Low-maintenance perennial flowers make the hottest days of summer bearable. Once established, many can make do on just rainfall, or if that’s in short supply, weekly waterings from the hose.
Low-maintenance means no pruning or deadheading necessary, and not prone to bad habits like flopping over (I’m looking at you, aster). Most perennials will need to be divided every three to five years, a slow growing habit that counts for a low-maintenance plant in our book.
5 of Our Favorite Low-maintenance perennials:
Sedum like Autumn Joy and the improved variety Autumn Fire are stealth plants. They emerge early in spring, and mind their own business through the summer before popping out blooms that will last up till frost.
The pale green succulent foliage makes sedum a reliable background plant for showy annuals that are starting to wilt by late summer. Sedum is hardy in USDA Hardiness zones three to 10. As for wildlife, deer don’t like them, but butterflies do. Sedum will multiply through seeds, filling a flower bed with plants as soon as they’re established. Divide sedum every three to five years.
Lucky Southern gardeners in zones eight to 11 can grow lantana as a perennial. This perky plant produces clusters of brilliant blooms, usually variegated red, yellow, pink and orange on woody stems. Lantana is salt-tolerant, making it a favorite in coastal quarters.
A little light pruning may be necessary, but lantana is resilient through dry spells. In zones further north, lantana makes a fine annual. To keep the show going, you can even try taking cuttings at the end of the season and rooting them indoors to transplant next spring. (I’ve had lantana come back year after year in my zone 7b garden).
Gaillardia is known as blanket flower due to its resemblance to a Native American blanket once it spreads in the flower bed. The mound is covered in blooms.
Gaillardia tolerates poor soil, gets along fine with limited water, and is winter hardy in zones three to 10. It may flag a bit in late summer, just give it a little love for a late flush of blooms before the first frost. And yes, butterflies and birds love gaillardia.
Commonly known as Veronica, speedwell is a low-growing perennial with flower spikes in pink, red, purple, and nearly blue that emerge in late spring and bloom through the summer. The plant is known for compact growth, disease and deer resistance, and is winter hardy in zones three to nine.
Plant speedwell in a sunny location alongside low-maintenance favorites coreopsis and ornamental grasses. ‘Royal Candles,’ above, likes full sun, but given its generous nature, will tolerate light shade. Veronica makes a lovely cut flower, too.
5. Russian sage
Unlike others on this list, Russian sage needs a hard pruning in early spring, it should be cut down to four to six inches tall. Other than that bit of attention, Russian sage will grow happily on its own.
Once established in a sunny location with well-draining soil, it tolerates dry spells and rainy days alike. The flowers are small and purple and fragrant, giving the plant an airy look that pairs well with another low-maintenance perennial favorite, daylilies. Winter hardy in zones four to nine.
Low-Maintenance Perennial planting tips:
- Always read plant tags to make sure your plant will get the right amount of light.
- Keep perennial beds mulched to retain moisture and cool roots.
- In early spring, top off beds with fresh mulch and top dress with compost.