Here’s my top five favorite plant list, at least for today. This is the season for garden tours in my area so I’m liable to come up with some brand new favorites each time I get to wander through someone else’s garden full of favorites. But for now, my list shapes up like this:
1. Lamb’s Ear: (Stachys Lanata) This plant is thought to be native to Turkey and considered a weed there. I love it in my garden for the wonderful silvery light green color of the foliage as well as the soft texture of the leaves. Most gardening directions say that it needs partial shade, but I’ve got it in all sorts of situations and it seems to do fine no matter where I put it.
Lamb’s Ears don’t require excess watering and are even fine if you forget to water them. I do snip off the tall spikes of purple flowers since I find my plant stays bushier this way. I grow it for the color of the plant, not the flowers. I can get this plant to root by just pulling off a chunk of an established plant and sticking it into the ground for a brand new plant. This plant is a favorite of little kids (& adults too) for the soft, furry leaves.
2. Perennial Geranium: (Hardy Geranium) There are many varieties of this plant family, most have pink to lavender blossoms. The foliage is green, with each one having just a slight variation of leaf style. They add great texture to the gardens for this reason. This one likes good soil and doesn’t like to totally dry out, but it isn’t a disaster if it does as long as it eventually gets a drink. It needs at least half sun, but it makes my list because it doesn’t seem particular about where it ends up in my garden — it grows anywhere but total shade. Most gardening directions say to cut back for a second round of blooms and to cut back at the end of season. Confession: I’ve never done either of these & the plants all look great and continue to flower all summer.
I can dig up a piece of these plants once they are established to replant in another location. New starts do need regular water until they are rooted.
3. Lupine: This plant comes with great foliage — with the leaves in a starburst sort of arrangement. Its flowers are tall spikes, usually yellow, pink, blue or white. I have two sizes of Lupines in my garden, some for the lower edges in front and those that grow to three and four feet in the background. They like sandy, moist well drained soil and do tolerate some dry spells. The gardening directions say full sun to partial shade although again, I’ve put Lupines in almost any situation but total shade and they have done well. Lupines can be started from seed and they also self seed.
4. Bachelor Buttons: (Cornflower- Knapweed) Many gardeners consider these weeds, so take care where you plant them. I love them because they are one of the few plants with a bright blue flower. Many garden guides suggest these plants for kids to try growing. They like full sun, but will grow fine in mixed shade/sun. There are no special requirements regarding soil, they will grow in almost anything and they only need occasional watering. This plant self sows, so there will be new little plants coming up to replant in other areas next season.
5. Sedum: (telephium) I specifically love Autumn Joy sedums. They are a showy plant with blooms in late summer that change color from a pale green to pink and then to maroon by fall. They are easy to grow, they like a site with full sun and good drainage. They will survive without water for some time. The old growth needs to be trimmed off before the new shoots come on each spring, but that is the only maintenance this one needs. They are easy to propagate too — take almost any part of the plant, stick it in the ground and it will grow.
Can you see the trend through the list? These plants don’t have any special needs, none of them need to be staked and they can survive even if I am not giving them my undivided attention. The group of five also has a variety of shapes and colors to the plants themselves, bringing texture to the garden even when things aren’t in bloom.
In addition, all of them are easy to propagate, meaning in a season or two I will have more than twice the number of plants without spending a dime. Since that appeals to my frugal instincts, it’s a main reason they all are considered top five in my garden.
contrary1 is the editor of our sister site, Frugal Gardening