The best low maintenance shrubs look great—even with little or no care. A recent survey by Tiger Sheds showed that 67% of homeowners avoid maintaining their yards in the cold winter months. You might be one of them. That’s why it is important to choose the best low maintenance shrubs that are tough enough tough to survive on their own.
For many plants and shrubs however, winter is a real challenge. Especially if the temperature drops drastically, or there is a lot of snow or heavy rains. One solution is to plant hardy and low-maintenance shrubs in your yard. Shrubs that can tolerate the winter weather., and there are some beautiful varieties that will not only last, but also bring some color to your outdoor space.
The hydrangea is native to both America and Asia. It is often considered to be an old-fashioned plant, but has been having a resurgence in popularity in the past decade. The large flower heads make a striking addition to bridal bouquets.
One of the best low maintenance shrubs is also one of the most striking landscape plants. Panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata cvs., USDA Hardiness Zones 3–8) are considered the most cold-hardy of the hydrangea species. These dependable shrubs (some can even reach the size of a small tree) require minimal care. Unlike the giant flowers of “old fashioned” hydrangeas, panicle hydrangea flowers are a pyramidal shaped, loosely branched flower cluster. For many gardeners and homeowners, panicle hydrangeas are a more elegant plant.
Their stout, reddish brown branches support large, beautiful flowers. Most panicle hydrangea bushes grow 6-8 feet tall, although some can reach up to 15 feet tall. Due to their size, panicle hydrangeas are best for larger yards. Keeping your shrubs in good condition and regularly pruning them will help them stay healthy.
Soil alkalinity can affect the colors of the hydrangea flowers, which range from white through to deep purple. Hydrangeas should be planted in the spring and they prefer partial shade. Fertilize in the summer months to make sure that they have all the nutrients they need. Most hydrangea varieties only need fertilizing twice a year and are very low maintenance. One of the most stunning new varieties is Strawberry Sundae Hydrangea, but there are many others.
Best Low Maintenance Shrubs: Spirea
Spirea is an easy-to-grow shrub for almost every garden. This is one of best low maintenance shrubs for all the right reasons. Spirea is hardy in USDA zones 4-8 (and some varieties such as Double Play Gold Spirea can even grow in zone 3).
Spirea shrubs can grow in a wide range of conditions. These include heat, sub-freezing temperatures, high humidity, and drought.
These shrubs look great when they bloom in the spring. And many varieties also boast attractive, colorful foliage. These shrubs can be used as focal points in a flower bed. Smaller varieties, such as Goldflame Spirea that grows to about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide, look great along a sidewalk or garden path. Check out the selection of these great shrubs at NatureHills.com.
Some people hate juniper bushes. But they are tough, they are dependable, and they grow in places where nothing else can survive.
In fact, junipers might just be the easiest plant to grow in your landscape. There are many different species of Junipers, so there is probably at least one variety that will thrive in your yard.
Junipers are foliage plants, and no one grows junipers for their lovely flowers. That’s because they don’t produce lovely flowers. But berries grow on many varieties in the fall and winter. And many species of wild birds feast on the berries when there is little else to eat during the colder months.
Beware of the varieties that grow tall and become a nuisance. Stick with the low-growing varieties such as Arcadia Juniper or Blue Rug Juniper.
How tough are junipers? This tough: Junipers grow in USDA zones 2-10 in full sun to partial shade. They are drought resistant and evergreen. They thrive in lean, well-drained soil. And many species make an ideal ground cover for hot, sunny areas and hillsides.
Knock Out Roses
Most people probably think of rose bushes as shrubs. Well, Knock Out Roses are definitely shrubs. After all, they are woody plants and grow for many years. That’s what a shrub is.
But a Knock Out Rose also gives you a flower show in the spring and summer that most shrubs can only dream of. These tough plants thrive in zones 5-9—and some varieties thrive throughout zones 4-10. Most Knock Out Rose plants reach a mature size of about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. They love full sun, and they need moderate moisture in well-drained soil. Knock Out Roses are resistant to common rose diseases including blackspot, powdery mildew, and leaf rust. They also grow well in humid climates.
The flower colors of the many varieties include pink, red, white, coral, and yellow. Click here to view an assortment of Knock-Out Rose shrub varieties.
Best Low Maintenance Shrubs: Miscanthus
Here’s a choice that broadens the definition of “shrub.” Take one look at a miscanthus, and you see an ornamental grass. You recognize it immediately, and its familiar shape brings texture to the garden.
But in growing habit, cold hardiness, and ability to thrive year after year, miscanthus also serves as an awesome shrub. What a great way to mix things up and add something a bit different to your yard and garden. The long green leaf blades have light cream-colored highlights. Some varieties offer green veins and the appearance of a shimmery silver shade.
Miscanthus can grow up to 4 feet tall and wide. It loves full sun, and it’s great for drier climates. Some varieties, such as Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’, produce feathery seed heads that move gently in the wind. Most Miscanthus varieties are cold hardy in USDA zones 5-9.
Hardy Fuchsia Shrub
Fuchsia shrubs are native to the wilds of Central and South America. These natives thrive in the warm sub-tropical climates and are only hardy to USDA zones 10-11.
But the hardy fuchsia shrub, also called the hummingbird fuschia, is a much tougher plant. Even so, it is only cold hardy to USDA zone 6, so not everyone can grow it as an outdoor plant.
Hardy fuchsia shrubs produce brightly colored “ballerina” flowers that can last for months. The hardy fuchsia likes moist soil with good drainage and should be planted out of strong direct wind. Even if you cut a hardy fuchsia back during the winter, it will still grow back in the spring. Heavy pruning can even make them more resilient. That’s a real plus if you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to gardening.
The azalea is a type of rhododendron that produces large, colorful flowers that last for many months. The flowers come in a variety of different shades from vibrant magenta to bright yellow.
Azalea varieties that originate from Asia are generally evergreen, while the American varieties are often deciduous. They shed their leaves in the late fall and rebloom again in the spring.
Most azaleas are cold hard in USDA zones 6-9. They cannot survive the freezing winters in the northern U.S. But in the warmer Southeast and southern Midwest, they are both lovely and tough.
The University of Minnesota has developed azalea cultivars that do well in colder areas. These outstanding shrubs can survive cold Zone 4 winters. They include these varieties: Apricot Surprise, Candy Lights, Lemon Lights, Northern Hi-Lights, and Electric Lights Red.
Azaleas can grow to very large sizes and are often used for hedging or screening. They can also be kept in containers on your patio and require very little maintenance. Azaleas prefer an acidic soil that is between 4.5 and 6 in pH. They also need good drainage. If you grow an azalea in a pot, make sure there are holes in the bottom. Otherwise, the roots will become waterlogged.
Final Thought on Best Low Maintenance Shrubs
Planting large shrubs is a very economical way of bringing color to your backyard. Even if you don’t spend much time gardening over the winter, these hardy varieties will last well throughout the seasons.
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