Low-Maintenance Perennials for the Northeast

Beloved, hardy, and old-fashioned, these low-maintenance garden plants are among the easiest you can grow.

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    Great-looking, no-maintenance landscaping doesn't have to be hard to find. If you pick the right plants, you can enjoy a yard that's filled with color from spring to fall without having to spend a copious amount of time tending it. We've pulled together a group of plants that are among the easiest to grow in the Northeast. Use these old-fashioned favorites in your garden to create the best-looking yard in your neighborhood.

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    Astilbe

    Beloved for handsome foliage and dense, colorful plumes of flowers, astilbe blooms in shades of pink, red, white, and lavender in early summer. Many selections have bronzy foliage, too. 'Fanal', a selection with dark red flowers, is a favorite here at the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden.

    Plant Name: Astilbe selections

    Growing Conditions: Shade and moist or wet soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: Shade-loving hostas for a great contrast in texture and color.

    Zones: 3-9

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    Veronica

    This versatile, sun-loving garden perennial blooms through the summer in blue, purple, pink, or white spikes. Some varieties of veronica are saucer-shape, while others form tall spikes (a variety of both is shown here). 'Royal Candles', a dark blue flowering form, is one of our favorites.

    Plant Name: Veronica selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: Shrub roses. These low-maintenance garden plants pair beautifully for classic cottage garden charm.

    Zones: 4-8

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    Miscanthus

    Perfect plants for any bed or border, many ornamental grasses offer four-season interest to your garden. Miscanthus (sometimes called maidengrass) is among the easiest to grow. We love the types that have silver-variegated foliage—it creates a more delicate appearance in the landscape.

    Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide

    Grow It With: Purple-leaf ninebark (another four-season plant) for a stunning contrast in shapes, colors, and textures all year long.

    Zones: 4-9

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    Blue Star

    This extra-easy-to-grow perennial takes heat and drought well. The low-maintenance garden plant isn't bothered by deer or rabbits and offers beautiful blue flowers in spring. Bonus: The foliage of blue star turns golden yellow before dropping in fall.

    Plant Name: Amsonia tabernaemontana

    Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: Peonies, which bloom shortly after amsonia to extend the bloom season. Plus, both plants feature fabulous fall foliage.

    Zones: 3-9

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    Trillium

    Native to woodland areas of the region, trillium loves the shade and offers beautiful blooms in shades of white, yellow, or maroon. These low-maintenance perennials can even be found growing wild in your backyard. Some have variegated foliage for extra interest.

    Note: Trilliums tend to go dormant in midsummer.

    Plant Name: Trillium species

    Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 16 inches tall and wide

    Grow It With: Groundcovers such as lamium. That way you won't be left with empty gaps in your garden when the trilliums go dormant.

    Zones: 4-7

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    Coralbells

    This slowly spreading plant is a hummingbird magnet. Coralbells produces spikes of bright red, pink, or white flowers in late spring and early summer. Many varieties have fantastic foliage overlaid in shades of silver, burgundy, bronze, plum, and gold.

    Plant Name: Heuchera selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall and wide

    Grow It With: Astilbe, which features feathery blooms that complement coralbells' blooms and contrast with their mounding habit.

    Zones: 3-8

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    Bee Balm

    Bee balm is a beautiful regional wildflower that's adored by hummingbirds and butterflies. Enjoy this low-maintenance perennial's flamboyant clusters of red, pink, violet, or white flowers throughout the summer. Because bee balm offers mint-scented foliage, many pests pass it by.

    Plant Name: Monarda selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: White liatris for a beautiful contrast in color and texture added to your landscape (as well as a surefire way to attract butterflies).

    Zones: 3-9

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    Soapwort

    This relatively unknown plant deserves a lot more attention. Soapwort is a cinch to grow and features clusters of phlox-like pink, purple, or white flowers in summer and fall. There is no doubt this low-maintenance garden plant will add color and beauty to your garden.

    Plant Name: Saponaria officinalis

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: Yarrow; both are sun-loving, low-maintenance perennials that make great cut flowers and have long bloom seasons.

    Zones: 3-9

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    Lily of the Valley

    This sweet little groundcover offers delicate, bell-shape flowers that feature a sweet scent. The deep green leaves of lily of the valley create interest through the rest of the season. This plant's pink and white flowers bloom "welcome" each spring with open arms.

    Plant Name: Convallaria majalis

    Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 9 inches tall and several feet across

    Grow It With: Japanese painted fern, a slow-spreading fern that creates season-long interest thanks to its silver- and burgundy-touched fronds.

    Zones: 2-7

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    Bleeding Heart

    This long-lived, low-maintenance garden perennial offers beautiful, arching spikes of pink heart-shape flowers in spring. The soft-texture foliage of bleeding heart is gorgeous as a cut flower or in containers.

    Note: Like trillium, it tends to go dormant in midsummer.

    Plant Name: Dicentra spectabilis

    Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

    Grow It With: Yellow corydalis, a cute perennial with ferny foliage that blooms spring to fall.

    Zones: 3-9

  • Next Slideshow Top Deer-Resistant Plants of the Northeast

    Top Deer-Resistant Plants of the Northeast

    If deer treat your yard like a buffet line, try these plants. But keep in mind that deer in your neighborhood may have already developed a taste for some of these plants. Unfortunately, deer do not read lists.
    Begin Slideshow »
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