It’s a common dilemma … you love the looks of a flourishing garden, but don’t have a lot of time or energy to put into keeping it up. You’re too busy with the demands of job, caretaking, and just plain living. The good news is that gardening can be a lot simpler than you think. It’s mainly a question of choosing the right type of plants. Here are 9 shrubs, flowers, and vegetables that will require minimal care.
Shrubs – Busy people tend to be impatient people, so you may wonder why we mention shrubs. Truth be told, you can find some very fast-growing varieties. Buy small potted shrubs from your local nursery – or online – to transplant at home. Then the bulk of your work is already done. These plants need little watering once they’re established in their new location, and they deliver so much! In addition to good looks, they double as a green privacy fence. A hedge will also shelter your house from the elements, reducing your need for heating and cooling.
Vines – Vines are another choice which will provide you with both privacy and beauty. Species such as ivy or clematis grow rapidly and need very little upkeep. They do need something to climb on, but that can actually be one of their virtues, especially if you’re looking to disguise an unattractive chain link fence or brick wall.
Succulents – Succulents are beloved of busy indoor gardeners, due to their appealing appearance, low maintenance, and limited need for water. Now try them outside as well. If you live in Hardiness Zone 8 or warmer, you can overwinter succulents in your garden. Otherwise, plant them in containers which you can easily bring into the house before the first frost comes along.
Bulbs – Plant bulbs in the fall and fugeddabout ‘em. Then get ready to enjoy the sweet surprise of blooms early next spring. Daffodils, tulips, iris, or my personal fave, delightfully scented hyacinth, are generous plants which take very little care, yet put on a great colorful show. One note: Bulbs used to be replantable but newer varieties should be treated as annuals. Even if they do sprout for another year, they are likely to produce frail and scraggly results.
Perennials (Day Lilies) – If you’re looking for a hardy perennial, the day lily is for you. Unlike true lilies, day lilies grow from roots rather than bulbs. Available in a wide range of charming colors – as well as the traditional orange -- they thrive almost anywhere in the US (Zones 3-11). Wet soil, dry soil, even the salty soil in your beach house garden … not much fazes the vibrant day lily. Another plus: Many varieties are a favorite perch for hummingbirds and butterflies.
Annuals (Marigolds) – Growing marigolds is child’s play … literally. These bright and cheerful quick-growing annuals are a perfect choice for your kids’ early experiments in gardening. Marigolds offer bright yellow, copper, and russet blossoms, and can reach a height of anywhere from 6 inches to an impressive 5 feet tall in a single season.
Herbs -- Whether you have substantial yard space or 2 or 3 little pots perched on your balcony rail, herbs are simple to grow, yet very rewarding. Snip a few leaves to add zest to that super speedy 15-minute dinner recipe. You’ll save time (and money) on shopping for seasonings, and your homegrown herbs are guaranteed organic.
Garlic – Garlic is a snap to grow. You don’t even need to shop for seeds. Just break off a few healthy, good-sized cloves and pop them in the ground. Cut the scapes (garlic shoots) in the spring to steam as a delicately flavored vegetable, and leave the garlic bulbs to pick in July and August.
Zucchini – Zucchini has a well-deserved rep as the easiest vegetable ever. In fact, your main problem will be figuring out what to do with your bumper harvest. Maybe send out invites for a zucchini-picking block party?
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.