March 23, 2017

I kill plants.  Not intentionally, mind you.  I raised four beautiful, well-functioning children and never once forgot to water or fertilize them.  The plants in my life have not been so lucky.  Every spring I start with the best of intentions.  I tote home all sorts of gorgeous flowering beauties from the garden center to plant all over my yard.  I arrange them with loving care.  They flourish.  For awhile.  As my enthusiasm for their almost daily care begins to wane (it's so dang hot outside and I'm sick of dragging out the hose), I begin to convince myself that those sweet little plants can survive just one more day without water.  I'll water them first thing in the morning, I tell myself.  And I mean it, even as one day turns into three.  I have, on occasion, brought plants back to life - snatched them from the brink of death with a generous watering and a heartfelt apology. "Yes, I know I'm a terrible plant mommy. Please forgive me!"  

In the end, as I am eventually faced with a crispy fried petunia plant, I am forced to speak truth to myself.  I am a plant killer. A wretched, pitiful plant killer. I look at my thumb. Yes, it's black. And the depth of my despair...I notice something.  A few of those plants have survived - in spite of me.  Some have even flourished. What's this?  It seems that some of our little green friends are well suited for imperfect gardeners like me.  They are not completely maintenance-free, but they require very little care.  Here in the south, these are typically heat resistant plants.  Why didn't I realize this 20 years and 500 plants ago? (May they rest in peace.)  At the very least, Southern Living magazine should have told readers that those beautiful home gardens gracing their pages actually require 30+ hours of yard work per week.  The truth hurts.

Let's get to it.  Here are six plants that, with realistic and reasonable care, I have not been able to kill.  Yet. 

1.  Lantana - This flower thrives in full sun and doesn’t require much water. Common lantana blossom into red, orange, or yellow flowers, while hybrids and other selections come in a larger range of colors. Reliable lantana is great to mix with other plants, so put them in a garden bed or window box.

2.  Daylilies - Frequently referred to as "the easiest perennial to grow," daylilies will survive the stifling heat and are relatively painless to grow. This flower comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, and June is the peak season of growth. For best results, daylilies should be watered fairly regularly and planted in well-drained soil. 

3.  Coneflowers - Often self-sowing, coneflowers need very little upkeep, are drought-tolerant and thrive in almost any soil with adequate drainage.

4.  Salvia - A true attention-getter, this tall drought-tolerant flower produces season-long color in just about any landscape. Its vibrantly colored columns range from 8 to 30 inches tall. These summer to fall bloomers are also striking when confined to containers.

5.  Ornamental Grass - Never underestimate the power of grasses. They are the perfect garden backdrop, adding texture, color and fullness to any space. Try switchgrass for splendid fall color and also feather reed grass for a stately sweep up to 5 feet.  Ask local garden center experts for a grass recommendation, too, since they’ll know what works best in your area.

6.  Succulents - Indoors or outdoors, succulents are a fabulous, low maintenance plant that can be grown nearly anywhere in the country.  Delightful and unique, succulents come in an array of sizes, colors, and styles.  I call them "personality plants." Love them.  Here's a link to caring for succulents outdoors:


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