The 10 Best Perennials for Lazy Gardeners

by Kim Reiss,
Manager Sugar Creek Gardens

No muss, no fuss. Get in, get out. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
If that’s the way you like to garden, then here are 10 “must have” perennial plants for you. Plant them once then sit back and enjoy.

Shade/part shade (4-6 hours of morning sun or dappled sun throughout the day)

1. Yellow corydalis is truly a no-brainer in the shade garden. It has wonderful, ferny foliage topped by bright yellow flowers, and it lightly re-seeds itself against the house or wherever it decides it’s most at home. It flowers throughout the summer. Likes it dry, grows to about a foot tall and wide (before spreading).

2. Geranium Biokovo ‘Karmina’ is truly a must if you’re looking for a flowering groundcover that has bright red fall foliage and evergreen leaves – what’s not to love? Flowers are magenta and bloom in spring; plant reaches 6”-12” tall and wide.

3. Lenten Rose is another evergreen beauty that flowers in multiple colors, often when there is still spring snow on the ground. Can reach 12”-18” tall and wide, but can take the place of a small boxwood for daring gardeners looking for something a little different.

4. Coral Bells are where color begins and ends in the garden! From chartreuse green to peach to majestic purple to everything in between, you can find almost every color in the rainbow in the form of a mounding coral bell. Usually about 12” tall and wide, and often evergreen in the landscape. Looks great in containers, too.

5. Sweet Woodruff is a textural delight on the garden floor, bringing dainty white fragrant flowers in the spring, then great textured leaves throughout the rest of the season. A great groundcover for under shade-loving shrubs. 6”-8” high and wide.
Sun/part sun (4-6 hours of afternoon sun)

6. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is an award-winning perennial geranium that does the work of a dozen flowers. If you don’t have one yet, then get off your couch right this minute and go get one! They’re that fantastic – purple blooms all summer with no deadheading and a soft, mounding and trailing habit. About 12” tall and 18” wide.

7. Perennial plumbago produces the true indigo flower that gardeners are always seeking in the form of a groundcover plant. I love it under roses because the blue flower contrasts beautifully with most rose colors, and the plant acts as a natural mulch to keep weeds down. Its foliage also turns an interesting bronzy/reddish color in the fall, which is a nice second season of interest. 8” tall and wide.

8. Blanket flower ‘Oranges and Lemons’ is my favorite orange and yellow in the perennial garden because it blooms like an annual but is actually a perennial. Even with no deadheading – because the seedheads are so interesting – this flower blooms its little heart out all summer, with a punch of color all summer long.

9. Herbs! Chives, golden oregano, thyme, etc. make great additions to the garden. Not only are they practical – you can step right out and harvest some herbs for dinner, but they add beauty, as well. Chives flower repeatedly, golden oregano is a stunning yellow ground cover, and thymes have a beautiful dainty flower that looks right at home between stepping stones.

10. Variegated iris or repeat-blooming iris are strong performers in the garden. Variegated iris have the beautiful purple bloom in the spring, but for my dollar, the drama starts with the strong white and green foliage that offers great texture in the garden for the rest of the season. There are also re-blooming irises that bloom in the spring, then again in the fall.

No excuses now for not getting at least a few plants in the garden. These are guaranteed to succeed for even the biggest couch potato. Who knows – maybe the next time you’re flipping through the TV channels, you’ll even watch a gardening show…

Kim is a manager at Sugar Creek Gardens and is president of the St. Louis Hydrangea Society.