Plant Some Low Maintenance Beauties to Enjoy This Year
We love flowers all summer long…but, oh, the work. Why not try some nearly work-free blooms?
Among the easiest for northern gardeners are those plants that only need to be thinned every few years. Until the thinning, a little rain is all they need. My favorites are Lilies of the Valley. These are short spreaders, about 6-8 inches in height with early, wonderfully scented blossoms. The blossoms are along a stalk with about eight flowers on each stalk. This is a perfect shade plant. When the flowers are gone, you have beautiful green leaves for the summer. Lilies of the Valley make a lush border plant. You can ring a tree with them. Perfect for a rock garden. Lilies of the Valley do not do well in direct sun. They like mostly shade. They spread like crazy. Every three years, you can dig about half of them up to thin. The have a connecting network of roots. Just pull the roots apart, and get the ones you harvest in the ground before the dry out. You’ll have roots and plants to relocate to other areas. Blossoms from Lilies of the Valley are used in numerous perfumes. So delightful and carefree. You can successfully transplant these in spring or fall. You don’t have to feed these; but I give all my perennials one or two doses of fertilizer each season.
Iris. A tall, orchid-like flower will grow anywhere. Sun, shade, dry, damp. Anywhere. Iris have large bulbs and thrive when planted almost at ground level. You can throw a bunch of bulbs on the ground, and, surprise, they will flower the next year! They have long spear shaped leaves. There is now a huge variety of Iris on the market. You can choose from many colors other than the traditional purple we are accustomed to seeing. When dividing these flowers, simply put a shovel into the ground to raise the bulbs. You can cut groups of the bulbs easily by slicing with your shovel. They will have longer taps into the ground. Just break, or cut, each bulb off the main one. You can divide every two years for a huge supply of these never fail blossoms.
My all time favorite, easy flower is the Tulip. We only have them for a short time in the spring, but, wow, they are gorgeous. There are dozens of colors available. The best time to buy, if you are not set on one color, is late in the fall. You can get twice as many bulbs for your money. I cheat. I plant Tulips in the spring, too. Sometimes late in fall when planting is no longer possible, you can pick them up for a song. Plant them in the spring when the ground is still cold. You’ll probably have blooms in June.
Your best source for these favorites is friend’s gardens. Exchange some plants with a couple of friends. You are getting mature, locally hardy plants for zero money. Enjoy these flowers all the more since you know how little effort they take to provide such beauty. Just thin them every few years to promote healthy plants and more blooms.