If you’re yet to unleash your inner green thumb, don’t worry, these 10 beautiful plants offer big rewards for very little work. Whether you’re a complete novice or too busy for high maintenance, make your backyard stand out with these easy-to-grow plants.
Its deep-purple hues and intoxicating scent are reason enough to introduce lavender into your garden. Throw in that it’s easy to grow and low-maintenance too and you’ve got yourself an all-around winner! The wonderful thing about lavender is it’s easy to establish and even simpler to care for but in return will reward you with fragrance and colour throughout much of the year. Well suited to growing in warm, temperate climates as well as in cool regions, the native Mediterranean shrub thrives best in full sun in well-drained, fertile soil, though can also survive positioned in partial shade. The fuss-free plant likes shelter from the wind and prefers low humidity conditions but, once established, will be drought-hardy, requiring only occasional watering in particularly dry spells. Dead flowers can be trimmed back to encourage growth whilst cuttings can be taken for flavouring food or turning into your homemade tinctures, essential oil and creams.
These low-maintenance succulents are well set up to survive in the country’s harshest climates, able to cope in the dry conditions of arid Australia as well as in rainy regions. Also known as stonecrop, sedums vary in growth habits with everything from low-spreading ground cover to tall shrub species available. Happy to grow in full sun or partial shade in well-drained soil, most sedum species are drought tolerant but appreciate a soaking from time to time when in flower. Well known for their ability to thrive in everyday garden conditions, sedums have fleshly, oval-shaped leaves with standout sprays of pastel pink, yellow and white blooms that promise to brighten up any backyard.
A big yellow sunflower nodding in the breeze on a warm summer’s day is enough to cheer anyone up, so why not add some of these bright and beautiful giants to your garden? Sunflowers are notoriously easy to grow and make a fun first gardening project for kids too. Seeds are best sown in spring or early summer in fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny location that receives at least six hours of full sun per day. Give the soil a sprinkling of water every other day or so, more often in arid areas, stand back and watch the magic happen as your sunflowers reach for the sky. If they grow particularly tall it can help to support them with a stake, especially if they aren’t sheltered from the wind. If you’re not keen on growing tall plants, then choose seeds for a dwarf variety that grows to less than a metre high. Seeds can be saved from flower heads for a re-planting year after year.
Just because you’re a novice gardener or short on time, it doesn’t mean you can’t stretch beyond flowers to grow some edibles. Salad leaves are one of the easiest foods to grow and make a delicious addition to your plate throughout the year. There are a plethora of lettuces and salad greens to choose from and all are especially well suited to growing in full or partial shade in the cooler regions of Australia, in a greenhouse or inside in pots. Salad leaves can be grown year-round in frost-free areas in rich, loamy soil – work some compost into the soil before sowing seeds for best results. Soil needs to be kept consistently moist, so it’s worth investing in a soaker hose to do the hard work for you, especially for the warm summer months. There is a huge range of salad seeds to choose from including speedy growers and ‘cut and come again’ varieties to suit every type of garden and need.
Daylilies, named so because the flowers open in the morning and close at dusk, are some of the hardiest plants you can grow. Available in deciduous and evergreen species, daylilies grow best in full sunshine with consistently moist, well-drained soil. Bursting into bloom with radiant red, yellow, orange, pink and every colour in between flowers of all shapes and sizes, daylilies adapt well to growing in a variety of climates. These diverse perennials can be planted all year round, just work some manure or compost into the soil before sowing. The plants require frequent deep watering when first established but can be watered around once or twice a week thereafter, allowing the soil to dry out fully between watering sessions.
Bird of Paradise
This flamboyant plant, also known as the crane flower, might be striking to look at but is secretly a breeze to grow as far as tropical varieties go. Make a statement in your backyard with its colourful bird-shaped blooms and coarse leaves, best grown in partial or full sunlight outside or a pot indoors. Ideally suited to warmer climes, bird of paradise plants will thrive outside for much of the year in rich, well-drained soil. The South African native loves humidity, making it an ideal choice for gardens in Queensland and the Northern Territory states. The soil must be kept moist throughout the year to keep it happy. There are five varieties of the perennial to choose from, each surviving with little maintenance once established, and best planted in spring. Bird of paradise will not come into bloom until it has matured, which can take around four to five years. Getting the balance of moisture right will be the toughest part of this exotic plant’s care – be careful not to overwater. Beware, the bird of paradise is poisonous to dogs and cats if eaten.
Outside of the tropics, marigolds are well suited to growing in all other areas of Australia. Choose a sunny position with fertile, well-drained soil to plant – seeds are best sown in autumn or spring once the soil starts to warm up. The cheerful blooms will brighten up the yard with their gold, orange, red and yellow hues in summer, flowering all season long. Water regularly at the base of the plant, allowing the soil to dry out in between watering sessions, increasing the frequency in high heat. Though they don’t require deadheading, removing dead or dying blooms will encourage further flowers to grow. Marigolds make excellent cut flowers for indoor displays.
Also referred to as ‘paper daisies’, these ornamental flowers are native to Australia and in WA can be seen in dazzling displays as they sprawl across meadows and parks. ‘Golden Everlasting’ and ‘Diamond Head’ are among the most beautiful varieties you can grow, ideally suited to well-drained soil, full sunlight and occasional watering. The showiest of all native wildflowers, everlasting daisies flower throughout much of the year in a kaleidoscope of colours. Ideal for growing in rockeries, borders and containers, everlasting daisies provide a sublime ground cover and will attract plenty of bees and butterflies.
Fragrant and delicious, rosemary is a wonderful Mediterranean herb to grow in your garden. Its needle-like leaves are edible, frequently used for flavouring bread, stews, meat and many Italian dishes. Able to survive with very little water and poor soil, rosemary can thrive in pots, in garden beds or even used as an evergreen hedge. Attractive and versatile, this wood perennial shrub offers year-round splendour in the garden and some varieties even come into bloom in spring and summer. Rosemary likes hot, dry conditions with little or no frost, though will grow well in almost any climate, making it one of the easiest, fuss-free plants to have. Plant your rosemary in a sunny spot sheltered from the wind in well-drained soil. Rosemary likes a little water but doesn’t like to be too saturated or too dry, so water regularly but sparingly. Fragrant sprigs can be cut frequently to bring added flavour to your cooking.
Viola tricolor var. hortensis
These happy little flowers not only provide a pop of winter colour but are so easy to grow that any novice gardener can make a success of it. With their butterfly-shaped petals and rainbow of colour choices, pansies make a bright and beautiful addition to beds and borders. Happy to grow in full sun or partial shade, in a hanging basket, pot or straight from the ground, give them fertile, well-drained soil and a cool-weather climate and the flowers will bloom prolifically from winter through to spring.