almost anything.
The blossoms of the wild geranium differ greatly from the more common red geranium plant. Hardy geranium flowers come in colors including blue, pink and magenta. (Photo courtesy of Benny Mazur)
I do nothing for this hardy, low-growing perennial, yet it rewards me with small five-petaled pink blossoms and zig-zag-edged greenery every spring. Far different from the popular red geranium plant, the wild geranium thrives in partial shade but adapts to a wide variety of sites.
Not fond of pink? Check out the many hardy geranium varieties, in colors including blue and magenta.
Consider carefully where you will plant oregano; this bright green-leaved perennial will return each year. (Photo by Carolyn Doyle)
Whether you pick up a packet of seeds or a Greek oregano plant from a nursery, think about where you will plant oregano, because the bright green-leaved perennial will come back every summer.
A favorite of butterflies, this low-growing herb has a familiar flavor that’s a natural with Greek and Italian food. Use fresh, or cut and dry stalks for your own dried oregano to sprinkle on pizzas all year long.
The purple blooms that top a chives plant in the spring are both attractive and edible. These hard-to-kill plants have a mild onion flavor. (Photo courtesy of Kilgarron)
Tired of buying green onions at the grocery and having half of them turn slimy in the fridge? Growing chives, another hard-to-kill plant, is a great alternative. Just snip off the hollow green stems about an inch from the ground as needed and add to a dish at the end of cooking for a mild onion flavor. The purple flowers on a chives plant in the spring are a nice (and edible) bonus. Their cousin, garlic chives, has flat, grass-like leaves, white flowers and a mild garlic flavor.
These low-maintenance perennials can get pushy; planting chives in a contained spot will keep them from taking over.
Oriental poppies are a beautiful addition to the garden. When you plant them, consider leaving room for other plants in front that can screen the dormant foliage once the poppy flowers have faded. (Photo courtesy of Uli Harder)
Providing big impact with little care, red poppies are one of my favorite hard-to-kill plants. I find the most difficult thing about this perennial is to remember that it’s not a weed! Until the poppy flower blooms, this scraggly-leaved plant looks like something you’d want to pull out of the garden.
When planting, dig deep to loosen the soil; a poppy plant develops a long root like a carrot. And while you’re digging, think about what you might like to plant in front of your Oriental poppies. Once their brief May-June blooming period has ended, the foliage goes dormant and leaves you with nothing but memories of poppy flowers until next spring.
Daffodils, also called narcissus, require little care and produce long-lasting blooms. These spring-flowering bulbs like to face the sun. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Wilkinson)
The squirrels eat my tulip bulbs, my hyacinths topple over and the crocuses stick around as long as cotton candy on a rainy day … but daffodils last and last. Also called narcissus, these spring-flowering bulbs require little care, but do like to face the sun. When you plant them in the fall, avoid soggy or shady spots. After they bloom in the spring, allow the leaves to remain until completely withered.
In addition to the familiar yellow flowers, there are white and bi-color varieties with orange or pink accents, not to mention miniature and even fragrant types. Note that daffodil bulbs require cold winter temperatures as part of their development and don’t do well in frost-free areas.