Care Free Perennials

Care Free Perennials
Care free perennials are a perfect choice for busy gardeners. These require minimal care.


Ironweed

Ironweed is a native wild flower in the daisy family. Like Stoke’s aster, this is also a member of the daisy family. The plant is suited to light shade and full sun.

It needs a moderate amount of watering. In the wild, this species occurs in both fairly dry and wet sites. This does best in a rich, deep, damp spot.

This native is found in the East. The very leafy plant is 3 to 8 feet in height and 2 feet across. It forms a clump.

The hairy, toothed, alternate leaves are lance-like. They can be ten inches long.

Flowering is in late summer into Fall. The showy pink or white blossoms form flat terminal and axillary heads. The blooms are ½ inch across. These have overlapping bracts with bristly tips.

The plant can self sow. It is considered a meadow plant. Easy to grow, ironweed is very undemanding.

A related species is taller than this one. Ironweed can be divided in the spring.


Russian Sage

A member of the mint family, Russian sage is a shrubby perennial that forms a clump. Hardy to zone 6, the shrubby, upright plant is 3 to 4 feet in height with a matching spread.

The attractive gray to white stems are covered with greenish-gray, aromatic, 4 inch long, sage-like, coarsely toothed foliage. This is aromatic when it is crushed.

The blue to lavender blossoms are small. These form terminal, widely spaced sprays. They emerge from late spring into fall. These lend a hazy look to the plant.

Free of pests, the plant is tolerant of poor soils, drought, and heat. Preferring a dry soil, it must have a well drained spot. Full sun is required.

Avoid fertilizing this plant. Water it sparingly and infrequently. Prune in the spring before the new growth starts to appear. The plant can be propagated by cuttings.

In the North, the plant can often come back from the roots if there is winter die-back.


Stoke’s Aster

Stoke’s aster is native to the Southeast. A member of the daisy family, the very adaptable, sturdy perennial is easy to grow. A popular garden plant, this reaches 1 to 2 feet in height with a spread of 1½ feet.

This perennial is hardy to zone 5. The plant features toothed, alternate, leaves, up to 8 inches long, and many much branched, hairy purplish stems.

The daisy-like blooms are typically blue-purple to blue or lavender. However, they can be yellow in some varieties. There is also a variety with pink blooms.

Up to 4 inches wide, these appear from May through October on branched flower stalks. They can be solitary or in groups of several. The flowers are surrounded by bracts with spiny teeth.

Full sun is best for this plant. It prefers a moist, well drained soil. The plant is evergreen in the Deep South and semi-evergreen in the Upper South. It can be grown from seeds or divisions.


Swamp Sunflower

Hardy to zone 6, swamp sunflower is a native perennial that is found in the East, particularly in swampy sites. It can be 5 to 7 feet in height with a spread of 3 to 4 feet. The rough, hairy stems are covered with hairs.

The very showy yellow, solitary sunflowers with purplish centers. They’re 2 to 3 inches wide. Flowering is from August through October.

The lance-like leaves are 6 to 8 inches long. This plant prefers a moist soil. It can spread by rhizomes.

A dwarf variety that is only half as tall is available. It is less likely to spread and is called Gold Lace swamp sunflower. There is also a variety with very light colored blooms.




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This content was written by Connie Krochmal. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Krochmal for details.