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Easy gardening reliable perennials

colourful perennial garden border
A perennial border brimming with colour.
Image: seaonweb

Perennials are plants that come back year after year and help to form the basic structure of your garden. Some are evergreen and some die back in the winter. Some provide excellent ground cover while others are ideal for adding height.

Grown for their foliage, flowers or both, perennials can be planted in beds, borders and containers to provide low-maintenance colour. Here are some easy-to-grow varieties to get you started.

Heuchera

chocolate ruffle heuchera plant
Heuchera "Chocolate Ruffles" provides colour and structure.
Image: Maria Evseyeva

Heuchera plants are easy to grow and come in a variety of foliage colours – from pale yellow to deep purple. Low-maintenance, compact and with the added bonus of pretty flowers in summer, they work beautifully at the front of borders or in pots on the patio.

Flowering period: mid-April to mid-July
Height: up to 50cm
Position: sun or semi-shade

Hardy Geranium

hardy pink geranium in rocky garden
This pretty geranium has been used as groundcover in a rock garden.
Image: Flower_Garden

Hardy geraniums are one the easiest plants to grow and are great for tricky areas of the garden such as dry shade. Geranium plants are low-maintenance, providing colour over a long period in the summer, and bees love them too. You can use them as ground cover, softening the edges of cottage gardens or to fill gaps in herbaceous borders.

Flowering period: mid-April to mid-September
Height: up to 60cm
Position: sun or semi-shade

Hardy Osteospermum

pink osteospermum flowering
This carpet of African daisies flowers well into autumn.
Image: alybaba

Also known as the African daisy, hardy Osteospermum is one of the easiest ground cover plants you can grow. With an incredibly long flowering period that lasts well into autumn, a profusion of cheerful blooms are borne above low-growing carpets of foliage. Perfect in coastal gardens, this resilient perennial is happy in hot, dry, neglected conditions once it has become established.

Flowering period: mid-May to mid-October
Height: 15cm
Position: full sun

Phlox

purple phlox in borders
Purple phlox adds structure to the middle or back of your borders.
Image: Photomara

Phlox has the most enchanting fragrance, so it’s great planted in borders close to paths and patios where you catch the scent on warm summer evenings. Available in a range of colours from white through to pink and blue, it also makes wonderful cut flowers to enjoy indoors too. Choose from upright or ‘creeping’ varieties.

Flowering period: mid-June to mid-September
Height: up to 90cm
Position: sun or semi-shade

Oriental Poppies

bright red oriental poppies
The rich crimson red of these oriental poppies looks stunning in a cottage style border.
Image: Flower_Garden

The large flowers of Oriental poppies are a stand-out feature of any summer border. Long, delicate stems emerge from neat clumps of foliage, attracting bees and other pollinating insects. After the flowers have faded, they’re followed by large pepper pot seedheads that bring interest to your borders well into the autumn.

Flowering period: mid-April to mid-July
Height: up to 90cm
Position: full sun

Alstroemeria

exotic alstroemeria on sunny day
Alstroemeria return year after year and make excellent cut flowers.
Image: Hivaka

Undemanding Alstroemeria flowers, also known as Peruvian lilies, are a striking addition to beds, borders or patio containers. Cut a few stems to create an exotic looking display indoors or enjoy their long blooming period in the garden – you’ll have a choice of vibrant colours from June to November.

Flowering period: mid-May to mid-November
Height: up to 70cm
Position: sun or semi-shade

Bearded Iris

purple and cream bearded iris
A cottage style classic with bright frothy flowers.
Image: Todd Boland

The bearded iris is a classic cottage garden plant with striking ruffled flowers and strap-like leaves. Some varieties, like the Iris pallida 'Aurea Variegata' has unusual cream and green striped foliage to maintain interest once the flowers have faded. Perfect for adding structure and height in the middle of borders, choose from a wide range of colours. Some flowers also have a light scent.

Flowering period: mid-April to mid-June
Height: up to 120cm
Position: full sun

There’s no such thing as a maintenance-free garden, but planting our choice of undemanding and reliable perennials will make your beds, borders and pots as low-maintenance as possible. What’s your favourite?