Easy-to-Grow Perennials for Beginner Gardeners
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.
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.
The Most Easy-to-Grow Plants For Novice Gardeners
- Ornamental grasses (Panicum. Bouteloua, Sorghastrum, Sporobolus, Festuca, Schizachyrium, Helictotrichon, Miscanthus, Nassella, Muhlenbergia)
- Yarrow (Achillea varieties)
- Ornamental Onion (Allium 'Millenium')
- Jupiter's Beard (Centranthus ruber 'coccineus', 'Albus', 'Rosea')
- Tickseed (Coreopsis varieties)
- Cold Hardy Ice Plant (Delosperma varieties)
- Twinspur (Diascia integerrima 'Coral Canyon')
- Blanket Flower (Gaillardia varieties)
- Apple Blossom grass (Gaura lindheimeri 'Rosy Jane')
- Perennial Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliana varieties)
- Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia varieties)
- Blue Flax (Linum varieties)
- Catmint (Nepeta 'Select Blue', 'Walker's Low')
- Oriental Poppy (Papaver varieites)
- Russian Sage (Perovskia varieties)
- European Sage (Salvia sylvestris varieties)
- Hybrid Soapwort (Saponaria lempergii 'Max Frei')
- Summer planted bulbs (assorted varieties)
- Stonecrop (Sedum varieties)
- Golden Rod (Solidago varieties)
More Experience Needed
Once you've gotten the hang of the easiest to grow plants, you can try these beauties:
- Bluestar (Amsonia jonesii)
- Sundrops (Calylophus serrulatus)
- Wild Four O'clock (Mirablis multiflora)
- Pawnee Buttes Sand Cherry (Prunus besseyii)
- Great Basin Sage (Salvia dorrii)
- Giant Mojave Sage (Salvia pachyphylla and varieties)
- Prairie Zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora)
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.
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