If you’re a gardener in the Pacific Northwest, you know that the region’s unique climate and growing conditions present both opportunities and challenges. The good news is that there are plenty of low-maintenance perennials that thrive in this area, allowing you to create a beautiful and vibrant garden with ease. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some old-fashioned favorites that are not only easy to grow but also add charm and color to your yard.
Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) is a classic perennial known for its simple and cheery flowers. With a sunny yellow center surrounded by crisp white petals, it’s hard to resist their charm. Besides being visually appealing, Shasta daisies also make great cut flowers and attract butterflies throughout the summer. They prefer full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. With a height of up to 3 feet and a width of 1 foot, they pair beautifully with the small-size blooms and leaves of the silvery gray and lavender Russian sage. Shasta daisies are hardy in zones 5-8.
Dahlias (Dahlia selections) are a diverse group of perennials that offer a wide range of colors and petal shapes. From glowing yellows to rich burgundies, and from little buttons to flowers bigger than your head, there’s a dahlia for every taste. The best part is that they are all beautiful and charming, making them a perfect choice for a low-maintenance garden. Dahlias thrive in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. They can reach heights of up to 6 feet and widths of 2 feet. For an interesting contrast, consider pairing them with spiky, upright liatris. Dahlias are hardy in zones 5-8.
For shade gardens, sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is an excellent choice. Its arching, deep green fronds add fantastic texture to any low-maintenance garden, and the fact that it’s evergreen means you can enjoy its rich color all year long. Sword ferns thrive in fertile, rich, well-drained soil and prefer deep or partial shade. They can grow up to 3 feet tall and wide. To add contrast in color and leaf shape, companion planting with variegated hostas is a great option. Sword ferns are hardy in zones 3-8.
Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum) is a shade-loving perennial that features graceful arching stems and bell-shaped flowers. Despite its delicate appearance, this plant is tough and can thrive in shaded areas where grass struggles to survive. It slowly forms large colonies, making it perfect for sharing with gardening friends or filling in bare spots in your yard. Solomon’s seal prefers shade and moist, well-drained soil. Growing up to 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide, it pairs well with ferns and hostas. Solomon’s seal is hardy in zones 3-8.
If you want a perennial that adds a sense of time to your garden, primroses (Oenothera selections) are a great choice. Different selections open their beautiful trumpet-shaped white, pink, or yellow flowers at various points during the day, providing a dynamic display. Evening primroses, in particular, have flowers that practically glow in the moonlight. Primroses require full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to 3 feet tall and wide. Pair them with another summer-long bloomer like perennial geranium ‘Rozanne’ for a stunning combination. Primroses are hardy in zones 3-8.
Wild ginger (Asarum europaeum) is a unique perennial that thrives in full shade. Its springtime flowers hide behind carpets of kidney-shaped, dark green leaves, but it’s the shiny, evergreen foliage that steals the show. When you brush your hand near the roots of this low-maintenance plant, you’ll catch a whiff of ginger aroma. However, it’s important to note that wild ginger should not be used as a ginger substitute, as it contains carcinogens and can cause kidney problems. Wild ginger prefers moist, well-drained soil and grows to a height and width of about 12 inches. Consider pairing it with the bushy growth and colorful toad lilies to add fullness to your garden. Wild ginger is hardy in zones 4-8.
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For a pop of vibrant red in your garden, look no further than cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). These easy-to-grow perennials produce spikes of bright red flowers that demand attention. Loved by hummingbirds, these plants will attract these delightful creatures to your yard. Cardinal flowers can thrive in both sun and shade, as long as the soil is moist. They can reachheights of up to 3 feet and widths of 2 feet. To complement their striking blooms, consider adding low-growing waves of contrasting-colored petunias to your garden. Cardinal flowers can be grown in zones 2-8.
Lupines (Lupinus spp.) are known for their architectural look, thanks to their upright spires of flowers. These showy perennials come in a wide range of colors, including shades of blue, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, and white. With such variety, you’re sure to find the perfect lupine to suit your yard. Lupines prefer moderately fertile, light, slightly acidic soil and thrive in full sun or partial shade. They can grow up to 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide. For a contrasting element, consider pairing lupines with the snowball shapes of viburnum. Lupines are hardy in zones 5-8.
By incorporating these low-maintenance perennials into your Pacific Northwest garden, you can enjoy a beautiful and vibrant landscape with minimal effort. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, these tried-and-true favorites are sure to bring charm and color to your yard. So go ahead and plant Shasta daisies, dahlias, sword ferns, Solomon’s seal, primroses, wild ginger, cardinal flowers, and lupines. With these easy-to-grow perennials, you’ll have the best-looking garden in your neighborhood.
*Note: This article is for informational purposes only. It’s always recommended to research specific plants and their growing requirements before adding them to your garden.