April is a great time to get out there and get your hands in the dirt! It’s the ideal time to plant because the frosty mornings have usually gone, and it’s a month or two before it becomes scorching hot. If you’re anything like me, a truly lazy gardener, the best plants to plant are those that do not need a ton of upkeep and tend to thrive in the southern sun all on their own.
For beds located in full sun or full afternoon sun, there are a few trees and flowering plants that will grow into a beautiful array of colors without being high maintenance. Many of these you will also spot along the highways of North Carolina. Just think, no one is babying these plants after they have been planted, right? We don’t see teams of state workers along the highways every year watering, trimming, and cleaning up the planted beds. They thrive on their own and for the lazy (or too busy, if that sounds better in your mind) gardener, those are the plants we need.
Daylilies are a fantastic choice. They come in all sorts of colors ranging from deep burgundy to the peachiest of peaches – something for every person’s color palette. They can be tall or short in stature so there’s room to layer them and still have plenty of variation. They have enough greenery to spread around so they are a great choice when you have space to fill up. Daylilies are perennials, so they keep coming back and providing a punch of color year after year. They take on full summer sun and do well with the watering time that mother nature provides. They are hardy enough to be split up after a few years of maturing, so they make a great plant to pass on to family and friends. I have daylilies that are over 60 years old from generations passed down.
Crepe Myrtle trees or shrubs are also sun loving, low maintenance plants that offer color and height variety. The trees are often shaped prior to purchase so there’s little trimming that’s required up front. However, to keep a Crepe Myrtle small and ornamental, it will require some trimming once it reaches the desired size. If you have a large open space, these trees can grow very large over time if you let them, spanning fifteen feet wide and twenty-five feet high. Too often these poor ornamental trees will go through something I call crepe murder! That’s when you see one that has been trimmed too much and it’s just a sad trunk – that isn’t necessary to keep them small. An annual trimming and cutting back to the size you prefer will be enough to keep your tree at a desired size; no need to hack all the limbs down to the base. Dwarf Crepe Myrtles will only grow to a height of four feet and semi-dwarf can grow to a height of eight feet. Depending on what you need and where, there is a Crepe Myrtle that will probably suit your needs. They come in white, pinks, reds and purples which may be why they get the nickname “lilac of the south.” Once they are established, they are quite drought tolerant, making them an excellent choice for those on the lazy, or busy, side when it comes to yard work.
The Iris family is another very hardy, sun loving flower that will be an easy addition to any garden. These are not full of foliage, they are more upright in stature and don’t require a large amount of space, so they can be a nice filler, but their flowers are impactful, and they have plenty of variations (hundreds!) to keep things interesting when planted in large groupings! Irises are tuberous, which means they can also be divided and moved easily. They do not require a ton of water to survive the summer, so let Mother Nature take care of the watering.
Sedum plants, which can either be flowering or simply pretty foliage, are an easy growing, drought resistant plant. There are hundreds of these in the genus so a standout for me is the Mr. Goodbud or Stonecrop variation. They are tall, ranging from twelve to twenty-four inches in height and they have massive flower heads that span up to six inches wide. These plants have extremely strong stems, so even with their expansive burst of color, they aren’t going to flop over like the dreamy, pillowy, peony does. The Mr. Goodbud is a vibrant pink bud that bursts open to a purple pink. Sedums are ideal for any full sun garden and even potted plants that you do not want to have to fret over.
If you aren’t keen on yardwork or watering plants for hours, you don’t have to give up the idea of having some bold and beautiful colors around this summer!