Top 10 low-maintenance plants that are easy to look after all year long
Many people love the look of a plant-filled garden, but not all of us enjoy the upkeep. The good news? For those of us who like to plant and almost forget, there are a host of plants for you to choose from! This top 10 selection is made up of low-maintenance, non-fussy options that look good in a garden or in a container.
Flower Power's top 10 low-maintenance plants
These spiky succulents enjoy hot, dry conditions. Teamed with native grasses and pebble or gravel mulch they create a very low-maintenance garden. As a plus, when aloes flower, they are highly attractive to nectar-loving birds. Most aloes have tall candelabras of red or terracotta-toned flowers in autumn and winter, but there are also white and yellow varieties.
Native plants are often easy care. In particular, there are many species of banksia that are an ideal plant choice for a low-care native garden, bird-friendly garden or even a seaside garden. Banksias are long-flowering and often bloom during autumn and winter. Most need little pruning or shaping. The coast banksia (Banksia integrifolia) is an ideal plant choice as a windbreak or screen for a coastal garden. Add other low-maintenance native shrubs including westringia, grevillea and wattles. Apply a native plant food in spring and water to get plants established or when it is very dry.
Also known as looking glass plant, coprosma is an evergreen shrub that was made for the laid-back gardener. The most commonly seen coprosma has small, round, shiny green leaves, but in recent years, varieties with boldly coloured red, burgundy and orange leaf tones have been developed to add colour to gardens without the fuss of flowers. ‘Pacific Sunrise’ and ‘Pacific Sunset’ are two colourful varieties to look out for to colour up a low-maintenance garden, create a colourful hedge or grow in pots on a balcony.
Need another reason to love coprosma? We've listed our top three here.
All succulents are fairly set-and-forget, but crassulas are particularly rewarding for the low-maintenance gardener as they have attractively shaped leaves and in spring are massed with white flowers. These plants take full sun, even hot westerly conditions, and once growing don’t need much additional water or care. They also make good long-term pot plants. No pruning required.
An evergreen shrub that’s native to New Zealand, Hebe is naturally rounded and compact in its growth, with small dark green, variegated or red-tinged leaves. Enjoy masses of small spires of purple, blue, pink or white flowers in from spring to autumn. For good long-term growth in a low-maintenance garden, grow hebes in well-drained soil with extra water when it is particularly hot or dry. Hebe grows in full sun, but is easiest to manage where it gets afternoon shade. There are many species and named varieties. Two to look out for are ‘Inspiration’, which has mauve flowers and ‘Pretty in Pink’, which has pink flowers and burgundy-toned leaves.
To learn a little more about hebes, click here.
Hibiscus plants are often used in mass plantings in subtropical zones in areas such as hotels and parks yet many gardeners view them as tricky to grow. In warm and coastal climates, hibiscus are reasonably easy to grow (however, it is worth noting that these plants are deciduous in cold zones and can be damaged by frost in cold winter zones). Hibiscus flower from late spring to autumn. For low care, stick to old-fashioned varieties such as the tall growing ‘Apple Blossom’ or the naturally compact forms such as the yellow, large-flowered ‘Surfrider’. Also worth growing are patio selections, which are naturally compact with large flowers. Prune in late winter or early spring. Feed regularly through the growing period – these are hungry plants – and keep hibiscus well watered. If hibiscus beetle is a problem, pick up and dispose of fallen flowers.
Want more care advice for hibiscus? Click here!
This is a category that includes both true grasses (such as Poa labillardieri) and grass-like lilies such as dianella and lomandra. Mass these clumping plants together or use dwarf forms as an soft edging. These clumping plants team well with other low-maintenance plants such as succulents and natives.
Olives are handsome small trees with silver trunks and small, dark green leaves. European olives also produce fruit. They are very low-maintenance in Mediterranean climates and can be grown in large containers or in the ground. Prune in winter if necessary. Select an open spot with good air circulation in full sun or with afternoon shade. Click here for more info on how to grow an olive tree.
Philodendrons are best known as indoor foliage plants, but can be also grown outdoors in frost-free areas for foliage colour in tropically themed gardens. ‘Rojo’ and ‘Rojo Congo’ have dark burgundy toned leaves. Don’t allow philodendrons to climb into trees.
Best known as Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica), this evergreen shrub is an ideal screen or hedge plant and can also be grown in containers in exposed situations. Enjoy masses of white or pink flowers in spring and summer followed by black berries. In some subtropical areas people and authorities consider it weedy. Select named varieties and prune after flowering before fruit ripens to enjoy a thoroughly low-maintenance shrub. Click here for more growing tips.