10 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Gardening

You might not believe it, but you were born with a green thumb. It may have gone untended for a while, but it's there waiting for you to nudge it awake. Put away your theory of being a plant killer, that anything dies under your care. Forget those nagging thoughts of where your garden will live or when you'll find the time, it's there somewhere. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and you'll get more than you give. So, here are 10 tips for conquering your fear of gardening:

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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

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Landscape Ideas

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Top New Sun-Loving Perennials for 2014

This year, don't let sunny spots in your garden go empty. Fill them with any of these great new perennials for 2014.

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    • Top New Sun-Loving Perennials for 2014

      Add one of these cheery perennials and liven the sunny spots on your yard this year!

    • Cat's Meow Catmint

      The classic phrase "when the going gets tough, the tough gets going" couldn't be more appropriate for 'Cat's Meow' catmint. This hardworking newcomer is heat-, drought-, and deer-resistant, and produces wave after wave of pretty blue blooms. Unlike other catmints that have a tendency to flop over, 'Cat's Meow' remains compact and upright all summer. The foliage is delightfully fragrant, too.

      Plant Name: Nepeta faassenii 'Cat's Meow'

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 17–20 inches tall, 12–18 inches wide

      Zones: 3–8

      Grow it with: Knock Out roses

      Source: Proven Winners available from Walter's Gardens

    • Summerific Cherry Cheesecake Hibiscus

      You don't need to live in the tropics to enjoy the big, bold flowers of hibiscus. 'Summerific Cherry Cheescake' hibiscus is a new winter-hardy variety that survives as far north as Zone 4. It develops huge, pale pink flowers that are delicately etched in dark cherry. The plants can grow five feet tall and four feet wide, so be sure to plant it where it has room to spread.

      Plant Name: Hibiscus hybrid 'Summerific Cherry Cheesecake'

      Growing Conditons: Full sun

      Size: 48–60 inches tall, 40–48 inches wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Grow it with: Other hibiscus

      Source: Proven Winners available from Walter's Gardens

    • Cheyenne Spirit Coneflower

      No need to wait for 'Cheyenne Spirit' coneflower to burst into bloom. This vigorous new perennial will produce armloads of flowers the first year from seed. It's also an All America Selections winner, which means it scored high marks in test gardens across the country. The well-branched plants bear cheerful daisylike flowers in shades of purple, pink, orange, yellow, and white.

      Plant Name: Echinacea hybrid 'Cheyenne Spirit'

      Growing Conditions: Full Sun

      Size: 18–30 inches tall, 18–24 inches wide

      Zones: 4–8

      Grow it with: Black-eyed Susan

      Source: Great Garden Plants

    • Sombrero Flamenco Orange Coneflower

      If you want to spice up your perennial border, you can’t go wrong with ‘Flamenco Orange’ coneflower. This newest member of the Sombrero family sports bright orange flowers on strong stems that will stand up to rough weather. The plants seem to be in almost constant bloom and are highly attractive to butterflies.

      Plant Name: Echinacea Sombrero ‘Flamenco Orange’

      Growing Conditions: Full Sun

      Size: 24–26 inches tall, 18–20 inches wide

      Zones: 4–8

      Grow it with: Coreopsis

      Source: Ballhort, check local garden centers

    • SuperBlue Lavender

      Cold winters are no match for 'SuperBlue' lavender. Unlike other lavenders, this new variety can tolerate temperatures as low as 30 degrees below zero F. 'SuperBlue' blooms all summer long, producing dark blue, fragrant flowers and foliage. It grows 12 inches tall and does well in containers or gardens.

      Plant Name: Lavandula angustifolia 'SuperBlue'

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 10–12 inches tall and wide

      Zones: 4–9

      Grow it with: Dianthus

      Source: Burpee

    • Fireworks Igloo Chrysanthemum

      For bold autumn color, nothing beats chrysanthemums. But now there's a new garden mum that's guaranteed to take your breath away. 'Fireworks Igloo' forms a 2-feet-tall mound smothered in bright pink spider flowers. This fall blooming perennial has been extensively trialed and has proven to be both cold hardy and easy care.

      Name: Dendranthema 'Fireworks Igloo'

      Growing Conditions: Full to partial sun

      Size: 24 inches tall and wide

      Zones: 5–9

      Grow it with: Asters

      Source: Blooms of Bressingham

    • Siesta Helenium

      For years, gardeners have relied on helenium to provide summer color in their borders. Problem is, many of the older varieties would flop over at a moment’s notice. But this won’t happen with ‘Siesta’ helenium. It’s a compact variety that stays upright, growing just 18–20 inches tall. From June until September the plants produce masses of deep red flowers with pretty yellow centers. ‘Siesta’ helenium is also drought-resistant and attractive to butterflies.

      Name: Helenium autumnale Mariachi ‘Siesta’

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 18–20 inches tall, 24 inches wide

      Zones: 3–9

      Grow it with: Black-eyed Susan

      Source: Plants Nouveau

    • Fantasy Cinderella Anemone

      By late summer, some perennials start to look a little weary, but not ‘Cinderella’ anemone. In fact, that’s when ‘Cinderella’ is ready to party. This little charmer develops strong, wiry stems in late summer that are topped with bright pink flowers with yellow centers. The plants remain compact and will perform as well in containers as they do in the ground.

      Name: Anemone Fantasy ‘Cinderella’

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 12–18 inches tall, 18–24 inches wide

      Zones: 5–8

      Grow it with: Chrysanthemums

      Source: Plants Nouveau

    • 10 of 22

      Supreme Flamingo Coneflower

      Talk about eye-popping color! The large double flowers of Supreme 'Flamingo' coneflowers are an outstanding mixture of coral-and-deep pink. These drought-resistant plants bloom from midsummer until fall and form larger and larger clumps every year.

      Name: Echinacea Supreme 'Flamingo'

      Growing Conditions: Sun

      Size: 26 inches tall, 15 inches wide

      Zones: 4–10

      Grow it with: Other echinacea

      Source: Blooms of Bressingham/Terra Nova Nurseries

    • 11 of 22

      Supreme Elegance Coneflower

      The big bold blooms of Supreme 'Elegance' coneflower are simply spectacular. Each fully double flower has deep red centers surrounded by a rim of mauve pink petals that deepen in color as the flower ages.  'Elegance' coneflowers grow 30 inches tall, so plant them in the middle of your flower border. Flowers appear midsummer and keep coming until fall.

      Name: Echinacea Supreme 'Elegance'

      Growing Conditions: Sun

      Size: 30 inches tall, 19 inches wide

      Zones: 4–10

      Grow it with: Nepeta

      Source: Blooms of Bressingham/Terra Nova

    • 12 of 22

      Illumination Flame Digiplexis

      All of us at Better Homes and Gardens were blown away when we saw ‘Illumination Flame’ digiplexis for the first time. A hybrid between Isoplexis canariensis and Digitalis purpurea (foxglove), this award-winning new perennial develops stalks of large, tubular, reddish-orange flowers with yellow throats. The plant’s only downside is that it’s not hardy in northern climates.

      Name: Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’

      Growing Conditions: Sun, partial sun

      Size: 36 inches tall, 18 inches wide

      Zones: 8–10

      Grow it with: Cranesbill geranium

      Source: Skagit Gardens

    • 13 of 22

      Short 'n' Sassy Helenium

      When you think about perennials, heleniums are probably not the first plants that come to mind. But these pretty, easy-care natives deserve a place in every sunny border. What’s more, there’s now a compact variety that only grows 12–18 inches tall. It’s called ‘Short ’n’ Sassy’ and is one of our favorite new introductions because the plants stay in bloom a long time. Plants produce bright gold-and-orange flowers. Because it is so compact, ‘Short ’n’ Sassy' also works great in containers.

      Name: Helenium ‘Short ’n’ Sassy’

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 12–18 inches tall, 24 inches wide

      Zones: 4–8

      Grow it with: Echinacea

      Source: Skagit Gardens

    • 14 of 22

      Beyond Blue Festuca

      One of the bluest grasses you can grow, ‘Beyond Blue’ festuca has a richer, deeper color than the classic festuca grass, ‘Elijah Blue’. It also maintains its color throughout the season, even during dry periods when other festuca grass will turn brown. The plants thrive in hot, dry locations with poor soil. ‘Beyond Blue’ also develops graceful flower stalks in early summer. Because of its short stature, it makes a great container plant.

      Name: Festuca ‘Beyond Blue’

      Growing Conditions: Sun, partial sun

      Size: 4–8 inches tall, 8–12 inches wide

      Zones: 4–8

      Grow it with: Echeveria

      Source: Skagit Gardens

    • 15 of 22

      Black Truffle Lobelia

      Even when not in bloom, ‘Black Truffle’ lobelia looks great in the garden. That’s because it’s the first lobelia of its kind with dark maroon foliage. But of course, this rugged perennial is even more stunning when in flower. Each plant shoots up spikes of cardinal-red flowers that perfectly complement the dark foliage. The bright blooms are prized by hummingbirds. ‘Black Truffle’ lobelia thrives in rich, slightly moist soil.

      Name: Lobelia cardinalis ‘Black Truffle’

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 3–4 feet tall, 2–3 feet wide

      Zones: 3–8

      Grow it with: Colocasia

      Source: Plants Nouveau

    • 16 of 22

      Prairie Munchkin Little Bluestem

      Are you looking for a native grass that tolerates heat and drought and has no insect or disease problems? If so, ‘Prairie Munchkin’ little bluestem grass is for you. This new variety is shorter and more colorful than its bluestem parents. Growing just 3 feet tall, ‘Prairie Munchkin’ sends up feathery flower spikes in midsummer that remain upright even in strong storms. In the fall and winter, ‘Prairie Munchkin’ fades from blue to strawberry blonde, making it an almost perfect four-season plant.

      Name: Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Munchkin’

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 24–30 inches tall, 20–24 inches wide

      Zones: 3–9

      Grow it with: Russian sage

      Source: Plants Nouveau

    • 17 of 22

      Red Riding Hood Beardtongue

      When you plan your garden, look for perennials with native roots. ‘Red Riding Hood’ beardtongue, for example, is a selection bred from native plants found in the Western United States. That makes it especially tolerant of hot summers and dry conditions. Of course, the main reason you should include ‘Red Riding Hood’ in your garden is because of its neon-red tubular blooms that appear midsummer. This tough-as-nails perennial also is highly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

      Name: Penstemon ‘Red Riding Hood’

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 18–24 inches tall, 18 inches wide

      Zones: 4–8

      Grow it with: Perennial salvia

      Source: Monrovia

    • 18 of 22

      'Red Satin' Coreopsis

      A major color breakthrough for coreopsis, ‘Red Satin’ produces quantities of red-wine flowers held aloft on wiry stems with narrow, bright green foliage. It’s a lovely plant that stays in bloom from midsummer until fall, especially if you remove the flowers as they fade. ‘Red Satin’ forms a tight clump and won’t spread through your garden.

      Name: Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 15–18 inches tall, 18–20 inches wide

      Zones: 5–9

      Grow it with: Echinacea

      Source: Great Garden Plants

    • 19 of 22

      Mariachi Fuego Helenium

      Pure joy! That’s what you’ll have when ‘Mariachi Fuego’ helenium pops into bloom. This happy, easy-care plant produces masses of gold-and-orange daisylike flowers that look like they are dancing when their wiry stems are touched by the breeze. ‘Mariachi Fuego’ is also drought- and disease-resistant and grows bigger and better every year.

      Name: Helenium ‘Mariachi Fuego’

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 18–20 inches tall, 20–24 inches wide

      Zones: 3–9

      Grow it with: Ornamental grass

      Source: Plants Nouveau

    • 20 of 22

      Cleopatra Coneflower

      The lemon yellow flowers of ‘Cleopatra’ coneflower are a refreshing addition to any garden. Developed overseas, this newcomer is named for its bright yellow, slightly upturned petals that remind the breeders of the yellow European Cleopatra butterfly. ‘Cleopatra’ is also prized for its strong stems that don’t flop over, and its compact form that makes it suitable for garden or container culture.

      Name: Echinacea ‘Cleopatra’

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 15–18 inches tall, 18–24 inches wide

      Zones: 5–9

      Grow it with: Other Echinacea

      Source: Plants Nouveau

    • 21 of 22

      Julia Coneflower

      Developed by the same breeder as 'Cleopatra', 'Julia' also was named after a European butterfly, although this time the butterfly was bright orange. 'Julia' is a lovely new addition to the world of coneflowers that develops rich tangerine petals that curve slightly downward. It loves hot weather and is highly attractive to butterflies.

      Name: Echinacea 'Julia'

      Growing Conditions: Full sun

      Size: 15–18 inches tall, 18–24 inches wide

      Zones: 5-9

      Grow it with: Other Echinacea

      Source: Plants Nouveau

    • 22 of 22
      Next Slideshow 20 Best Perennials for Your Garden

      20 Best Perennials for Your Garden

      Here's an easy-grow collection of the best perennial flowers that are perfect for any garden -- especially if you're a beginner!
      Begin Slideshow »

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