By Susan Martin
All photos are courtesy of Proven Winners
Today’s busy gardeners want and need low maintenance landscapes. They desire a beautiful yard but often don’t have the time or expertise to achieve the look they want. Read about 15 of the easiest annuals, perennials and shrubs that will ensure gardening success.
Top 5 Easy Maintenance Annuals
SUPERTUNIA® Vista Petunia
The best petunia for landscapes. Hands down. Supertunia Vista varieties deliver an outstanding performance over the entire season, lasting an extra month in southern states and well into fall in moderate climates. They are bred to flower earlier, grow taller and wider, and spread more vigorously than other petunias and they come in a rainbow of colors. No deadheading is needed for these plants to bloom from spring through fall.
SENORITA and PEQUENA Cleome
Gardeners have grown to love the Proven Winners line of thornless, seedless, odorless, non-sticky cleomes. They exhibit excellent heat, humidity and drought tolerance, bloom spring through fall and have minimal oedema disease issues. They are excellent spring extenders and offer all-season color on very low maintenance plants.
(Solenostemon scutellarioides) Extremely versatile in sun and shade, containers and landscapes, ColorBlaze Coleus are a must-have for vibrant landscapes. Their broad color range ensures there’s a variety to match every style scheme. All ColorBlaze Coleus are bred to be non-flowering or very late flowering, so you won’t have to pinch off any blooms to maintain their neat appearance throughout the season.
ILLUSION® and Sweet Caroline Ipomoea batatas
Sweet potato vines are a staple component in combination containers, adding useful textures, colors and forms to the mix. For a more controlled look with less maintenance, try the more compact Illusion or Sweet Caroline Sweetheart series or Sweet Caroline Bewitched. A bit less vigorous than the traditional sweet potato vines, these won’t take over the garden.
SUREFIRE® Begonia benariensis
For all-season color in sun or shade, nothing is as versatile as Surefire Begonias. You’ll be impressed by their thicker, more durable stems and larger flowers that just keep on coming without deadheading. They are a great alternative to Impatiens in areas that are prone to downy mildew. Use them as a single specimen in a container, combine them with other container plants, or add them to landscapes.
Top 5 Easy Maintenance Perennials
RAINBOW RHYTHM™ HemerocallisDaylilies are hands down one of the easiest perennials to grow and very low maintenance too. With little effort from the gardener, they thrive in sunny landscapes year after year. Other than removing spent flower stalks for a neater appearance, they only require division every few years. Proven Winners offers five of the very best cultivars available in a rainbow of colors.
The shorter, more compact habit of these native cultivars make them easier to manage than the full-sized species and they require little water and fertilizer to thrive. They top out at just 2 ½-3 feet tall and wide at maturity, bearing long spikes of colorful flowers in spring. Do NOT deadhead Baptisia! Doing so will remove the decorative seed pods that provide interest from fall through winter.
A reliable standby for shade gardens, hostas return faithfully year after year, multiplying quickly to form a sizable clump. You’ll have plenty to share within just a few years. Some protection from deer and rabbits may be needed if they are problems in your garden. Slugs are a common issue, but can be avoided by doing a thorough cleanup in fall to eliminate the eggs.
Coral Bells are remarkably versatile in containers and landscapes, offering evergreen color in delicious shades of purple, near-black, chartreuse and apricot. Trimming off the old foliage once a year in spring is the only maintenance required. In warmer zones without extreme temperature swings, gardeners won’t have to worry about heaving. In the north, Heucheras may need to be reset every few years to rebury the root ball.
ROCK ‘N GROW™ Sedum
Autumn Stonecrop is an excellent choice for low maintenance, low water landscapes. This is a plant you can truly plant and forget, as it thrives in almost any type of dry to average soil with little to no fertilization. Deer are the only pest you may encounter with this durable, long-lived perennial. For visual interest throughout winter, do not deadhead the russet seed heads until the following spring.
Top 5 Easy Maintenance Shrubs
NORTH POLE® and other Arborvitaes Thuja
Arborvitaes are commonly found in many gardens and for good reason—these evergreens make a very low maintenance living screen and add structure to the landscape. North Pole® is a popular selection that forms a narrow, upright column about 10-15’ tall and resists winter burn while maintaining a zone 3 hardiness. Thujas come in a variety of different shapes and colors, and can be pruned to suit your needs.
SHOW OFF® Forsythia
Forsythias announce the arrival of spring each year with their tremendously bright yellow blooms. The Show Off series is a more modern take on the shrub, with more flowers per inch and a more controlled habit. Tall, medium and short sizes are available with Sugar Baby being the shortest of the group, Starlet maxing out midsize, and Show Off reaching the traditional 5-6’ size.
‘Limelight’ and other Panicle Hydrangeas
Panicle Hydrangeas are among the easiest type of Hydrangea to grow, tolerating most soil types and blooming regardless of most climates, soils, pH, or pruning. Since it blooms on new wood, you won’t have to worry about winter killing back the buds and it will bloom reliably every year. Panicle Hydrangeas now come in a wide range of sizes from 2 ½-8’ tall. ‘Limelight’ is a top seller.
SUNJOY® Barberries Berberis
Barberries are popular foundation shrubs due to their brightly colored purple, gold and red foliage that often takes on glowing fall colors. Their colorful foliage plays especially well off of evergreen shrubs and trees. Sunjoy barberries are available in a range of colors and sizes, each bred to keep its size and shape naturally with little need for pruning. Gold Pillar is a favorite for its bright gold foliage and unique columnar shape.
BERRY POPPINS™ Winterberry and other Hollies Ilex
Hollies are extremely useful foundation shrubs for sunny and shaded landscapes. While some species are evergreen, other deciduous types are known for their heavy berry production and winter interest. Berry Poppins™ Winterberry Holly is an excellent dwarf selection of our native holly and is especially heavily fruiting. Consider Ilex when planning out your foundation plantings.
Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is a lifelong gardener and perennial specialist with 17 years of experience in the Horticulture Industry. She is a native of Michigan where she has been gardening since the age of four in both sandy and clay soils in zones 4-6.
Patent Info: NORTH POLE® Thuja PP22174 CPBR3912. SHOW OFF® Forsythia PP19321 CPBRAF. SHOW OFF® Starlet Forsythia PP24361 CPBRAF. SHOW OFF® Sugar Baby Forsythia PPAF CPBR4605. ‘Limelight’ Hydrangea PP12874 CPBR2319. SUNJOY® Gold Pillar Berberis PP18082. BERRY POPPINS™ Ilex PPAF CPBRAF.
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