Top Low Maintenance Perennials with Beautiful Flowers

Updated on April 23, 2016
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Kathy is an avid gardener who loves to grow perennials and vegetables in her zone 5 Ontario gardens.

Low maintenance perennials with beautiful flowers include coneflowers, hydrangea, irises, peonies and day lilies..
Low maintenance perennials with beautiful flowers include coneflowers, hydrangea, irises, peonies and day lilies.. | Source

My favourite easy-to-grow perennial flowers

Since replacing our front lawn with a perennial garden about six years ago, I've experimented with a wide variety of perennial groundcovers and flowers to see what would grow well without requiring a great deal of maintenance.

High maintenance plants that require constant watering, pruning or coddling do not make the grade. If a plant thrives under a variety of conditions and can tolerate some neglect on my part, then that plant earns a spot of honour in the garden. If it also beautiful flowers and happens to spread from year to year to provide me with plants to fill out other areas of my gardens, then I know I have a real winner.

Below you will find information on the flowering plants which have thrived in my zone 5b garden in Ontario, with very little maintenance required - earning them the title of "Top Low Maintenance Perennials with Beautiful Flowers."

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Monarch butterflies love coneflowersPink echinacea flowersPink "Double Delight" coneflowerThis coneflower reminded me of a pinwheel!Pink coneflower
Monarch butterflies love coneflowers
Monarch butterflies love coneflowers | Source
Pink echinacea flowers
Pink echinacea flowers | Source
Pink "Double Delight" coneflower
Pink "Double Delight" coneflower | Source
This coneflower reminded me of a pinwheel!
This coneflower reminded me of a pinwheel! | Source
Pink coneflower
Pink coneflower | Source

Coneflowers

Coneflowers, or echinacea, are quickly becoming my favourite perennial plant. They have a long blooming period, from summer through fall and require virtually no maintenance. The clumps get bigger each year, with more flowers to fill your garden. The bees and butterflies love them, and the dried seedheads provide winter interest in the garden.

Purple coneflowers are native flowers in my region, and echinacea is widely known for its medicinal properties. In recent years, as the popularity of coneflowers in the perennial garden has increased, there have been many new colours and varieties of coneflowers introduced. Coneflowers are now available in many shades of pink, purple, magenta, peach, creamy white, yellow, orange and red.

They come in a range of heights, depending on the variety, with some types growing up to five feet tall.

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Pandora's Box dayliliesPale pink daylily with a greenish yellow throatOrange dayliliesPink and purple dayliliesPale yellow daylilies
Pandora's Box daylilies
Pandora's Box daylilies | Source
Pale pink daylily with a greenish yellow throat
Pale pink daylily with a greenish yellow throat | Source
Orange daylilies
Orange daylilies | Source
Pink and purple daylilies
Pink and purple daylilies | Source
Pale yellow daylilies
Pale yellow daylilies | Source

Daylilies

I've previously written about why daylilies are nearly the "perfect perennial" and my collection of daylilies continues to grow every year. They are very hardy plants, and will tolerate a variety of soil conditions. Most varieties prefer sun, but will also do quite well in shadier areas of the garden.

Daylilies come in almost every colour imaginable, with the exception of true blue and pure white. Although each flower only lasts for one day, an abundance of flower buds on each plant can ensure a steady display of flowers for many weeks. It is a good idea to plant a variety of different kinds of daylilies in your garden to extend the display of flowers, as each variety has slightly different blooming times and periods.

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White peonies in the garden.Pink Sarah Bernhardt peony flower.Two-tone pink peony.Soft pink peony flower.Peonies make beaufiful cut flower arrangements.
White peonies in the garden.
White peonies in the garden. | Source
Pink Sarah Bernhardt peony flower.
Pink Sarah Bernhardt peony flower. | Source
Two-tone pink peony.
Two-tone pink peony. | Source
Soft pink peony flower.
Soft pink peony flower. | Source
Peonies make beaufiful cut flower arrangements.
Peonies make beaufiful cut flower arrangements. | Source

Peonies

Peonies are perennial favourites in cottage gardens, and many of the best performing varieties have been around for close to a hundred years. The huge flower balls make excellent cut flowers, and most varieties have a wonderfully sweet scent. Peonies usually flower in June.

The colour range of peonies is more limited than some other perennials, with most varieties being shades of pink, white or wine. Plants can grow up to three feet high, and will last for many years if undisturbed. They do not like to be transplanted.

Don't panic if you see ants crawling all over your peony plants. Ants love the sweet sap of peonies, and will not do them any harm.

You may need to provide some support to your peony plant, as the large flower heads can weigh down the branches and make the plant look floppy. Peony rings are made for this purpose, but you can also make your own support with a few stakes and some string.

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Iris in my garden.Blue irises.Closeup of an iris flower
Iris in my garden.
Iris in my garden. | Source
Blue irises.
Blue irises. | Source
Source
Closeup of an iris flower
Closeup of an iris flower | Source
Source

Irises

Irises are one of the first flowers to start blooming in the spring garden. There are several different varieties of irises, including dwarf bearded iris, tall bearded iris and Siberian iris. I have both dwarf and tall bearded irises in my garden. The dwarf varieties are the first to bloom, usually blooming in April or May, followed by the tall varieties in June. Siberian irises bloom later in the summer, from June to July.

Irises come in a variety of colours and shades, many with a combination of two or more colours, including purple, mauve, pink, yellow, cream and blue. They prefer a well drained soil and will not do well in heavy clay soil or soil that is constantly moist.

The only problem with irises that I have experienced is that they do not have a long bloom time, and the flowers can be rather unattractive once finished. It is good to plant them in a spot where later flowering plants will help conceal them once their flowering period is over.

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Hydrangea

If you have a shady yard, or a shady spot in your garden where other perennials don't do well and you want something with flowers, then I recommend you give hydrangeas a try. I've tried a few different types of hydrangea plants, and have had the most success, by far, with Annabelle Hydrangeas. Annabelles are shrubs which can grow quite large, and have large flowerheads of small creamy white flowers which turn greenish in the fall. They make great cut flowers, either fresh or dried, and the dried flowerheads add interest in the winter to your garden.

You can also grow pink or blue hydrangeas. The colour of the flowers will depend in large part on whether you have acid or alkaline soil. It is possible to alter the acidity of your soil to change the colour of the hydrangea flowers, but this is a little more work than I like, and generally I prefer to let nature do its thing.

Top Low Maintenance Perennials Information

Plant Common Name
Scientific Name
Sun or Shade Preference
Blooming Season
Coneflower
Echinacea
sun
July to September
Daylily
Hemerocallis
sun or partial shade
July to September
Peony
Paeonia
sun
June
Iris
Iridaceae
sun
April to June, depending on variety
Hydrangea
Hydrangea
shade or partial shade
July to September

Garden Poll

Which of these are your favourite perennials?

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    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 4 years ago from Central North Carolina

      I know, I get in trouble shopping at nurseries-I want everything I see!

    • savingkathy profile image
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      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I hope they work out for you, Donna! It's always fun to go shopping at the nursery for new plants. :)

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 4 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Love all of these flowers. I haven't tried peonies yet, and my cone flowers died for some reason. I am adding them to my list along with peonies for my next shopping trip to the nursery!

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      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You're welcome, Dawn! Thanks for the visit. :)

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      Dawn 4 years ago

      Great hub - I'm mostly disinterested in flower gardens (I prefer vegetable) but want to start on something so that our backyard isn't so boring come summer... now I know how! Thanks Kathy.

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      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Free purple echinacea is something I would never turn down. I'm glad I convinced you to give them a try! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Thanks for the votes. :)

    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 4 years ago from South of France

      The perfect hub for me, especially as I was dithering about placing an order with a garden website where the free gift is three purple echinacea. I had to look them up and was wondering 'do I really need these?' but your hub has convinced me - thank you! Voted up and beautiful.

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      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Glimmer Twin Fan. I love peonies too -there's just such a romantic, old-fashioned appeal to them. That's a shame that the deer eat your hydrangea. I don't have to worry about that in our yard. My biggest problem with wildlife is the squirrels that dig up my tulip bulbs and planters.

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      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Thundermama! I love our front yard garden. I'd much rather be planting flowers, weeding the garden and taking pictures than mowing the grass. I'm gradually converting more of our backyard to low maintenance perennials, but with two dogs and two kids I do have to keep some lawn!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Beautiful hub. Peonies are my all time favorites and I have been planting quite a few over the years. Unfortunately the deer like my hydrangeas as much as I do. I'm trying to figure out a solution for that.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      Wonderful tips, I am very interested in converting our front yard to a perennial garden and like the idea of low maintenance flowers. Voted up and sharing.

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