10 Hard-to-kill Perennial Plants

10 Hard-to-kill Perennial Plants

Tough and resilient perennials for the beginning gardner

By Published July 11, 2015 Updated July 31, 2023

The following article is part of a series geared toward entry-level gardeners. For deep dives into a variety of perennials that we have sold over the decades, visit our archive of in-depth perennial articles written by Tony Avent, Dr. Patrick McMillan, and other Plant Delights and JLBG experts. We also have transcripts of our Gardening Unplugged videos, recorded during our Open Nursery and Garden Days, that have great information for gardeners of all experience levels.

Gardening is a fulfilling and rewarding hobby that connects us with nature and allows us to create beautiful, vibrant spaces around our homes. For the beginning gardener, the process of selecting plants can be both exciting and overwhelming. While the allure of delicate blooms and exotic species may be tempting, inexperienced gardeners often find themselves challenged by the care and maintenance required for such plants. To ease the journey for novice gardeners and instill confidence in their green thumbs, we present a curated list of 10 hard-to-kill perennial plants. These resilient beauties not only survive in various conditions but also flourish with minimal care and attention, making them the perfect companions for those new to the world of gardening. From vibrant perennials that boast year-round blooms to robust evergreens, this selection promises to enhance any garden space and inspire new gardeners to cultivate their green spaces with passion and success.

Our Favorite Outdoor Plants that are Hard to Kill

  1. Agave: Agave, with its striking rosette of thick, fleshy leaves, is a tough and drought-resistant perennial. Native to arid regions, this low-maintenance succulent adds a touch of exotic beauty to any garden while being incredibly forgiving to neglectful watering habits. It's a perfect choice for novice gardeners who might occasionally forget to water their plants. Just ensure good drainage to prevent root rot.
  2. Aspidistra: Aptly nicknamed the Cast Iron Plant, Aspidistra is a resilient and adaptable foliage plant. Its dark green, glossy leaves bring an elegant touch to shady corners, as it can thrive in low light conditions and is almost impervious to pests and diseases.
  3. Baptisia: Also known as False Indigo, Baptisia is a tough, long-lived perennial with beautiful pea-like flowers. This drought-tolerant plant is perfect for adding color to gardens, and once established, it requires little maintenance, making it a beginner's dream. Their long taproots help them access water deep in the soil, reducing the need for frequent watering.
    Image of Baptisia 'Blue Candelabra'
    Baptisia 'Blue Candelabra'
  4. Echinacea: Echinacea, commonly known as Coneflowers, are delightful and easy-to-grow perennials that attract pollinators to the garden. Their vibrant, daisy-like flowers provide a burst of color, and they are well-suited to a wide range of climates.
  5. Ferns: Ferns are versatile, shade-loving perennials that add lushness and texture to any garden. With their graceful fronds, they thrive in damp, low-light environments, and their forgiving nature allows beginners to cultivate a soothing green oasis with ease.
  6. Hosta: Hostas are beloved for their attractive foliage, which comes in various shades and patterns. As shade-tolerant perennials, they are low-maintenance, long-lasting, and resistant to pests, making them a popular choice for novice gardeners.
  7. Iris: Irises are stunning perennials that come in a rainbow of colors and boast distinctive, sword-like foliage. These hardy plants can adapt to different soil types and require minimal care once established, rewarding gardeners with impressive blooms year after year.
    Image of Rohdea japonica
    Rohdea japonica
  8. Rohdea japonica: Rohdea japonica, commonly known as Japanese Sacred Lily, is an evergreen perennial that adds texture and interest to garden spaces. Its graceful arching leaves and adaptability to various growing conditions make it a fantastic choice for beginners.
  9. Salvia: Salvia, or Sage, encompasses a wide range of hardy perennials with attractive spikes of colorful flowers. These drought-resistant plants are easy to grow and are a favorite of pollinators, making them a delightful addition to any garden.
  10. Yucca: Yucca plants are tough, architectural perennials that thrive in arid conditions. Their sword-like leaves and striking flowers create a bold statement in the garden, and they are well-suited to beginners due to their drought tolerance and resilience.
    Image of Yucca flaccida 'Gold Heart'
    Yucca flaccida 'Gold Heart'

Gardening Tips for Beginners

Before you set out on your gardening journey with these hard-to-kill perennial plants, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose the Right Location: Consider the sunlight and moisture requirements of each plant. Place sun-loving plants in sunny spots and shade-loving ones in shaded areas.
  • Good Soil is Key: Ensure your garden soil is well-draining and enriched with organic matter. Proper soil preparation sets the foundation for healthy plant growth.
  • Water Wisely: While these plants are resilient, they still need water to thrive. Water deeply and less frequently to encourage strong root systems.
  • Mulch Matters: Apply a layer of organic mulch around your plants. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and maintain even soil temperatures.
  • Pruning and Deadheading: Regularly remove dead or faded flowers to encourage continuous blooming. Pruning also helps shape your plants and maintain their overall health.
  • Learn from Nature: Observe your garden and the behavior of your plants. This will help you understand their individual needs and respond accordingly.
  • Patience Pays: Gardening is a journey, and success takes time. Be patient, and don't be discouraged by setbacks. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn.

As we conclude our exploration of 10 hard-to-kill perennial plants, we hope that budding gardeners have discovered a newfound sense of excitement and confidence in their ability to nurture and beautify outdoor spaces. Gardening, like any other art form, is a journey that requires patience, learning, and experimentation. By choosing these resilient perennial plants, beginning gardeners can create a strong foundation for their gardening endeavors and gain valuable experience that will serve them well in the future.

The joy of witnessing vibrant blooms, evergreen foliage, and attracting delightful wildlife awaits those who embrace this fulfilling hobby. Remember, while these perennial plants are hardy and low-maintenance, they still require some care and attention. Regular watering, occasional fertilization, and periodic pruning will go a long way in ensuring their health and longevity.

So, get your hands dirty, observe the magic of growth, and take solace in the fact that even the most experienced gardeners faced their challenges when they first began. Embrace the journey, celebrate the successes, and learn from the setbacks, for it is through this process that you will cultivate not just a beautiful garden, but also a deep connection with nature and a renewed appreciation for the wonders of life. Happy gardening!

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