Brown seedheads of Korean feather reed grass

Low-maintenance plants

Our pick of the best low-maintenance plants that require minimal care while looking good.

Short on gardening time? You can still have a beautiful garden, if you choose your plants wisely. The trick is to grow plants that pretty much take care of themselves. This means avoiding tender plants like cannas and eucomis. Because they’re sensitive to cold weather, they need lifting and protecting in winter, then planting again in spring, which can involve a lot of work. Also to be avoided are plants that need lots of deadheading to keep them looking good, like dahlias, monardas and roses.

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If you’re away a lot, consider avoiding pots and containers – in hot weather, they’ll dry out quickly and need watering at least once a day. Or grow drought-tolerant plants in them, instead.

Lastly, fast-growing plants, particularly vigorous climbers, require training and pruning them. Wisteria, for example, is particularly vigorous once established and requires pruning twice a year.

More on saving time in the garden:

We’ve picked some of our top low-maintenance plants to grow for time-poor gardeners, below.


Hardy geraniums

Delicately-veined mauve blooms of hardy geranium 'Ballerina'
Delicately-veined mauve blooms of hardy geranium ‘Ballerina’

Hardy geraniums are almost indestructible plants, with the potential to flower for months on end. No deadheading is needed – instead cut right back to the ground after the first flush of flowers. This will encourage a second flush of foliage and flowers to form, with little effort.


Bulbs

White bells of snowflake Leucojum ‘Gravetye Giant’
White bells of snowflake Leucojum ‘Gravetye Giant’

Compared to the digging involved in planting potted shrubs and perennials, bulbs are easy. There are loads to grow, for flowers to fill the best part of a year. As well as spring-flowering crocus, daffodils and snowdrops, grow summer-flowering alliums and lilies. You can extend the season further by planting autumn crocus and nerines for a splash of colour before winter.


Strawberries

Strawberries growing in a painted wooden planter
Strawberries growing in a painted wooden planter

Fruit and veg plants are often considered too laborious to grow and for some this is true, but fruits like strawberries just need a little tidy up in spring. Find more low-maintenance fruit and veg crops to grow.


Wildflowers

Wildflowers including cornflowers and white achilleas
Wildflowers including cornflowers and white achilleas

For the most part, wildflowers are grown for the purpose of looking just that – wild – so there’s no need to tidy and deadhead as much as you would with ornamental flowers. A wildflower seed mix scattered over some bare soil will soon erupt into a colourful display. Find inspiration with these 10 UK native wildflowers to grow.


Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’

Wallflower 'Bowles's Mauve'
Wallflower ‘Bowles’s Mauve’

Perennial wallflower is renowned for its undemanding habit. Once planted, it bears spires of purple flowers over a long season – sometimes right through the year in southern regions. Grow Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ in full sun to partial shade, in moist, well-drained soil.


Holly

Golden-edged holly leaves
Golden-edged holly leaves

Need a low-maintenance hedge? Consider slower growing evergreens like holly and yew. Plus, you’ll never be short of decorative sprigs to snip and use around the house at Christmas. Discover 10 hollies to grow.


Hardy exotics

Spiky Yucca rostrata
Spiky Yucca rostrata

There’s a host of evergreen, hardy exotics – like Yucca rostrata, Brahea armata and dasylirion species – that require very little maintenance. You barely need to prune them and there are few leaves so sweep up. Just make sure they’re planted in really well-drained soil. Find more plants for an exotic-style garden.


Bergenias

Pink flowers and large oval leaves of bergenia
Pink flowers and large oval leaves of bergenia

Bergenias are often grown as ground cover plants, so they’re great if you’re looking to cover patches of bare soil. The evergreen foliage provides year round colour and in spring they send up stalks bearing pretty pink flowers that attract bees.


Abelia

Small pink blooms of shrub abelia
Small pink blooms of shrub abelia

When picking low-maintenance shrubs for the garden, go for slow-growing shrubs that require little pruning, like abelias. These semi-evergreen shrubs produce scores of small, scented blooms in summer and autumn.


Sempervivums

Sempervivum 'Terracotta Baby'
Sempervivum ‘Terracotta Baby’

Sempervivums are easy to grow hardy succulents. They do need to be grown in the right conditions, though – full sun and a nice gritty compost. As they’re evergreen, you’ll get colour from them throughout the year.


Ornamental grasses

Brown seedheads of Korean feather reed grass
Brown seedheads of Korean feather reed grass

Ornamental grasses are an easy win, bringing with them a host of benefits, including pest and disease resistance. For year round colour, try evergreen ornamentals like Nassella tenuissima and Stipa gigantea.


Low-maintenance evergreens to grow

Orange/bronze blooms of Helianthemum 'Southmead'
Orange/bronze blooms of Helianthemum ‘Southmead’
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