17 Low-Maintenance Plants and Dwarf Shrubs

Browse through these beautiful, but easy-to-care for plants and bushes.

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English Lavender

Tough comes in a pretty package with English lavender. This Mediterranean herb packs perfume into purple blossoms and silvery leaves. English lavender can form a fragrant hedge. In smaller gardens, try a compact variety, like ‘Munstead’ or ‘Thumbelina Leigh.’

Butterfly Bush

Prune these plants by late August, so plants have time to harden off before freezes arrive. Once you get these plants going in your garden, they'll quietly take care of themselves from there. Best perk of this variety, they beckon butterflies of all shapes and sizes to its blooms.

Fringe Tree

This beauty delivers white, fringe-like flowers in late spring to early summer, followed by blue-black fruits that are favorites among birds. Fall color delivers with leaves that shift from bright green to shades of yellow-gold. This tree has no pests and stands up to pollution. It also doesn’t need pruned. These plants grow 12 to 20 feet both in heighth and width.

Coral Bells

Splash some color into garden beds with the striking leaves of coral bells. This group of plants offers nearly any hue, and prefers a life of part sun, part shade. Many varieties bring bicolor designs to life. Use them to edge planting beds or fill out containers. They’re frequently deer resistant and always carefree.

Denver Daisy

This rugged rudbeckia is a stunner, opening bicolor blooms from midsummer to frost. Big flowers measure 6 to 8 inches across and feature brown centers surrounded with a red-brown halo and gold petals. Stems are sturdy—this bloom is a must for cutting gardens.

Ninebark

This is a classic, long-lived garden choice that’s been around for many years but many gardeners are still unfamiliar with it. Offering four-season interest, this hardy plant produces white flowers in the spring which turn into berries.

Contoneaster

Also known as bearberry, this groundcover brings multi-season interest to the garden with white summer flowers followed by bright red berries. Plants grow quickly, reaching a height of 12 inches with a spread of up to 8 to 10 feet. Prune plants as needed to keep them in check.

Wooly Thyme

Sometimes used as a holistic treatment for coughs and colds, thyme tea can be sweetened with honey. This variety, ‘Elfin’, is used as an ornamental; its tiny leaves grow slowly, filling in the spaces on a path or walkway. Choose common thymes for culinary uses.

Purple Pixie

Colorful and carefree this plants takes gardens up a notch with its contemporary weeping form and dark burgundy evergreen leaves. Pink flowers appear in spring. It’s a small shrub, growing 1 to 2 feet high. Use it in a planting bed, or tuck it into a 2-foot or taller container to showcase its weeping style. Loropetalum is pest-free and drought tolerant.

Agapanthus

Also known as Lily of the Nile, this beautiful flower features a deep green fleshy leaf and intense, purplish-blue flowers. If you live in Zones 6 to 10, you'll have success with this plant as it establishes itself well.

Fountain Grass

When designing planting areas, focus on drought tolerant plants that won’t guzzle water to look their best. Purple Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) and burgundy tinted purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) provide a long season of color and don’t need heavy amounts of water.

Chrysanthemum

Dress up your late summer and fall scenery with the dependable performance of small-flowered garden mums. You can choose blooms in a rainbow of hues, including white, red, gold, pink, rust and burgundy. This perennial is reliable, low-maintenance and a strong contributor to autumn color.

Rhapsody Blue Hydrangea

Despite its name, you may get pink or blue blooms, depending on your soil's pH. At 2 to 3 feet tall, Let's Dance 'Rhapsody Blue' reblooms in part sun to sun and is cold-tolerant in Zones 5 to 9.

Bird’s Nest Spruce

Bird’s nest spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’) is a type of Norway spruce that grows to resemble a flattened sphere. The top of the plant has a slight depression, which gives the effect of a bird’s nest. Plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, the perfect size for a foundation planting or rock garden and thrives in Zones 3 to 7.

Superstar Spirea

Showy pink flowers appear on First Editions Superstar spirea (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Denistar’) from late spring through late summer. Flowers beckon bees and butterflies, while the plant itself is deer resistant. New leaves emerge scarlet, shift to green in summer and deepen to bronze in fall. Grows 2-3 feet high and 3-4 feet wide and does best in Zone 3 to 8.

Bobo Hydrangea

Grow this 3-foot-tall hydrangea in full to part sun in Zones 3 to 9. This dwarf shrub bears abundant white blooms that stay white in any soil. And like all hydrangeas, this plant needs very little maintenance to encourage its abundant blooms.

Coneflower

Purple coneflower boasts striking blooms with reflexed purple petals that surround a spiky orange-gold cone. This drought-tolerant perennial does best in Zones 4 to 8 and native to the Central Midwest. Blossoms beckon butterflies and bees. Plants benefit from dividing when clumps enlarge and flowering slows. You can also lift and transplant young seedlings that form around the base of the mother plant.

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