x
Erysimum ‘Bowles's Mauve’
We can design our gardens to need as much or little care as we like. There are plenty of good looking, low-maintenance plants that require less time and attention.
  • Growing low maintenance plants allows you to just enjoy the beauty of nature, with less need to intervene
  • Low maintenance plants can make a garden easier and more enjoyable to maintain. This may be especially helpful if you have limited mobility or low energy
  • Some plants can be good for the environment, for example those that need less water. Growing them can support the ecosystem
A climbing hydrangea in flower
A climbing hydrangea in flower

Plants can be low maintenance for different reasons. These are some general tips, when planning easy care planting:

  1. Choose plants that suit the conditions in your garden, rather than trying to alter conditions to suit the plant.
  2. You could replace annuals (plants that will not grow again the next year) with perennials. This will mean less gaps to fill in the garden each year.
  3. Plant low maintenance perennials or shrubs at the back of flower borders. You won't need to get to them very often.
  4. If you would like to spend less time watering, choose drought-tolerant plants.
  5. Reduce the need for weeding by planting ground cover plants. These low growing plants gradually spread over time.
  6. Replace fast growing hedge species which require regular clipping (e.g. Lawson cypress) with slower growing species such as beech and hornbeam. You could also replace hedges with fences, although hedges can be wonderful for wildlife.
  7. Some climbing plants, like clematis and honeysuckle, need support and tying as they grow. You could replace these with self-clinging plants, like a climbing hydrangea
  8. Choose shrubs that need little or no pruning and are less prone to pests and diseases

Below are some recommended low maintenance plants. There are plenty more to be found. Read plant labels or ask for advice at the garden centre if you would like extra help with your low maintenance plants.

Shrubs can be an important part of the garden, giving something interesting to look at all through the year. Some low maintenance shrubs need little to no pruning.

Forsythia

Forsythia
The yellow flowers of a forsythia

The easy-going shrub, forsythia, is one of the first pops of colour you’ll see in the garden in spring.

If you’ve got the space, you can just let it grow and it will create an impressive feature. You can also clip it back into hedging if you prefer a trim, tidy and trained approach.

Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata)

The pretty white flowers of choisya ternata
The pretty white flowers of choisya ternata

If you love richly scented plants, try smelling the citrus fragrance from the white flowers of Mexican orange blossom.

This is an evergreen shrub that can grow to 2.5 metres high. It is low maintenance as it will usually grow happily even in tricky growing conditions and likes sunny or partly shady spots.

Fatsia japonica

Fatsia japonica wikimedia commons
The large green leaf of a fatsia

If you have a shady or partly shady spot in the garden and like tropical-looking plants, fatsia japonica is a great choice. They can grow quite tall, but they are tough and need very little caring for. You can prune them if you like, but no special technique is needed. They are also evergreen, so you can enjoy their unusual-shaped leaves all year around.

Sacred bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Sacred bamboo red foliage Pixabay
Sacred bamboo red foliage

Despite the name, this is not actually a bamboo! It has red berries for the birds and superb foliage colour with bright red tips.

Perennial flowers bring colour and joy to the garden year after year. Some are easier to grow than others, flower for longer or cover the ground, meaning you need to weed less.

Wallflower (Erysimum 'Bowles’s Mauve')

Purple flowers of Erysimum Bowles's Mauve
Purple flowers of Erysimum Bowles's Mauve

For a plant that flowers for months, copes with most soils and attracts bees, it’s hard to beat Erysimum ‘Bowles's Mauve’.

This perennial wallflower can grow in sun or partial shade. It produces spikes of flowers that will brighten your border.

Bearded iris (Iris germanica)

A bearded iris with deep purple flowers
A bearded iris with deep purple flowers

There’s a bearded iris for any garden. These perennials come in a vast array of colours and can be grown in containers as well as flower borders.

You can expect flowers from around April to June. They look particularly lovely with a number of them planted together.

Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'

Purple spires of Salvia Caradonna
Purple spires of Salvia Caradonna

Once Salvia 'Caradonna' gets going in your garden, you can enjoy striking violet flowers from late spring into summer.

This is a clump-forming sage that likes to grow in a sheltered, sunny position. It will survive pretty well even in drought conditions. All you need to do to keep the flowers coming is deadhead the flower spikes.

Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina)

Lambs ear
The soft leaves of lamb's ear

Lamb’s ear is a favourite in Thrive’s gardens. Once you touch the silvery-white leaves, it’s easy to understand why! The velvety texture invites a response and people can’t resist stroking them.

As well as the sensory appeal, lamb's ear is good for ground cover, reducing weeds. It can grow in sun or part-shade and bees love the pink flowers.

Periwinkle (Vinca minor)

Purple periwinkle flowers
Purple periwinkle flowers

If you are looking for a pretty ground cover plant, periwinkle or Vinca minor is a good option. It spreads in time, making an evergreen mat of leaves with pretty purple flowers from spring into summer. It will survive cold winters, grows in almost any position and is drought tolerant. It will even grow over a bank or sloping area of the garden if you have one.

Sedum spectabile

Sedum
The red-brown heads of fading sedum flowers

Another tasty treat for butterflies and bees is the nectar rich sedum spectabile. This is a great choice for flowers in autumn. Enjoy watching the colours change from light green to a reddish pink. Once the plant has settled into your garden, preferably in a sunny spot, it doesn’t need much watering. You can also leave the faded flower heads over winter as they give something lovely to look at in the colder months.

If you are new to growing plants, you may want to try some with a high success rate. These plants usually cope with most conditions – including a little bit of neglect!

Sunflowers

A bright yellow sunflower in bloom
A bright yellow sunflower in bloom

There's something about the sight of a sunflower that makes you smile. They are also a great choice when you are starting out in the garden - or, if you're a seasoned expert! They grow quickly, some varieties soaring above head height. They also attract pollinators, giving us even more to enjoy looking at.

Once they’re done, you can harvest the seeds to grow more plants next year. Or, you could leave the seeds in place for birds to enjoy.

Marigold

Marigold orange flower
Cheerful orange-yellow marigolds

This is a popular, much-loved annual. It enjoys a sunny spot in the garden, but otherwise will flower with little fuss. This is a great flower for pots and containers. Some people grow marigolds near their vegetables to help deter pests.

Daffodils

Daffodils
Yellow daffodils with trumpet like flowers

To grow daffodils, simply plant bulbs in any partly or fully shady spot in your garden in autumn. That could be in pots, containers, flower borders or even in the lawn. Then, watch and wait for late winter / early spring when they bloom. They are always one of the most welcome signs of the new year!

A pea flower
A pea flower

A low maintenance garden can include food produce. Some good low-key options include:

  • Herbs. These can be grown almost anywhere, including on a windowsill. Parsley, thyme and chives look fantastic and you get to enjoy the flavours in your home-cooked dishes
  • Peas. These are a fuss-free crop. Peas produce pretty flowers as well as the crop. If you have a small garden, climbing peas will grow up fences or even sprawl through hedges
  • Strawberries. You can get several years of fruit from a strawberry plant. Tidy them a bit in spring and they will be fine
  • Potatoes in compost bags / grow bags. Potatoes in the ground need lots of room, but they are surprisingly simple if you grow them in a big compost bag

Grow these crops to get the feel-good factor in your garden with a fuss-free approach.

Help us continue to make gardening accessible for all. Make a donation to Thrive today. Thank you.

Make a donation

Sign up to receive gardening inspiration and tips to get the most out of your own gardening space, and improve your health and wellbeing at the same time

Thrive Prize Draw 2024

Make a difference with us! Join this year's prize draw for a chance to win some amazing garden prizes

Enter Now