27 Flowering Perennials that Thrive With Neglect
Are you looking for some perennials that will thrive on a little neglect? There are plenty of options to choose from, depending on your hardiness zone. In this article, gardening expert Kelli Klein shares some of her favorite perennial flowers that will grow just fine if you don't pay as much attention to them as you do other more high-maintenance plants.
Annual vegetables and flowers can be a lot of work. What if parts of your garden sprung up and flowered every year with hardly any effort on your part?
A surprising diversity of perennials thrive on neglect by adding beauty and diversity to your landscape without pulling your attention away from your annuals. These perennials will become fixtures in your garden, particularly in borders or far-out areas tough to reach with irrigation.
Most of these perennials will spread and fill in as the years go on. Also, most of them require little in the way of supplemental water. They are easy to care for and hardy enough to survive harsh winters. With very little maintenance you’ll be able to enjoy them for years to come. What more could you ask for?
Why Grow Perennials?
Annual plants require a restart each season, but perennials come back on their own. Still, there is nothing quite like the thrill of starting annual seeds each year. During the downtime of winter, you may have spent time pouring over seed catalogs and picking out new varieties. As the spring approaches, you may start your seeds indoors.
At the first signs of life, you coddle them indoors or in a greenhouse in their young and tender phase, slowly harden them off, and finally get them planted outside once they’ve fully acclimated. If all goes well, you’ll enjoy their beauty for the remainder of the growing season and the cycle will begin again next spring.
However, it’s even more rewarding to balance your landscape out by adding some flowering perennials that thrive on neglect. You hardly have to do anything, and they still reward you with gorgeous blooms!
Here are our 27 favorite perennial flowers that don’t need much to thrive.
There are two main types of irises that either grow from bulbs or rhizomes. Each type will eventually multiply and spread. However, rhizomes spread more vigorously. Irises are generally planted in late summer (or in the fall if you live in an area with mild winters). The trick is to get their roots established before the growing season comes to a close. Then they will bloom for the first time the following year.
There are over 280 species of irises globally, most native to Europe and Asia. There are, however, 28 varieties of irises that are native to the United States. The Louisiana is a beardless variety of iris that is native to the Gulf Coast region.
There are five species of beardless iris to look out for: Iris brevicaulis, Iris fulva, Iris hexagona, Iris giganticaerulea, and Iris nelsonii. Bearded irises contain a “beard” that appears as a fuzzy appendage just above the lower petals. There are over 60,000 cultivars of these!
Irises are low maintenance, produce reliable stunning blooms, and do not need supplemental water. Depending on the type, they are best suited to USDA growing zones 3-9. Once they are established, irises are drought tolerant.
Irises require a full sun location with well-draining soil to thrive. Their minimal care requirements include cutting back the flowering stem once the flower has faded (deadheading) and cutting back the foliage as it dies back at the end of the growing season (seasonal pruning). That’s it!
Hollyhocks, the flowering plants of the Alcea species are the perfect perennial flower to plant as a backdrop to your pollinator garden. The bees love them! They are known for their tall stems that produce blooms from the base of the plant to the top.
Hollyhocks can grow up to 8 feet tall! Hollyhocks can be grown from seed or transplants. Each flower will eventually die back and produce a seed pod. You can collect the seeds at the end of the growing season and use them to fill out your hollyhock patch as the years go on.
In most areas, hollyhocks are short-lived perennials or biennials, making collecting the seeds even more important for keeping your hollyhock patch going, but this is easy. It’s a great task for kids to collect the seed pods, break them open, and spread the seeds around each fall.
Hollyhocks are a part of the mallow family and are related to Hibiscus (also a part of this list). The tall spires of blooms are the reward that comes from cultivating hollyhocks.
The height of the spire depends on the amount of water the plant receives in the spring. Hollyhocks are drought tolerant and will survive and bloom in dry conditions, but their spires might not reach their full height potential. They will easily reach 7-8 feet tall in years with a lot of rain.
Hollyhocks can survive in partial shade but will bloom more profusely in a full-sun location. Hollyhocks do best in USDA growing zones 3-8. Keep your hollyhocks well-watered after transplanting. Once they’ve reached maturity and become established, they will become more drought tolerant and can thrive when watered once every 2-3 weeks for the remainder of the growing season.
Choose a planting site with well-drained soil to keep your hollyhocks happy. At the end of the growing season, after the flowers have died back and seed pods have been collected, cut the flower stalk down to a few inches above the ground. Your hollyhock will come back to life the following spring!
Daylilies are members of the Hemerocallis genus. They’re easy to grow, low maintenance, bloom profusely, and don’t mind neglect. These long-lived perennials bloom abundantly, though each bloom only lasts for one day, thus the name daylily. Despite its name, it is not a lily. Unlike true lilies that grow from bulbs, daylilies grow from fleshy roots. These perennials are hardy and drought-tolerant and will spread and multiply.
These plants are also edible! This trait differentiates them from true lilies, as true lilies are highly toxic. Daylilies are popular in Asian cuisine, and all plant parts are edible. Young shoots can be sauteed, the tuberous roots can be boiled like potatoes, and the flower buds can be breaded and fried or stuffed similarly to squash blossoms.
Daylilies can tolerate partial shade but may not bloom as much. Plant them in a full-sun location to get the most abundant blooms. They do best in USDA growing zones 2-11.
Water newly planted daylilies every few days to help them get established. After a few weeks, you’ll be able to water them once per week. After their first growing season, they will be well established and become drought tolerant.
Be sure to plant them in well-drained soil to avoid issues with root rot. After the flower has bloomed, you can remove the spent flower stalk to encourage more flowers, though this is not completely necessary. The foliage will die back at the end of the growing season and can be left in place until spring. Remove spent foliage once new growth begins to emerge in the spring.
This low-growing sedum makes a great succulent ground cover that spreads quickly, filling in gaps in your low-maintenance perennial garden. Although it can spread vigorously, it is not considered invasive since it has a shallow root system and is easy to remove and control. This easy-to-grow perennial is a hardy succulent that can survive various growing conditions and needs little active care.
Stonecrop produces yellow or pink star-like flowers in late spring into early summer. The flowers are rich in sweet nectar and attract bees, butterflies, and moths. More recently, stonecrop is making an appearance as a skin care additive. Much like aloe, these succulents are experts at retaining moisture. These properties also mean they can provide moisture to your skin as well.
Stonecrop does best in partial shade to full sun, but creeping types will also tolerate almost complete shade areas. Flowering types prefer full sun to produce the most blooms but can be planted in part shade, though they may flower a bit less.
This plant is best suited for USDA zones 4-9. As with most succulents, stonecrop is very drought tolerant, and even in the hottest, driest part of the summer, they only need water once every 7-10 days. Provide your stonecrop with well-drained soil. Overly moist or waterlogged conditions can cause their shallow root system to rot.
Lilacs are known for their intoxicating scent that signals the height of spring. They have a very short bloom time, but more recently, lilacs are also being prized for their edibility!
Prolong your enjoyment of these blooms with delicious baked goods, simple syrups, or dried flowers for tea. This deciduous shrub is a member of the olive family and is native to the Mediterranean.
This low-maintenance perennial in the Syringa genus requires little supplemental care other than regular pruning to remove dead or damaged branches. Lilac shrubs grow quickly and can grow quite large, which makes them great for planting along a fence line, property line, or creating a windbreak near the garden. Lilacs are often the relics of old homesteads.
Since they can live to be 100 years old, they are often left standing long after the farmstead is no longer around. A century ago, it was popular to plant one on either side of a home to frame the entranceway.
If you’re driving along a country road and see two lilac bushes seemingly in the middle of an otherwise empty field, then there may have been a home or farm there sometime within the last century, and they’ve since survived on their own with no outside care.
Lilacs prefer full sun for optimal blooms. Most lilacs are suited for USDA growing zones 3-8. However, a few varieties are cold hardy to zone 2, and some are heat tolerant to zone 9.
Lilacs need water about once every 10-14 days during the growing season. They prefer deep and infrequent watering and do not like wet feet or standing water. For this reason, be sure to provide them with well-drained soil. Established plants are extremely drought tolerant.
Yarrow can be identified by its tiny umbel flowers that attract many beneficial insects, like predatory wasps, to your garden. The flowers come in a wide range of colors. The most popular colors are red, white, yellow, purple, and pink. Yarrow is native to Europe and Asia but has since been naturalized in North America. Yarrow can be considered invasive in some areas because it spreads easily.
Legend has it that yarrow (Achillea millefolium) was named after Achilles. The Greek mythical hero was reputed to have used it to slow bleeding in his soldiers’ wounds. Native Americans also made use of yarrow in traditional medicines.
It is very low maintenance and thrives on neglect. Yarrow prefers a site with full sun. In the shade, the flowers may become tall, lanky, and flop over. This perennial does best in USDA growing zones 3-9. Yarrow is extremely drought tolerant, and established plants only require water once a month to thrive.
For this reason, it can easily survive with natural rainfall and rarely needs supplemental irrigation, making it the perfect choice for a water-wise native garden. Provide your yarrow with well-drained soil, as it does not like to be constantly wet.
Also known as Echinacea, coneflowers are tough perennials in the daisy family. They can be identified by their cone-like shape and dark brown pincushion center. Most Echinacea species are native to the eastern and central United States, where they can be found in dry prairies and open wooded areas.
These perennial flowers will return year after year and spread when allowed to go to seed at the end of the season. They attract many different pollinators and make a wonderful addition to a pollinator garden, wildflower garden, or native meadow.
Coneflowers prefer full to partial shade. Since they are often found on the edges of woodlands, they can do quite well in part shade. They need at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. They can be grown reliably in USDA zones 5-8.
Coneflowers can tolerate drought but do best when they receive at least 1 inch of water per week. They do prefer to dry out between waterings. Provide coneflowers with well-drained soil so that they can dry out between waterings.
Also known as plantain lilies, hostas are shade-loving perennials. Hostas are named after their associated genus, and are mainly grown for their foliage. However, varieties like ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ produce flowers. Some hosta varieties spread via underground runners or rhizomes, while others grow in clumps that can be dug up and separated to spread around your garden.
The large fan-shaped foliage of most hostas can have a tropical appearance though they are quite hardy and can survive temperatures as low as -35 degrees! Hostas are native to China and Japan and were first imported to Europe in the late 1700s.
In the mid-1800s, they reached the United States. Hostas are also edible! The Japanese have eaten young hosta shoots for centuries. Known as urui, they can be boiled, fried in tempura, or eaten raw. If you have a problem with your hostas spreading too aggressively, consider digging some of them up and eating them!
Hostas thrive in full-shade areas. They can tolerate the morning sun but need shade during the hottest part of the day. They are best planted beneath trees where little will grow due to the lack of direct sunlight. Most hostas grow well in USDA zones 3-8, with some heat-tolerant varieties growing in zone 9.
Hostas are known for being quite thirsty and prefer a slow deep soaking of at least an inch of water per week. Burying an olla (or oya) near your hostas can keep them well-watered and as hands-off as possible.
These terra cotta pots are filled with water and slowly seep moisture into the surrounding soil as the soil dries out. Hostas prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Adding compost to the planting site can provide everything your hostas need.
Catmint (Nepeta × faassenii) is in the same family as common mint. While it is similar to catnip, it does not stimulate cats and will not attract them to your yard. It is identified by its gray-green foliage that resembles mint leaves. In summer, plants produce spires of delicate purple flowers.
This mini shrub can grow 1-3 feet tall and wide and will continue to spread if allowed to go to seed at the end of the growing season. This perennial plant is native to Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of China. It has since become naturalized in Northern Europe, New Zealand, and North America.
Catmint can be low-growing and act as a ground cover, which makes it great for border planting in a pollinator garden. This perennial is naturally resistant to deer and rabbits while also attracting birds, bees, and other pollinators. Their tiny tubular flowers are especially well-suited for attracting native bees and hummingbirds.
Catmint does best in full sun but tolerates partial afternoon shade, especially in hot climates. This plant is hardy and does best in USDA zone 3-8. Catmint will grow in just about any soil type if it’s well-draining. These plants are drought tolerant and virtually pest-and-disease-free, which makes them a great low-maintenance option for water-wise gardens.
Shasta Daisies are short-lived hardy perennials that generally last a few years. However, they spread via rhizomes, so new plants always replace older plants as they fade.
These white flowers that are in the daisy family do not require much attention once they are established. The beautiful flowers grow in clumps and attract plenty of butterflies to your garden. They also make a great cut flower that lasts over a week in the vase.
Shasta daisies are named for Mount Shasta, California, where they were developed in the 1800s by crossing the oxeye daisy with wild daisies. The result was Leucanthemum × superbum. Their white petals with a yellow eye in the center resemble the oxeye daisy, only larger. Shasta daisies are also edible; their flowers make a stunning garnish for salads and baked goods.
Shasta daisies do best in full sun to light shade. These daisies are best suited for USDA growing zones 4-9. Water your Shasta daisies at least once per week while they are getting established. After that, they can be drought tolerant and prefer to dry out between waterings.
It’s better to underwater than overwater them, especially because overwatering can lead to fungal issues. Choose a site with well-drained soil. Overly moist soil, specifically during the winter, can lead to crown rot, preventing your Shasta daisies from returning in the spring.
Blanket flowers are members of the genus, Gaillardia. These add a beautiful pop of color to your low-maintenance perennial flower garden. These flowers have a red center that radiates out through the petals, which are also red and then tipped with yellow. These flowers are short-lived perennials; however, they will reseed and sprawl throughout the garden for years to come.
Blanket flowers attract many beneficial bugs, including native bees, honey bees, and butterflies. Blanket flowers do not require deadheading to bloom profusely. However, if you deadhead the blooms as they fade, it will promote bushier and more compact growth to make the plant look fuller.
At the end of the season, the flowers will die back and go to seed. Let the plants self-seed naturally, or gather the dried seed heads and spread them more intentionally. Plants should be cut back in early spring just as new growth appears.
Like most flowers in the daisy family, blanket flowers prefer full sun. These flowers can be grown reliably in USDA growing zones 3-10. Many hybrid varieties are available, so you’re sure to find one suited to your specific climate.
Blanket flowers are drought-tolerant once established. They prefer well-drained soil and can stand to dry out between waterings. They are also particularly well suited to rocky or sandy soils, making them a great addition to rock gardens and xeriscaping.
The perennial Salvia flower differs slightly from edible sage, which is grown mainly for culinary uses. Ornamental sage is not grown for its foliage but rather for its tall spikes of purple flowers that are a magnet for bees. This amazing plant is native to both the United States and Mexico and can survive a wide variety of conditions. It has a short bush-like growth habit, which makes it great for borders.
Ornamental sage is not considered to be edible. It is not toxic, but it’s not something you would want to toss into your soup. Not only do the flowers attract beneficial insects to your garden, but they’re also a beautiful addition to cut flower bouquets. The purple flower stalks can also be dried and used in dried flower arrangements. The purple flowers stand out in contrast to the gray-green foliage.
Ornamental sage does best in full sun but can benefit from afternoon shade in areas with sweltering summers. This plant is perennial in USDA growing zones 4-10. Most varieties of ornamental sage are drought tolerant and need little to no supplemental water during the summer except for periods of extreme heat and drought. This sage does best in well-draining soil.
Some coreopsis varieties are annuals; however, perennial varieties are also available. Coreopsis is also known as tickseed, which has led to the myth that this plant attracts ticks. The nickname, however, comes from seeds resembling small brown ticks.
The only insects that these yellow flowers attract are beneficial pollinators. Some varieties of Coreopsis will spread via rhizomes, and all varieties will spread by self-seeding.
These yellow flowers have a long bloom period through mid-summer and will bloom profusely without much maintenance or care. These low-maintenance flowers also have few, if any, pest and disease issues. Coreopsis is native to North America and can be found in fields and meadows throughout Northern Canada, the United States, and Southern Mexico.
Coreopsis prefers full sun but can also be grown in part shade, though it may not bloom as profusely. They will easily tolerate hot sun with high temperatures.
Coreopsis does best in USDA zones 3-8. These flowers are drought tolerant but will bloom more often with regular watering. Consider watering once weekly for the best blooms. These flowers will tolerate poor soil conditions, including rocky soil. The most important factor is that the soil is well-draining.
Milkweed has quickly gained popularity since it has been widely publicized as the host plant for the endangered monarch butterfly. Multiple types of milkweed are native to different areas across the United States. These fascinating members of the Asclepias species are some of the best butterfly garden plants.
A quick internet search can tell you which type is native to your area and whether or not you live in a monarch butterfly migratory path. Milkweed is toxic, so be sure to plant this perennial in an area of your garden that is not accessible to small children or pets.
The fact that milkweed is toxic is advantageous for the monarch caterpillars, which eat the milkweed and, in turn, become toxic themselves, thus discouraging birds and other animals from eating them.
The monarch butterfly retains this trait and is also toxic if consumed by a bird or other animal. Plant milkweed in your garden, and you may be rewarded with witnessing the life cycle of the beautiful monarch butterfly!
Depending on the variety, the flowers come in pink, yellow, orange, and red. Most of them spread via underground rhizomes, so if you plant milkweed, you’ll soon have a respectable patch that comes back year after year with little to no outside effort or care.
Milkweed prefers full sun but will grow in partial shade areas, though it may grow tall and floppy if it doesn’t receive enough sun. It does best in USDA zones 4-9.
Milkweed will tolerate dry conditions and can dry out between waterings. It can also be grown in pots. Container-grown milkweed may need water more often. Milkweed can tolerate a variety of soil conditions, even slightly acidic soil.
Phlox is a native herbaceous perennial that produces delicate blue flowers in late spring into early summer. These plants can grow 12-15 inches tall and form a mat of foliage. It is known botanically as Phlox divaricata, and is also sometimes referred to as wild sweet William or woodland phlox. It is native to North America and semi-evergreen. In its native habitat, it is often found in dry woodland areas.
The delicate lavender-blue tubular-shaped flowers are excellent at attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. Although this flower can spread and form dense colonies, it is not considered invasive. The flowers are fragrant and one of the few perennials that do well in the shade. This makes it an excellent option for filling in areas where little else will grow. It is also deer resistant.
As mentioned above, phlox prefers part shade to full shade. It is hardy in USDA growing zones 3-8. Phlox prefers to remain evenly moist but not waterlogged.
Amending your planting site with compost and applying a layer of mulch will help retain moisture and reduce the need for watering. Provide this plant with well-drained soil to keep it happy and blooming. Once established, they will become drought tolerant and will handle drying out between waterings.
Forsythia is a genus of plants that are the lesser-known cousins of lilacs. Like lilacs, they are also in the olive family. They are both deciduous shrubs with short bloom times during the early spring. The flowers are similar in shape to lilacs, but forsythia blooms are bright yellow.
There are about 11 species that are native to East Asia. It is deer resistant and resistant to most pests and diseases, making it a very low-maintenance addition to your landscape.
The most popular bit of lore surrounding forsythias is that there will be three falls of snow after forsythia blooms. This is because of how early in the spring it blooms; there is still a chance of snow when it first goes into flower.
For this reason, their blooms often signify the approaching spring and the end of winter. Just like lilacs, these flowers are also edible and are said to have a scent like sweet honey-almond.
Forsythia does best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It needs at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. Forsythia grows best in USDA zones 4-9. This shrub survives on as little as 1 inch of water per week during the hottest part of the summer. It can tolerate the soil drying out between waterings and prefers to be planted in well-drained soil.
The peony is a low-maintenance perennial that certainly thrives on neglect, although it is an investment in the future. Peonies rarely bloom in the first year after planting.
Sometimes it takes up to 3 years for members of the Paeonia species to bloom, but once they are established, they will get bigger and bigger, with more blooms every year. These perennial flowers are often planted from tubers. These long-lived perennials can bloom for up to 100 years.
Peonies also have a wonderful symbiotic relationship with ants. Peony flower buds produce a sugary sap that attracts the ants. The ants feed on the sap and, in exchange, keep away other floral-feeding insects that would damage the blooms.
Peonies need to be cut back to the ground in the winter and provided with some defense, like mulch, to protect them from extreme cold.
Peonies require full sun to thrive. They are hardy and can survive in USDA zones 3-8. They do best in areas with a pronounced area of winter chill to produce the best blooms.
Newly planted peonies require 1 inch of water at least once a week. Once established, they will thrive on a watering every 10 days or so. Be sure to plant your peonies in well-drained soil. They can even handle slightly acidic soil.
Also known as Rudbeckia, black-eyed Susan are easily identified by their bright yellow petals and a black eye in the center. They are in the daisy family and native to eastern and central North America. These perennials not only come back every year, but they will continue to spread by self-seeding. You can also collect the seeds and scatter them in the fall. Remember that these seeds need light to germinate, so it’s best not to cover them with soil.
Black-Eyed Susan is often called a pioneer plant, meaning it is among the first plants to grow in an area damaged by fire or other natural disaster. In addition to attracting a wide range of pollinators, these perennial flowers are also the host plant to the Silvery Checkerspot butterfly caterpillar. Birds also love the seeds they produce in the fall, especially American Goldfinches.
Black-Eyed Susan requires full sun to produce the best blooms. They thrive in USDA growing zones 3-9. These flowers will require water at least once a week until they get established. More mature plants can survive periods of drought, though they do not like completely dry soil for too long.
At the same time, be careful not to overwater, as this can cause fungal issues. They can be cut back in the fall or left standing as a wintertime seed supply for non-migratory birds and then cut back in the spring just as new growth appears.
This genus of perennial flowers are in the mallow family and are related to the above-mentioned Hollyhocks. Hibiscus is loved for its tropical appearance. However, these flowers are quite cold-hardy. They will go dormant in the winter and come back to life each spring.
Hibiscus can be grown both in the ground and in containers. Some gardeners find it easier to care for them in containers since they can move them around to find the best area in your garden to meet their needs.
Hibiscus flowers are beautiful but are short-lived. Just like daylilies, each flower generally only lasts for one day. Hibiscus has been the national flower of Malaysia since 1960. Not only does the island nation of Malaysia love this flower, but bees and hummingbirds love it too! Traditional varieties of hibiscus can live for up to 50 years.
Hibiscus prefers full sun conditions but will tolerate light shade. They do need warm temperatures to bloom but can survive temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit during their dormant period in the winter. They can reliably be grown in USDA zones 5-9. If you live in a colder climate, you can overwinter a hibiscus indoors.
This is another benefit of growing them in containers. In-ground, hibiscus needs to be watered every few days. Container-grown hibiscus may need to be watered more often. Hibiscus can tolerate neutral soil but grows best in slightly acidic soil. This is yet another reason why growing it in containers is ideal. It’s much easier to control the soil conditions this way.
Blue flax is a short-lived perennial that can last around 3 years. However, it will spread via self-seeding and create a lovely patch of flax in your garden.
Yes, it is the same flax that you find in health food stores sold as flaxseed oil supplements! As the flowers die back, they will produce small round seed pods containing a few flax seeds. Break them open at the end of the season to help your flax spread.
Flax seeds have been used for food, food supplements, and oil. The plant fibers can be used to make clothing and rope, and the blue flowers can be used as a dye. The flowers are edible and make a beautiful garnish. The flowers of Linum lewisii are native to Western North America ranging from Alaska to the Baja peninsula. They can often be found growing in patches in meadows and along roadsides.
Blue flax is easy to grow, bee-friendly, and will spread over time. For the best results, plant your flax in full sun. Blue flax thrives in USDA growing zones 3-8. Blue flax flowers appreciate evenly moist soil while getting established.
Mature plants will tolerate drought and rarely need supplemental water unless you live in an especially hot and dry region. Flax does best in well-drained soil, has excellent cold tolerance, and survives winter drought.
The chocolate daisy, also known as the chocolate flower or lyre leaf green eyes, is a perennial flower that thrives on neglect. Chocolate daisy (Berlandiera lyrata) is a member of the daisy family, and their flowers really smell like chocolate when they bloom!
They’re native to the southwestern United States and Mexico and are generally found in open plains, grasslands, and along roadsides. This flower will produce beautiful yellow blooms all summer long. At the end of the season, it will go to seed, and birds love to feast on the seeds. It can easily spread by self-seeding though it is not invasive.
Not only do these flowers have a wonderful scent that humans enjoy, but they also attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. This plant is edible. The flowers will grow 1-2 feet tall and wide and will spread throughout your garden if allowed to go to seed at the end of the season.
These flowers prefer full sun conditions. They thrive in USDA zones 4-9. Chocolate flowers are very heat and drought-tolerant and can survive without supplemental irrigation once established. They can grow in a wide range of dry, sandy, and rocky soils. They require well-draining soil as they don’t like constantly wet.
These blue bell-shaped Mertensia virginica flowers are quite low-maintenance. These flowers are usually planted as bulbs or rhizomes and bloom in early spring. Bluebells are native to the woodlands of Eastern North America and Canada. They can spread throughout an area via underground rhizomes.
Virginia bluebells grow very slowly from seed, taking 5 years from seed to get established. For this reason, it’s best to start with bulbs or rhizomes. These tubular-shaped flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and moths while also being resistant to deer and rabbits. Bluebells bloom in clusters along a main stem, with the oldest flower attached to the main stem.
Bluebells are woodland plants, and for this reason, they grow best in partial shade. They do well in USDA growing zones 5-8. Bluebell bulbs require consistent moisture during their first year of growth. Once established, they can survive on natural rainfall in most areas. Well-draining soil rich in organic matter and mulch around the base of each plant can help retain moisture.
Snapdragons are tender perennials that produce beautiful flowers shaped like a dragon’s head. They’re almost exclusively pollinated by bumble bees as they’re one of the few pollinators strong enough to wiggle between the “jaws” of the snapdragon to reach the pollen inside.
These Antirrhinum genus flowers prefer temperatures in the 70s during the day and in the 40s overnight for optimal blooming, so they generally bloom early in the spring.
Snapdragons come in a wide variety of colors. While they are only perennial in warmer climates, many gardeners grow them as annuals in colder climates. Even in areas where they are perennial, they are short-lived. However, they can also spread by seed.
After the blooms fade, they leave behind a skull-shaped seed pod that holds many tiny black seeds even smaller than poppy seeds. Spread these seeds at the end of the season to encourage your snapdragon patch to grow year after year.
Snapdragons prefer full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. They are perennials in USDA growing zones 7-11 but can be grown as annuals in other zones.
Keep snapdragon seedlings well watered. Once the plants have reached maturity, they will only require water once a week in periods without rainfall. Snapdragons prefer rocky soil, which makes them a great addition to rock gardens.
The Macedonian scabious perennial produces beautiful maroon pincushion-shaped flowers. This plant is very hardy and thrives on neglect. This is a great flower to mix into your garden to ensure some flowers bloom later in the season. Knauti generally flowers from July into September. You can deadhead the flowers as they fade to prolong blooming, but this is unnecessary.
This upright, clump-forming perennial attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. Other small birds love to snack on the seeds when the dried seed heads are left standing throughout the winter. They are also deer resistant and make a great cut flower!
This is a perfect starter perennial for beginner gardeners because it is easy to care for and suffers from very few pests and diseases.
Knautia needs full sun to get the most blooms. Knautia is hardy and can survive winters in USDA zones 5-9 with no protection from the cold. Keep your plants watered regularly until established; then, they will become quite drought-tolerant. They do require well-drained soil.
Also known as wild pansy, Johnny jump-ups are perennials in most growing zones. In colder and hotter climates where they are grown as annuals, they can still come back from self-seeding each year. Johnny jump-ups resemble pansies but with much smaller flowers. They are also much more heat resistant.
Johnny jump-ups (Viola tricolor) are edible and are said to have a mild wintergreen flavor. They make a beautiful garnish for spring salads and baked goods or frozen into ice cubes for floral cocktails. Since they are small and low-growing, they make a great ground cover around larger plants. They bloom around the same time as many springtime bulbs like tulips and irises.
Johnny jumps ups do best in full sun, but they will tolerate part shade. In warmer climates, they will benefit from afternoon shade.
In cooler climates, they may grow taller and lankier in partial shade conditions. These flowers are perennial in USDA growing zones 3-9. They require watering 1-2 times per week and prefer well-drained soil.
Striped squill (Puschkinia scilloides) is native to Western Asia and the Caucasus mountains. They can be found growing wild in mountain meadows and stony slopes. Striped squill can be grown from seed, but it is often planted from bulbs. It produces delicate white flowers with blue stripes and is a favorite of bees.
Striped Squill blooms very early in the spring when not much else is blooming. It blooms so early in the spring that it may still snow, but the snow will not slow down these flowers.
Striped squill is actually in the same family as asparagus! However, it is highly toxic and is not considered to be edible. Ensure that this plant is grown in an area that is not easily accessible to small children and pets. This low-growing perennial will grow 6-8 inches tall and does well filling in borders and around other larger plants.
The striped squill needs to be planted in a full-sun location. It does well in USDA growing zones 3-9. This flower needs water only once a week. Striped squill bulbs are small and must be planted 3-4 inches deep in loose, well-draining soil.
Also referred to as beardtongues, members of the Penstemon genus are a favorite of hummingbirds. Their long tubular flowers attract many nectar-loving pollinators like butterflies and hawk moths.
There are over 280 species of penstemon worldwide. With an almost endless variety of these low-care wildflowers, you will surely find a penstemon that suits your garden. These perennial plants will also spread by self-seeding year after year.
Penstemon is very drought tolerant, making it a great flower for xeric landscapes. Its bloom period is from late spring to early summer. Penstemon can thrive on neglect for several years. Although it is a relatively short-lived perennial, new plants will surely replace older plants as they drop their seeds and spread.
Penstemon does best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. It is well suited for USDA growing zones 4-9. A native to lowland deserts, penstemon is drought tolerant once established and rarely needs irrigation outside of natural rainfall, although they will not tolerate prolonged drought. Penstemon prefers well-draining “lean” soil, meaning you do not have to amend the planting site with any compost or organic matter before transplanting.
Most of these perennials thrive on neglect since they don’t need extensive pruning, watering, or deadheading and can survive in various soil types.
Perennials add so much to the landscape by adding reliable blooms that return year after year and often get bigger and bigger season after season. When planning your garden, set aside some space for a few of these flowering perennials that thrive on neglect. You’ll be happy you did when you get to enjoy their blooms throughout the season with little effort.