Tolerant from zones 3 through 11, there is coreopsis for just about every flower garden. Commonly called tickseed, this relative of the sunflower prospers in dry, sunny locations with poor soil, making it ideal for problem areas in the garden. Coreopsis makes an ideal centerpiece in containers surrounded by shorter trailing flowers.
A broad group of tough, drought-tolerant plants including sedum, aloe, agave, and cacti, succulents are the perfect plant for gardeners who forget to water. If planted in well-drained soil, they require only a sunny spot and occasional watering.
Potted heat-tolerant cactus and aloe beautify decks and patios in the summer before being brought inside for the winter. Not all succulents are warm-weather plants, however. Showy sedums, such as the popular 'Autumn Joy', are hardy from zones 3 to 10.
If you want to know which plants grow best in your region, just look around. North American wildflowers, such as purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), are practically carefree from zones 3 to 9 because they've evolved in harmony with the environment and native pests. Look to smaller, local nurseries for plants native to your region.
More to Choose From
• Blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata)
• Virginia spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)
• Calico aster (Asteraceae lateriflorus)
• Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
The right ornamental grass is an easy grower that adds sound and light to your lawn and garden. The problem with many ornamental grasses is they often grow too well. Self-sowing miscanthus can quickly overtake a garden.
Ornamentals such as fox-tail barley (Hordeum jubatum), blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens), or tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) are less aggressive, yet display fountains of foliage perfect for borders and barriers. While not a true grass, sedge is a hardy, grass-like perennial that grows across a wide range of environments.
Like most varieties of morning glory, moonflower grows vigorously, even during the shortest growing seasons. But unlike common morning glory, moonflower's saucer-size, fragrant white flowers open in the evening.
It's not unusual for this climber to spread over 15 feet along fences or trellises in a single season. Plant the seeds in a sunny spot with soil of average moisture, and moonflower will produce all summer long until the first frost. Over-fertilizing moonflowers actually stifles bloom development.
With more than 70 species, there is a phlox for just about every condition of sun, shade, and soil. Smooth phlox is hardy from zones 3 to 9, an area from southern Alaska to Florida.
• Dusty Miller (Artemisia stelleriana)
• Miss Jekyll (Nigella damascena)
• Stonecrop (Sedum acre)
• Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
• Daylilies (Hemerocallis)
If there's a plant that begs to be ignored, it's nasturtium. Sown from seed as an annual in much of North America, it quickly spreads a low blanket of attractive foliage topped with cheerful flowers. Most varieties require very little water and no fertilizing. In an unusual twist, most garden pests avoid nasturtium, but the flowers, leaves, and seeds are edible. The leaves and blooms add a peppery twist to soups and salads.