Editors' Picks: Favorite Fuss-Free Plants
This cultivar of goldenrod is a favorite of many gardeners for ending the season with a big show. It grows 3-4 feet tall with graceful, arching golden wands of blossoms that light up the fall landscape. Clumps gradually expand to fill the middle of the border without taking over.
Name: Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks'
'Irish Eyes' Black-Eyed Susan
A tender perennial that occasionally returns for an encore the following year, 'Irish Eyes' black-eyed Susan is best treated as an annual flower. It's named for the green eye of its daisylike bloom. Its height and habit make it look like a perennial, but it blooms nonstop all summer. It's not fussy about watering once established.
Name: Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'
Catmint is an often-overlooked perennial that's worth growing because it's virtually indestructible and has gorgeous blue flowers. Catmints come in a variety of heights from 6-inch-tall dwarfs to 3-foot-wide mounds of silvery blue. They emerge early in the spring and rebloom readily if deadheaded.
Name: Nepeta selections
Variegated Red Twig Dogwood
This shrub looks great all year, with green-and-white foliage in summer and bright red twigs in winter. You can prune it occasionally to stimulate new, more colorful twig growth, but it's usually not necessary to take out the shears.
Name: Cornus alba 'Elegantissima'
'Touching' lily bears big clusters of strongly fragrant creamy blooms with a rich raspberry-red throat. Its trumpet-shape blooms stand out in the garden.
Name: Lilium 'Touching'
Daylilies come in a wide range of colors and are nearly infallible in the garden. Some, such as 'Stella d'Oro', are reliable rebloomers. Golden 'Buttered Popcorn', with its 6-inch-wide flowers, is another favorite showstopper.
Name: Hemerocallis selections
Video: Growing Daylilies
Learn more about growing daylilies in your yard and see why the BHG garden editors like them!
Amur maple is a favorite because it offers great fall foliage color. It lends privacy and creates a wonderful backdrop for other plants during the rest of the growing season. The only maintenance required is pruning occasionally to maintain the shape of this small tree or large shrub.
Name: Acer tataricum
There's an amazing array of coneflowers available to gardeners. But it's hard to beat the show put on by native Tennessee coneflower. Its east-facing flowers bloom for up to 20 weeks each summer. And despite its state-specific name, Tennessee coneflower grows well throughout much of North America.
Name: Echinacea tennesseensis
Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye weed rises to 6 feet tall, creating striking late summer color in the back of the sunny border. It's a butterfly magnet that's also perfect for creating a perennial privacy screen.
Name: Eupatorium purpureum
'Blue Moon' Wisteria
Hardy as all get out, 'Blue Moon' wisteria is a blooming machine. This American native vine blooms as young as two years old, so you don't have to wait for it as you do other wisteria varieties. It smells great, looks beautiful, and grows fast, too.
Name: Wisteria macrostachya 'Blue Moon'
Merrybells offers dangling yellow bell-shape blooms in mid- to late spring and is perfect for adding early color to the shade garden. Its foliage looks as though the leaves have been stitched together by hand in zigzag fashion.
Name: Uvularia grandiflora
Also called false indigo for the rich blue shade of its flowers, this hardy perennial fills the spring garden with elegant spires of pealike blooms. It withstands drought -- and deer, rabbits, and other critters leave it alone. The bluish-green foliage looks great all summer long, and the charcoal-black seedpods create fun contrast in fall.
Name: Baptisia australis
Threadleaf bluestar is a pretty spring bloomer with pale blue starlike flowers and needlelike leaves that turn brilliant gold in autumn. It's ultratough, requiring next to no care. It grows in full sun or part shade and tolerates wet to dry soil conditions.
Name: Amsonia hubrectii
Peonies are longtime garden favorites for their fantastic flowers and amazing fragrance. Once established, peonies bloom for decades with virtually no care.
Test Garden Tip: Single-flowered varieties such as 'Krinkled White' hold up well even in rainy spring weather.
Name: Paeonia selections
A great annual flower for hot, dry beds near a driveway or other sun-baked site, portulaca is as fuss-free as they come. It is bright and cheerful, creeping happily along hot spots and flowering all summer. It rarely needs to be watered, and it often reseeds in the garden.
Name: Portulaca grandiflora
Columbine Meadow Rue
Columbine meadow rue tolerates heat better than its more common cousin, meadow rue, so it's great for adding fine texture to the summer garden. It's also shorter and stockier, so wind doesn't torment it so much. It reseeds in the garden -- but not excessively. Columbine meadow rue blooms in late spring to early summer.
Name: Thalictrum aquilegifolium
Starving deer may sample daffodils occasionally, but because they are poisonous they are one of the most critter-resistant plants available. The colors and sizes of daffodils vary more than most people realize, and they are nearly carefree once planted.
Name: Narcissus selections
Rose verbena is a perennial groundcover loved because it cascades beautifully down hot, dry, sunny slopes and bears an abundance of deep pink flowers. It is rarely out of bloom, but it puts on its strongest show in spring and late summer.
Name: Verbena canadensis
is tough-as-nails plant, which has feathery foliage on 3-foot-tall stems, is similar to threadleaf amsonia. Narrow-leaf ironweed closes out the summer with clusters of magenta blooms.
Name: Vernonia lettermanii
Diabolo ninebark is a plant-it-and-forget-it shrub. Its purple foliage looks good from spring through fall and creates great contrast with the shrub's white flowers in early summer. It seldom needs pruning or watering, making it a true garden winner.
Name: Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diabolo'
Snowdrift rose bears white flowers that appear constantly through summer and fall; it never shows any signs of disease; and it's winter-hardy into the coldest areas of North America.
Name: Rosa 'Snowdrift'
Snowdrop windflower naturalizes easily, creating a beautiful clump that's easy to divide and share with friends. It has cheerful white spring blooms and sometimes reblooms in summer.
Name: Anemone sylvestris
Canadian Wild Ginger
With its heart-shape velvety green leaves, Canadian wild ginger makes a great edger and groundcover for shady sites. It bears maroon bell-shape flowers in spring, but they are hidden under the foliage.
Name: Asarum canadense