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Top Low-Maintenance Perennials With Beautiful Flowers

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.

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 ground covers and flowers to see what would grow well without requiring a great deal of maintenance. Within that time, I've learned that:

  • 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 blooms beautiful flowers and spreads its seeds to fill out other areas of my garden from year to year, 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.

Best Low-Maintenance Perennials

Plant Common NameScientific NameSun or Shade PreferenceBlooming Season




July to September



sun or partial shade

July to September








April to June, depending on variety



shade or partial shade

July to September

1. 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.

2. 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 they will tolerate a variety of soil conditions. Most varieties prefer sun, but they 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.

3. 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 they 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 they 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 I have had the most success, by far, with Annabelle Hydrangeas.

Annabelles are shrubs which can grow quite large, and they 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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Kathy Sima


Jimmy on May 30, 2019:

I love all of them. As an avid gardener, vegetable and flower, I used to plant more annuals than perriniels. Now that I'm getting older, I'm leaning towards perriniels more. I have a hard time growing hydrangeas because I don't have much shade. I have grown peonies in the past but don't have any now. I absolutely love irises. I have several and I'm always on the hunt for different colored ones. I am also continually expanding my lily collection. I have lots of daylilies too. I plan on getting cone flowers and peonies next year. Happy gardening.

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on May 30, 2013:

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

Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 30, 2013:

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

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on May 29, 2013:

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!

Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 09, 2013:

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

Dawn on February 07, 2013:

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.

Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 01, 2013:

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 from South of France on February 01, 2013:

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.

Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 01, 2013:

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.

Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 01, 2013:

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!

Claudia Porter on January 31, 2013:

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.

Catherine Taylor from Canada on January 30, 2013:

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.