Low-maintenance Perennials

By Angie Eckert

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Longwood Blue'
Deciduous shrub

Reminds me of my working days at Longwood Gardens. It is a perfect way to add gorgeous blue to the late season garden. Attracts butterflies.
Athyrium niponicum var. pictum
Japanese painted fern

Color, color, color. Silver and purple are great additions to shade. Tidy and orderly plant.
Achillea 'Coronation Gold'
Herbaceous perennial

I love the "sidewalk" appeal. Bright blooms catch your eye from a distance. It is also deer-resistant and a trooper in the heat. Can be used as a dried flower.
Alchemilla mollis
lady's mantle
Herbaceous perennial

Perfect mounded bush. Needs moisture to look its best. Flowers are unusual. I love it with purple foliage plants.
Asclepias tuberosa
butterfly weed
Herbaceous perennial

A beautiful orange in summer. Butterfly magnet well worth a sunny spot in the flower garden. Puny the first year. Drought-tolerant and a prairie native.
Astilbe chinensis var. pumila
Chinese astilbe
Herbaceous perennial

Nice ground cover for shady spots. The first astilbe I fell in love with.
Astilbe chinensis 'Visions'
Chinese astilbe
Herbaceous perennial

I think the chinensis varieties are the easist to grow. They tend to be forgiving of varying moisture conditions.
Astilbe 'Rheinland'
Herbaceous perennial

I have found this astilbe to be one of the easiest to grow.
Baptisia australis
blue false indigo
Herbaceous perennial

I love the fullness of this plant. It looks like a shrub. The dried seedpods that turn black are worth waiting for. Plant takes a few years to fill out.
Brunnera macrophylla
Siberian bugloss
Herbaceous perennial

I like the coarse foliage and the tidy habit. Wish it bloomed longer though. Needs well-drained soil.
Centranthus ruber
red valerian
Herbaceous perennial

I remember this old-fashioned plant from my grandma's gardens. It is a loyal rebloomer through the summer with a bit of snipping back.
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
Herbaceous perennial

Exellent ground cover with bright blue summer blooms and fabulous fall color. I use it often with evergreen shrubs that need a punch.
Chelone lyonii
Herbaceous perennial

Perfect to grow with only late-day sun for late-season blooms. I love the dark green foliage.
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'
threadleaf coreopsis
Herbaceous perennial

Bread and butter perennial. It is overused but deserving of a space in the garden because of its long bloom time. The light-yellow flowers are a delight.
Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb'
threadleaf coreopsis
Herbaceous perennial

Bread and butter perennial. It is overused but deserving of a space in the garden because of its long bloom time.
Dianthus 'Feuerhexe' FIREWITCH
cheddar pink
Herbaceous perennial

Lovely blue foliage provides great contrast to green and persists through winter. Will rebloom with deadheading. Electric blooms!
Dicentra eximia
bleeding heart
Herbaceous perennial

Looks best in part sun. Reblooms are sparse but loyal. Fine foliage and mounded shape are a draw.
Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'
purple coneflower
Herbaceous perennial

Very drought tolerant and a butterfly magnet in bloom. Seed heads left to ripen will invite finches, so do not deadhead. Flowers do not reflex as much as the straight species.
Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum'
bishop's hat
Herbaceous perennial

All the epimediums are great. Their spring and fall color is hard to beat. Terrific ground cover for a change of pace from ivy and vinca. Dies back in winter.
Galium odoratum
sweet woodruff
Herbaceous perennial

Dainty groundcover for small areas. Needs moisture to succeed.
Gaura lindheimeri
Herbaceous perennial

I love the soft and airy presence of this perennial. The blooms appear to float. Will bloom from June to frost with adequate moisture.
Geranium sanguineum
bloody cranesbill
Herbaceous perennial

I love the straight species because the color is striking! A mounded plant for edging. Fall color is my favorite feature of this plant.
Heliopsis 'Helhan' LORAINE SUNSHINE
ox-eye daisy
Herbaceous perennial

A great plant for sidewalk appeal. LORAINE SUNSHINE's foliage is unique, but mine is losing variegation in its 3rd year. May need staking.
Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra 'Sommersonne' SUMMER SUN
ox eye
Herbaceous perennial

A plant with great sidewalk appeal. May need staking.
Hemerocallis 'Pardon Me'
Herbaceous perennial

'Pardon Me' is a nice change of pace from 'Stella D'Oro' but 'Stella D'Oro' still repeats bloom best for me.
Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro'
Herbaceous perennial

A great repeat bloomer. I love to use it in high traffic areas.
Heuchera micrantha var. diversifolia 'Palace Purple'
coral bells
Herbaceous perennial

This plant got me hooked on heucheras but I am liking varieties with a bit more color, such as 'Pewter Veil' and 'Chocolate Ruffles'.
Hosta (Tardiana Group) 'June'
Herbaceous perennial

The color is the seller here--blue and green! It is one of the last hostas to die back in the fall for me.
Hosta 'Ginko Craig'
Herbaceous perennial

The perfect edger hosta--tidy, small and clean.
Hylotelephium 'Herbstfreude' AUTUMN JOY
Herbaceous perennial 

Need summer pruning to keep compact. Pinch up until mid July. I like the late bloom time because it leads into my mums and the seed heads hang on.
Iris 'Caesar's Brother'
Siberian iris
Herbaceous perennial

Siberian irises look very grassy and the foliage is nice all summer (unlike the bearded types.) They are great changes of texture for the perennial garden. I love the sophisticated-looking blooms. Can tolerate wet sites.
Liatris spicata 'Kobold'
blazing star
Herbaceous perennial

Vertical flowers are a standout in summer. One of the most drought-tolerant plants I have grown. After bloom, I try to disguise the foliage with other perennials. Great cut flower.
Liriope muscari 'Variegata'
lily turf
Herbaceous perennial

I love this plant for edging sidewalks or in front of shrub borders. It brightens shady spots but will also handle sun.
Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'
Herbaceous perennial

I love the purple foliage in spring, which turns more green through the summer. The foliage always has a clean appearance.
Perovskia atriplicifolia
Russian sage
Herbaceous perennial

All cultivars are good.
Perovskia 'Filigran'
Russian sage
Herbaceous perennial

Use as a filler plant (like baby's breath in bouquets). I love the pungent foliage because it is deer- and rabbit-resistant. Cut it back to the ground each year even if it gets woody.
Phlox paniculata 'Robert Poore'
garden phlox
Herbaceous perennial

I am hooked on 'Robert Poore'. The long bloom time continues to impress me.
Pulmonaria longifolia 'Bertram Anderson'
Herbaceous perennial

Spotted foliage is a real treat. I have had trouble with root disease and seem to lose one each year. Still it is worth the effort in my opinion. Has unique foliage and flowers.
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm'
black-eyed Susan
Herbaceous perennial

I love the traditional blooms and this plant is so easy to grow. Spots on foliage are the biggest drawback but I just overlook them. Deadhead for extended bloom.
Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain'
lilac sage
Herbaceous perennial

So many salvias to choose from! This one is one of my top five. Deadhead for rebloom. Deer-resistant.
Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks'
rough goldenrod
Herbaceous perennial

Garden explosion in late summer. The flower is unique. An all-around tough plant.
Tricyrtis hirta
Japanese toad lily
Herbaceous perennial

Dark green foliage is a standout. Leaves tend to sunburn but I love the flowers and the habit so much I don't mind.
Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue'
Herbaceous perennial

A Perennial Plant of the Year in 1993. Clean foliage all season, bushy and tidy. I love the puckered leaves for a different texture in the garden.
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
feather reed grass
Ornamental grass

A grass that shares space! I love to use it in perennial gardens when a vertical element is needed. Looks great with black-eyed Susan. Plumes are showy in summer.
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Little Bunny'
fountain grass
Ornamental grass

Tidy little mounded grass. I have grown 'Hameln' for years and this is just like a baby 'Hameln'.
Clematis 'Jackmanii'

The no-brainer clematis. It can bloom on new wood so it can be cut back each year. Perfect for light posts.