One of the most common reasons people throw up their hands — and throw in the trowel — is the discouragement they feel when their plants die. But guess what: it happens to even the most experienced gardener. Don't despair!
Whether it's your first time or fiftieth time planting a garden, these easy-grow, easy-care plants will make plant shopping a little less intimidating and a lot more successful. You can start them from seed or purchase starter plants at the nursery — just make sure you check the plant tags for specific growing conditions and climate zones.
If you don't want to mess around too much with your soil and are looking for low-maintenance plants you can set and (almost) forget, consider native plants. As the name implies, native plants are indigenous to your region. They've occurred naturally or developed over time to adapt to the unusual environment or harsh conditions of where you live. Native plants support the local ecosystem and survive with a minimum of care, making them a best bet all around.
To find out which varieties are native to your area, contact your local university's cooperative extension office. Ask for a plant guide or whether there are any upcoming workshops dedicated to native plants. Many regions also have native plant societies that can point you in the right direction.
For easy-to-grow flowers that need little care but still pack a colorful punch in the garden, consider the following:
- Annuals: cosmos, zinnia, marigold, nasturtium, begonia, bachelor's button, hyacinth bean, love-in-a-mist
- Perennials: delphinium, geranium, peony, forget-me-not, phlox, bee balm, bearded iris, aster
- Bulbs: tulip, daffodil, snowdrop, crocus, paperwhite, daylily, Oriental lily, Asiatic lily
If all you have is a shady spot in the yard or a space that gets only morning sun, brighten it up with these low-light plants:
- Annuals: impatiens, balsam, lobelia, bloodleaf, wishbone flower, amethyst flower, sweet alyssum, baby blue eyes
- Perennials: fern, hosta, hydrangea, astilbe, coral bells, foamy bells, meadow rue, lily of the valley
- Tender Perennials: begonia, fuchsia, coleus, caladium, calico plant, polka dot plant (these plants are commonly grown as annuals, as they're not hardy in cooler climates)
Drought-tolerant doesn't have to mean a brown desertscape. Those living in arid climates or desiring low-fuss, low-water plants can still fill their space with vibrant color:
- Ornamental Annuals: California poppy, Madagascar periwinkle, blanket flower, sunflower, strawflower, spider flower, moss rose, borage
- Ornamental Perennials: coreopsis, coneflower, yarrow, lantana, catmint, hummingbird mint, butterfly weed, Russian sage
- Succulents: agave, aloe, haworthia, echeveria, sedum, kalanchoe, aeonium, crassula (especially the jade plant)
- Edibles: rosemary, sage, summer savory, marjoram, thyme, bay, oregano, fennel
If it's your first time cultivating a food crop, go with these highly productive plants that are just as easy to grow from seed as they are from starts:
- Warm-Season Vegetables: artichoke, tomato, zucchini, pumpkin, watermelon, corn, string bean, mustard green
- Cool-Season Vegetables: fava bean, snap pea, radish, chard, kale, broccoli, beet, onion
- Herbs: garlic, basil, parsley, mint, sage, rosemary, oregano, lemon verbena
- Fruits: crabapple, currant, gooseberry, strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb (technically a vegetable, but commonly used in sweets)
Expert Tip: Stick with tried-and-true varieties. As a beginner, it's best to avoid specialty plants that require significant care throughout the season, or are not well adapted to your particular growing conditions.