Easy-to-Grow Perennials for Beginner Gardeners

Agastache Ava and Helianthus Santa Fe.
Easy-to-grow Agastache Ava is shown with Maximilian's Sunflower Santa Fe.

All About Easy-To-Grow Plants

Text By David Salman, Founder and Chief Horticulturist

Easy is good, especially when it comes to growing plants. I'm often asked when customers are buying a plant, "Is this one easy-to-grow?" Of course, the answer depends on your experience as a gardener and where the plant is going to be grown. Some places, like southern California, where the climate is mild and the soil rich, most plants are easy-to-grow. Taking that same plant and planting it into the difficult growing conditions I experience here in the windy, dry, hot and cold high desert of Santa Fe, the answer might be different.

But in general, I would define "easy-to-grow" plants as ones that are:

  • Forgiving as to their soil preference and do well in a wide range of soil types.
  • Don't get "crispy" when they dry out too much and bounce back quickly when watered.
  • Grow quickly and root out vigorously.
  • Are widely growable across a wide area of the country.
  • Have excellent cold hardiness and do well when transplanted in the fall.
  1. Papaver Collection

    Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale) are the royal family of the early summer garden. Their large (3-6") tissue paper-like flowers offer a translucent, almost glowing presence that i...

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    Oriental Poppy Collection (Papaver) Oriental Poppy Collection (Papaver)
    $91.91
    Per Collection of 9
    Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale) are the royal family of the early summer garden. Their large (3-6") tissue paper-like flowers offer a translucent, almost glowing presence that is breathtaking to behold. Fuzzy foliage will turn brown after flowering and disappear, to reappear in early fall. Our collection features 3 plants of each variety shown: Papaver orientale ‘Brilliant’, ‘Prince of Orange’, and ‘Beauty of Livermere’.
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  2. Some Like It Hot Collection

    If you have places in your landscape where most flowers seem to fry from the heat, these tough, long blooming perennials will solve the problem. They thrive in hot, sunny locations a...

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    Some Like It Hot Collection Some Like It Hot Collection
    Regular Price $82.91 Sale $74.62
    Per Collection of 9
    You save: 10%
    If you have places in your landscape where most flowers seem to fry from the heat, these tough, long blooming perennials will solve the problem. They thrive in hot, sunny locations and provide flowers over much of the growing season when kept deadheaded. These red, purple and yellow blooms will brighten your yard and withstand the heat. Drought resistant perennial plants (xeric). A collection of nine plants (three each of three varieties in 2.5" and 5" pots. Save $10 off the single plant price of $89.91.
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  3. Tried & True Dinnerplate Dahlia Collection

    Tried & True Dinnerplate Dahlia Collection is composed of three favorite Dahlias with dinner-plate sized blooms that just shout out big color. Thomas Edison, Kelvin Floodlight and Ba...

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    Tried & True Dinnerplate Dahlia Collection Tried & True Dinnerplate Dahlia Collection
    Regular Price $48.97 Sale $39.17
    Per Collection of 9
    You save: 20%
    Tried & True Dinnerplate Dahlia Collection is composed of three favorite Dahlias with dinner-plate sized blooms that just shout out big color. Thomas Edison, Kelvin Floodlight and Babylon Red Dahlias are all are classic favorites and will provide abundant 6-10" flowers. Blooming from mid-summer to frost, they will provide bright, beautiful cut flowers and light up the garden. Collection of three varieties, 9 bulbs (tubers) total.
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Gardening For Beginners: Steps For Transplant Success

There are a few steps that gardeners can take that will increase the ease with which a plant will grow. The first month in the ground is the most critical time to provide optimum care.

  • Use a root stimulator at least two or three times during the first month in the ground. I have had excellent success over the years using our High Country Gardens Root Stimulator Combo Pack (liquid seaweed and SuperThrive). When these two liquids are used together, there is a synergistic effect that encourages strong root growth.
  • Inoculate with Plant Success mycorrhiza fungal root inoculant. Let these amazing fungal root buddies do the work of helping your plants to grow.
  • Watch the watering, taking care not to over or under water your new transplant. Push back the mulch and check. If the top of the soil is still damp, wait a day; if the plant's foliage is off-green in color, or the soil surface is crusty, its dry and needs water.
  • Mulching the plant is key to maintaining optimum soil moisture, so I strongly encourage forming a nice wide saucer (slight depression surrounded with a ridge of soil) filled with a coarse-textured mulch material to hold irrigation water.
  • When watering, do it thoroughly by filling the saucer several times letting the water soak deeply into the planting hole. The warmer the day temperatures, the more often water will be needed. Perhaps every other day to start.
  • Spray all plants with a repellent (we recommend Deer Off), even deer and rabbit resistant ones, to protect from getting eaten.
Centranthus Ruber Roseus Pink Flowered Jupiter's Beard (Centranthus ruber) is easy to grow and blooms all summer.

The Most Easy-to-Grow Plants For Novice Gardeners

Select Blue Catmint Catmint grows easily in most soil types, including clay.

More Experience Needed

Once you've gotten the hang of the easiest to grow plants, you can try these beauties:

Mark New Transplants

When planting into an established garden, be sure to mark where you plant your new transplants. I use some flagging tape on a stake. I lose most of my plants because I forget where I planted them!

The Philosophy of Successful Gardening

  • Of course what you can grow well might be a tough one for me and vice versa. It always surprises me how this works. I think it's mismatched energy between plant and person. But it can also be that my garden conditions and soil are different than yours.
  • Be a positive gardener, because no one really has a "black thumb." If you expect failure, it will most likely be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Pay attention and be mindful during your time in the garden. Sing or talk to your plants to focus your time with each plant (George Washington Carver did). Your plants will respond positively even if you're a little off key.
Text by David Salman

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