One of the main reasons that gardeners plant perennials is because they give back for years and years after you plant them. An annual bed is a seasonal chore to re-plant, but a well-designed perennial border is nearly self-sufficient once established. However, some perennials take the 'low effort, high reward' ethos farther than others. Here are five of the most bomb-proof—but beautiful—perennials that require little more than a sunny patch of earth to grow and thrive. The following species typically need nothing more than to be cut to the ground each year in fall.
Artemisia 'Powis Castle'
|This perennial is known for its foliage, rather than its flowers. Its finely cut silvery-grey leaves shimmer in the sun and each time you brush against it a heady fragrance is released. This variety of Artemisia grows as a knee high, spreading shrub—the ideal filler between other perennials, giving the eye a place to rest on its soft feathery foliage. 'Powis Castle' is deer proof, drought proof, out competes most weeds and needs no water or fertilizer. USDA zones 5 to 9.|
Baptisia, False Indigo
|A lesser known native wildflower, Baptisia also goes by the common name of false indigo. The flowers are an electric indigo blue and resemble lupines—but are much tougher. The blossoms form tall spikes atop an enchanting grey-green mound of foliage in summer. Baptisia is long-lived and much adored by those who know it. You only have to plant it once and then stand back and enjoy it year after year. USDA zones 3 to 10.|
Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
|All sedums are known as being adaptable, drought tolerant plants. And while the groundcover sedums are tough, this upright sedum (18 to 24 inches tall) holds its own against weeds much better than its low-growing relatives, making it the star of the bunch. Plus, it reveals its enormous brick-red flowers at the end of the growing season, just when most other flowers are starting to fade. USDA zones 3 to 10.|
|Pure white 3-inch daisy flowers on 36-inch stalks that bob and sway in the wind—the perfect plant for the back of the perennial border. Shasta daisies are a super-sized wildflower that thrives even in poor, dryish soils. They are so robust that they often seed themselves, though not to the point of being invasive. USDA zones 5 to 9.|
|Here's one for the front of the perennial border. Yarrow has ferny leaves that grow just six inches tall and flat-topped flowers that rise to around 16 inches. It spreads as a groundcover, filling in all the little places between the other perennials, so the weeds can't get a toehold. The crushed foliage has a delicious scent and butterflies flock to the blossoms. Many colored varieties are available, but the basic white form is the toughest of them all. USDA zones 3 to 9.|