Get more bang for your buck with these reliable garden favorites.
When you’re at the garden store, the cost of plants can add up in a hurry. Before you know it, you’re spending $100, $200 and more on plants that you hope will work in your backyard.
Beautiful and reliable plants don’t have to be a gamble, though. Plus, you can even save money in the long run if you know what you’re looking for.
The 10 low maintenance perennials on our list will be back year after year, will save you money on watering (all are drought-tolerant!) and will eventually fill up a lot of space. So the next time you’re thinking about adding to your garden, stretch your dollar a little further and let our best-value plant list be your guide.
(Sedum species, Zones 3 to 10)
You rarely have to worry about whether this low maintenance will come back each year. One of the most reliable growers around, it offers delightful color well into fall. The star-shaped blooms are a treat for butterflies, and fall-blooming varieties offer fuel to monarchs and other late fliers on their journey south.
Why we love it: It’s one of the first perennials to emerge in spring, and then it offers interesting foliage until it begins blooming from late summer through the end of fall.
(Agastache species, Zones 5 to 11)
This drought-tolerant perennial often gets forgotten, but it’s the perfect addition to any wildlife habitat, with flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies all summer long. Late in the season, the seed heads provide food for birds. You can choose just about any flower color you want, with cultivars offering orange, pink, red, purple and blue blooms.
Why we love it: The tall blooms offer a great backdrop to just about any perennial or annual you add to the landscape.
(Coreopsis species, Zones 3 to 9)
Though you can also find this bloom as an easy annual to grow from seed, make sure you pick up the perennial version, too. It loves the sun and thrives in dry conditions. New varieties offer pretty alternatives to the traditional yellow blooms, and the orange, pink and bright-red -varieties add a color twist to this favorite.
Why we love it: Nothing beats the heat like this tough beauty. It just keeps going and going and …
(Pulsatilla vulgaris, Zones 4 to 8)
If you’re a gardener who appreciates unique blooms, it’s time you made room for pasque flowers. Early-spring bloomers, mostly with purple blossoms, they add an element of texture to your garden. While it’s not the first perennial many gardeners think of, the drought-tolerant, easy-care pasque flower definitely deserves top honors.
Why we love it: Once the flowers are gone, attractive ornamental seed heads last for several weeks.
(Sempervivum tectorum, Zones 3 to 8)
We love this tough plant with its clusters of rosette-shaped leaves. It seems to have limitless possibilities: Grow it in unusual shallow containers (like a pair of old high-heeled shoes!) or in rocky, challenging spaces. Newer cultivars are better than ever, so check them out at the garden center.
Why we love it: It’s very forgiving. It can go days without water, then it perks right back up once you remember.
(Yucca filamentosa, Zones 4 to 10)
If “More for less” is your motto, yuccas are a must-have. This enormous grower can get up to 5 feet wide, so instead of buying four or five plants for an area, fill the same space with just a couple of yuccas. The spiky leaves are a stunning focal point throughout the season, and tall white flowers bloom in midsummer.
Why we love it: The foliage lasts all season, so the blooms are just a bonus.
(Achillea species, Zones 3 to 9)
What’s not to love about this perennial? It can grow in almost any condition, it blooms all the way until frost, and it offers lovely color both in the garden and as a cut flower. Now all you have to decide is which cultivar to grow! Moonshine has light-yellow blooms; Red Velvet offers a nice strawberry-pink alternative. Just pick one that is not too aggressive, and you’ll be on the road to success.
Why we love it: Though yarrow is sometimes considered a weed, the right cultivar is like discovering hidden treasure!
(Penstemon species and cultivars, Zones 3 to 8)
Don’t let the delicate tubular blooms of penstemon fool you. This plant is tough, blooming early summer to fall. The signature perennial is mostly known for its scarlet flowers, but you can also find cultivars in purple, white and pink. For a distinctive look, try Husker Red, which sports reddish foliage and pinkish-white blooms.
Why we love it: With its red, tube-shaped blooms, it’s easy to see why it’s a hummingbird favorite.
Never underestimate the power of grasses. They are the perfect garden backdrop, adding texture, color and fullness to any space. Look for switchgrass (Panicum virgatum, Zones 3 to 9) for splendid fall color and also feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) for a stately sweep up to 5 feet. Ask local garden center experts for a grass recommendation, too, since they’ll know what works best in your area.
Why we love it: It doesn’t matter what your style is, there’s an ornamental grass to fit any garden space.
(Lantana camara, Zones 8 to 11)
What a beauty this abundant bloomer is! While it’s really considered a perennial only in warmer regions, you can keep this lovely plant going by using it in containers and then overwintering it indoors. If you’re successful, you’ll have a garden all-star for years to come.
Why we love it: The compact cluster of blooms has a tropical feel, and butterflies love it.
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