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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – February 1

I am up at New England Grows in Boston, and the weather has prevented some speakers from arriving. I offered to replace the scheduled speaker for the talk on Low-Maintenance Perennials on Wednesday, but at this late hour they won’t have time to print my handout. So for all of you who want to see it immediately, and for those who aren’t in Boston for the trade show but would like a list of low-maintenance perennials, I am posting it here tonight. In the garden and in life, flexibility is everything.

C.L.’s List of Low-Maintenance Perennials

What makes a perennial low-maintenance?

  1. It has to live reliably for at least 4 years.
  2. It does not take over or need frequent dividing.
  3. It does not self-seed prolifically.
  4. It is disease and insect resistant by and large.
  5. It doesn’t usually need staking.
  6. Deadheading is optional.
  7. Of course, you have to use the right cultivar and place it in the right growing conditions for that plant.

Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’ (purple bugbane – z4 – pt shade)  AKA Cimicifuga

Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ (blue fortune hyssop – z5 – sun)

Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas blue star  – z 5 – Sun)

Athyrium felix-femina (lady fern z 4 Part Shade/Shade)

Baptisia australis (false indigo – zone 3 – sun/part sun)

Calamintha nepeta ssp. Nepetoides (lesser calamint-z5 sun)

Crysogonum virginianum (green and gold – z 5 –sun/pt shd)

Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart – z 3 – part sun/shade)

Epimedium species and varieties (zone 4/5–pt shade/shade)

Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’ (purple boneset – z3 – sun)

Geranium macrorrhizum (z3 – sun/part shade)

Geranium ’Rozanne’ (z5 – sun)

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (hakon grass – z 5-pt sun/shd)

Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ and other H. autumnale (Helen’s flower – z3 –sun)

Hemerocallis species and hybrids (daylilies – z3 – sun/pt sun) Shown – late blooming variety ‘Final Touch’  Also

‘Stella de Oro’ must be cleaned right after flowering because there is nothing more ugly than an un-deadheaded ‘Stella’.

Heuchera hybrids including ‘Pinot Gris’ (z 4 – sun/part shade)

Hibiscus hybrids (rose mallow – zone 4 – sun/part sun)

Hosta hybrids (hosta – zone 4 – part sun to shade)

Kirengeshoma palmata (yellow waxbells – z5 – pt sun or shade)

Lamiastum galeobdolon ‘Herman’s Pride’ (Yellow Archangel – z3 part sun/part shade)

Ligularia “The Rocket” (zone 5 – Part sun or part shade)

Nepeta faassenii ‘Six Hills Giant’ (catmint – z3 – sun)

Paeonia lactiflora hybrids (peony – zone 3 – sun)

Panicum virgatum ‘Ruby Ribbons’ (zone 4 – sun)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage – z4 – sun)

Persicaria amplexicaule ‘Golden Arrow’ (zone 4/5 pt.sun)

Platycodon grandiflorus short hybrids (balloon flower z3 sun)

Saruma henryi (upright wild ginger  z 4 pt sun/pt shade)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (zone 3 – sun)

Sedum ‘Angelina’  (zone 3 – sun) note: you might want to cut off the flowers. Does spread…

Stokesia laevis (Stokes aster – zone 5 – sun)

Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ (foam flower – z4 – pt shade/shade)

C.L. Fornari is a speaker, weekly radio host and the author of several books on gardening. She runs a consultation service for Hyannis Country Garden, an independent garden center on Cape Cod. She can be found online at: or

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