"When you're looking at doing perennials for your outdoor space, whether you have a garden or you're going to do container gardening, however you plan to approach your garden, you really want to make sure that you're thinking about the environment that you have," says Palomares. "You want to take into consideration how much light you have in your space, whether you get a lot of sunlight or you're in a more shady environment. That's going to be really important to understand as you plan for the plant that you pick going into your garden." A light meter ($16) can help with that.
Next, you've got to think about soil and spacing. Figuring out if you want to place your perennials directly in the ground or in pots will help you figure out how many to buy. If your plant needs a special type of soil that's very different from what you have naturally, choosing to pot your perennials can be an easy solve.
"You also want to think about how big these perennials are going to get over time and the space that you have, and whether that's going to work in your favor," he says. "Because if you're talking about low-maintenance plants, you want to make sure your planning ahead so it's going to get the desired effect that you have."
Lastly, you want to consider when your plants will be in bloom. If you plant nothing but daffodils, they'll be super pretty until they start to wilt in May, leaving you with a bare garden for the rest of the year. Planning your garden with this in mind is called "staging," explains Palomares. Keep in mind that you can always supplement your perennials with annuals (plants you have to replant every year) if you need some added color that will last throughout the warmer months.
8 easy-care perennials that will come back year after year
“One of my favorites is the lavender plant. This is a great plant, it’s a fragrant plant,” says Palomares. “It has beautiful blooms as it comes up in the season. You can really find those in nice temperate climates throughout the United States. That one does require more sun, and you really do want that well-drained soil. You want to make sure you have the right environment for that.”
“Something like a daffodil, which is really one of those first signs of spring, if you plant those bulbs in the fall, those are a great plant that you’re going to see early on in the season, just as the seasons are about to turn away from winter to spring,” says Palomares. You can buy five and get five bulbs to get this gorgeous dandelion mix for $15.
Azaleas are a fantastic low-maintenance plant available in a variety of blooming colors, whether it’s a white, pink, red. “Sometimes you’ll see some yellow blooms on there as well,” says Palomares. “Azaleas thrive in a nice, cool, moist climate, and they bloom in late spring and early summer. And they bloom for quite some time, so I think that’s a really easy-to-care-for plant that gives you that great pop of color that you might be wanting. It’s also is one that you can also plant in a container. You might have to prune back slightly just to make sure that it stays within the right size. But that one also does very well, whether you do that in the ground or a container.”
“Tulips—a great, easy, low-maintenance bulb that, as long as you’re planting it at the right times, you’re going to get that really first pop of color, that first bloom in your garden, and then you progress into some of your other perennials,” says Palomares. Shop eight Amber Glow Tulip bulbs for $13 and plant them in the fall.
“Peonies, again, those are just those really big just gorgeous floral blooms that you’re going to get out of your perennials plants, and they come in great colors—white, red, coral, purple,” says Palomares. “These are plants that are going to go dormant in the wintertime, but when you plant them they’re going to thrive. They can grow to be five feet tall, so these are one of those you want to plan ahead for. You want to make sure you have that space to support the peonies.” Peonies thrive in areas with cold winters so be sure to take that into consideration. Shop this 5-pack of peony bulbs and plant them after the first frost.
“Other favorites are the black-eyed Susans, which is this really bright, happy plant,” says Palomares. “It’s really one of those things that attract all of those pollinating insects, bees and butterflies, and all of those great things.” Shop this three-pack of 2.5 quart yellow black-eyed Susan plants.
“Hostas are probably one of the easiest perennials that you could handle. They love partial shade, so that’s perfect for those areas if you’re more north-facing and don’t get a lot of sun in your backyard,” says Palomares. “They can get very large in size, provided you have the right space and care for them. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Hostas are a great perennial. Even if you do have full sun, there’s always kind of that spot in your garden that doesn’t get quite all of the sun—this is one of those great plants for that space. And they will spread. So you’re putting them into the ground, this is one that has that opportunity to give you additional plants year over year as that root system continues to grow.” Shop this pack of four hosta plants.
The most pet-friendly plants, according to a plant doctor:
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