Dusty miller makes a striking statement in any garden. The lacy, silver-gray leaves contrast with vibrant green foliage, so it works nicely as a lush backdrop for shorter plants or a border around taller plants. Besides its beauty, dusty miller has another noteworthy quality: ease of maintenance. The deer-resistant plant requires little care once established, and it will happily tolerate both heat and drought. Although it’s considered an annual, dusty miller tends to return every year in warmer climates (hardiness zones 8-10).
Lamb’s-ear gets its moniker from its soft, fuzzy, silver-green foliage, which resembles a real lamb’s ear. The low-growing perennial is often used as a border plant or ground cover, and it bursts with spikes of pink-purple flowers in the spring. In addition to requiring little maintenance once established, Lamb’s-ear easily handles both drought and poor soil conditions. As with all flowering plants, it’s best to deadhead blooms once they’re spent, but Lamb’s-ear will thrive whether you do or not. For best results, grow in areas of full sun or partial shade with well- draining soil.
Arkansas Blue Star
The feathery green foliage of Arkansas blue star changes with the season. After blooming with soft blue star-shaped flowers in the spring, it develops green feathery needle-like leaves in the summer, which turn brilliant gold in the fall. The leaves remain through a portion of the winter months as well. Low-maintenance Arkansas blue star resists deer and drought, making it a durable and beautiful option for any garden. Many homeowners combine the perennial with other grasses or use it as a border plant. Grow Arkansas blue star in full sun to partial shade, and make sure it has well-draining soil.
Fountain grass has feathery, cascading blooms that bring dramatic interest and texture to your yard—especially when planted in groups. The perennial grows in a mound shape, and its tan, pink, or purple flowers appear in late summer and fall. Since fountain grass thrives in dry soil, it’s ideal for drought-prone regions. It’s also very adaptable, making it an extremely low-maintenance plant. For an attention-grabbing garden design, grow fountain grass as an accent among other shrubs or green perennials.
Catmint, a non-culinary mint variety, is a long-living perennial with beautiful purple-blue flowers and gray-green foliage. Blooming in early spring, catmint grows up to three or four feet tall. Gardeners often plant the aromatic herb in rock gardens or along edging. Catmint is easy to grow, tolerates both heat and drought, and resists deer and rabbits (although, true to its name, it attracts cats). Pruning the flowers after they’re spent may give you another show later in the season.
Tremendously popular with American gardeners since the late Victorian era, clematis satisfies not only in the rapid speed of its growth, but also in its delightful tendency to climb and cover outdoor structures, lending shade, privacy, and undeniably charming curb appeal. The color, size, and timing of clematis blooms differ by variety. Some explode with large, violet-petaled flowers in the middle of spring, while others produce small, white blooms, which arrive in late summer or fall. All that said, no matter which variety you choose, you can expect the hardy perennial to always fare best when positioned in full sun and planted in cool, moist, well-draining soil.
Virginia-native coral honeysuckle grows naturally across much of the United States, from the northern reaches of Maine all the way down to the Florida Panhandle and as far west as Illinois. Meaning, despite the look of its show-stopping, hummingbird-attracting, trumpet-shaped blooms—or its bright-red, later-summer berries—this twisting, twining vine needs no special attention. Grow it in full sun or partial shade, and don't worry too much about watering, as coral honeysuckle withstands drought admirably well. Note only that if you wish for the vine to climb rather than grow into shrub or a ground cover, you must train it do so with narrow supports.
Why do so many homeowners continue to plant butterfly bush, even though many experts now consider the Asian import to be an invasive species? Simple: It’s a truly tough shrub made beautiful by eye-catching trusses of pink, white, or purple blooms. In addition, true to its name, butterfly bush typically doesn't fail to attract—you guessed it!—butterflies. So, there's a lot to like. However, unless you're prepared to see butterfly bush take over your garden, and perhaps you neighbors' gardens as well, remember that you must make sure to select a sterile, non-invasive variety, one whose full, mature size would fit in the sunny spot you plan for it to occupy.
Gardeners would be wise to remember that in nature, bog rosemary grows in soggy wetland areas. That means, if you don’t want to drive yourself crazy watering the compact, rounded shrub over and over again, you must be sure to plant it in soil that stays consistently moist. Also, bear in mind that bog rosemary (no relation to the herb rosemary) can be poisonous if ingested, so you may wish to look elsewhere if you have pets or children. All that said, so long as you can give the evergreen a suitable home, you can expect it to thrive without much care or pruning, and for masses of bell-shaped flowers to join the bluish, needle-like foliage from mid to late spring.
The common name "houseleek" refers to a diverse family of succulents with 40 distinct, identifiable species and hundreds more hybrids. Color, texture, shape, size—all are variable, sometimes wildly so, from one exotic-looking specimen to the next. Still, despite their diversity, houseleeks do share one key thing in common: the ability to withstand drought, wind, frost, and indeed, most any challenging situation, with the strong exception of waterlogged soil. Unless you live somewhere with sandy or gravelly soil, ensure proper drainage by planting each houseleeks on small mounds. Once in the ground, houseleeks demand next to nothing of their caretakers, a fact that seems only fitting, given that the Latin name for houseleeks roughly translates to "forever living."