Sell Customers On The Benefits Of Hassle-free Plants

In the 2012 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), a whopping 96.6 percent of respondents rated low-maintenance landscapes as somewhat or very in-demand. In particular, 85.4 percent of them had installed native or drought-tolerant plants in their outdoor living spaces.

The Winter 2011 survey on sustainable gardening by the Garden Writers Association Foundation showed similar results, with 58 percent already having reduced their watering and 35 percent adding more drought-tolerant plants.

At the same time, respondents in the ASLA survey stressed their love for outdoor leisure elements like grills (97.4 percent), pools (79.2 percent) and seating and dining areas (95.7 percent).

According to these gardening and landscaping surveys, the desire for a low-maintenance landscape continues to increase, and Americans’ love for outdoor amenities like fire pits, grills, dining areas and seating also shows no signs of waning.

So combining the two should mean less work and more play, right? Here, experts suggest the fuss-free flowers and foliage for outdoor living that customers love.

“Whether you’re relaxing during a private moment in your personal sanctuary or hosting a dinner party, you don’t want to come out to a tired, ailing landscape,” says Anthony Tesselaar, cofounder and president of Tesselaar Plants. “The idea is to go for something that’s easy-care with season-long interest, so you never have to worry about what’s outside your door.”

“We all lead such busy lives,” agrees California landscaper and North Coast Gardening blogger Genevieve Schmidt. “You don’t want an outdoor living space where you’re looking at more chores or another to-do list.”

Consider Native And Adaptive Flowers For Low-Maintenance Options

If customers are looking for less watering, spraying and pruning, flowers aren’t out. Schmidt regularly uses drought-tolerant, blooming perennials like catmint, hardy cranesbill geraniums, ornamental sages, Russian sage, lavender, lion’s tail, euphorbia, sunrose, artemisia and phlomis.

Landscape roses are another favorite of Schmidt’s, and she often turns to the Flower Carpetline. Often called desert roses in the southwest, these shiny-leaved, colorful bloom factories can be a great choice for low-maintenance, season-long color in beds or containers.

When planted en masse, carpet roses (which spread more horizontally than vertically and become covered with a blanket of blooms) are also a great way to quickly fill in a large bed while turning it into a more low-maintenance, sustainable landscape.

The Flower Carpet range of roses, notes Tesselaar, won high marks in the Dallas Arboretum’s plant trials in extreme heat. The series has also won the most awards for disease-resistance; including, Germany’s coveted All Deutschland Rose designation, a top honor for disease-resistant roses. “And if you want roses in containers, which succumb to drought even quicker, Flower Carpet’s Next Generation line offers even better heat and humidity tolerance.”

Another Tesselaar plant that did well in the Dallas Arboretum trials was the Storm series of agapanthus (lily of the Nile). “It offers up to three flushes of blooms a season with full clusters of strappy foliage in between for season-long interest,” Tesselaar says.

Jimmy Turner, senior director of gardens for the Dallas Arboretum, says it’s good for mass planting because of its sturdy, multiple flower stalks, uniform height and multiple flushes of blooms, each lasting six to seven weeks. “It’s really a head-turner when it’s by itself in a pot,” Tesselaar says.

Schmidt also recommends native and adapted plants, those that naturally grow or thrive in your area without using a lot of resources, respectively. “Native plants are especially nice for outdoor leisure areas, because you’re inviting in the local cycles of wildlife and a balanced local ecosystem, which means wonderful extras like singing birds, the sight of butterflies and nature’s own methods of pest and disease management.”

There’s a native plant society for almost every state, she says, and you can go to your state’s page to learn more about native plants in your area.

Foliage Adds Easy Color And Curb Appeal 

Low-maintenance foliage can also add character to outdoor living spaces.

“Going without flowers doesn’t mean going without color,” says Tesselaar. The colorfully foliaged Tropicanna cannas, which can handle wet feet, can be potted and set right into your favorite water features. And the dark-red, strap-like foliage of ‘Festival Burgundy’ cordyline is so extremely drought tolerant and pest resistant, you’ll wonder if it’s real. It’s basal-branching, low-growing structure allows for fuller, more compact clumps and a gentle fountain effect — perfect for containers or color blocking around your favorite outdoor living spots.

Festival, which is only hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 or warmer, also overwinters beautifully as a houseplant, says Tesselaar. “So you can simply bring the patio pot in or out depending on the season or replant it in the landscape year after year.”

Schmidt loves the bright-red color of Japanese blood grass, along with other low-maintenance ornamental grasses like maiden grass (miscanthus — although it’s considered invasive in some areas of the country), blue oatgrass, leatherleaf sedge, fountain grass and noninvasive dwarf or clumping bamboo. Favorites in other parts of the country include ‘Elijah Blue’ fescue, pampas grass (also invasive in some areas), Northern sea oats, blue panic grass, muhly grass (also extremely salt tolerant and prevents sand dune erosion) and little bluestem (hardy to Zone 3).

Then there are Schmidt’s other foliage faves, which includes phormiums (New Zealand flax), nassella (needlegrass) and Mexican feathergrass. Succulents, she adds, have exploded in popularity — in containers, hanging baskets and even as wall art.

Of course, the plants themselves aren’t the only part of a low-maintenance landscape, say Schmidt and Tesselaar. There are also tips and tricks like mulching, grouping together plants with similar needs, efficient irrigation, reducing your lawn and maintaining healthy soil. But low-maintenance plants are a key ingredient.

“Some work in the garden is great if you enjoy it, but we all have tasks we’d rather not do,” says Schmidt. “I know I’d rather be doing artful pruning, potting up containers and deadheading instead of weeding or mowing. The idea is to reduce or eliminate what feels like work so you’re free to focus on what really matters to you.”

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Aquaponics At Brogue Hydroponics

March 30, 2015

Aquaponics Is Making A Splash At Brogue Hydroponics

The owners of Brogue Hydroponics explain why they expanded into aquaponics, and how the shift has helped them uncover a new market opportunity.

Read More
Hendriks-Half-Open-Roof_GGS

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Horticulture Priorities

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 25, 2015

13 New Shrubs You’ll Find At The 2015 California …

Woody ornamentals serve as the foundation of many great landscapes, but beyond their traditional uses, shrubs also add color, structure, texture and interest to small gardens and even containers. Check out this slideshow to see some of the newest introductions you’ll get to see at this year’s California Spring Trials.

Read More

March 23, 2015

Update To Armitage’s Greatest Perennials & Annuals …

A new update to the Greatest Perennials & Annuals app narrows the gap between consumers and grower-retailers, while providing more of Armitage’s top picks and growing advice for success with plants.

Read More
2014 Poinsettia Season Report

March 18, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Seas…

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish. Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Survey received 143 responses from growers around the country. Here, you can download the complete results of the survey, by filling out the form.

Read More
Hydrangea 'Endless Summer BloomStruck' from Bailey Nurseries

March 17, 2015

Michael Dirr Slated To Address Attendees At Hydrangeas …

Dr. Michael Dirr to deliver the keynote address at Hydrangeas 2015 conference, hosted by the Cape Cod Hydrangea Society in partnership with Endless Summer Hydrangeas. The conference will take place at the historic Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, Mass.

Read More

March 17, 2015

16 New Blooming Potted Plants You’ll See At The 2…

Blooming potted plants are perfect gift items, and they put the finishing touch on any style of home decor. So when new varieties come on the market, growers and retailers alike take note of plants they know are going to make consumers happy. Check out the slideshow to see some of the new blooming potted plants making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Salvia 'Ember's Wish'

March 11, 2015

Annual Salvias – Not Just Red Bedding Plants Anym…

Salvias are popular — and they need not all be the same. Here are a few you know well, and perhaps a few you do not. All are easy to grow and may be found through a broker or grower.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

March 11, 2015

Memoirs Of A Plantsman: Q & A With Allan Armitage

In light of the upcoming release of Dr. Allan Armitage's memoir, "It’s Not Just About the Hat — The Unlikely Journey of a Plantsman," Greenhouse Grower caught up with him for an in-depth Q & A about his newest work and what he’s planning next.

Read More
Lavandula-Superblue

March 10, 2015

How To Determine When To Buy Herbaceous Perennials In V…

Exposing herbaceous perennials to cold temperatures, also known as vernalization, can yield a range of effects, especially on flowering. Beth Engle of SHS Griffin covers whether vernalized liners or unvernalized plants make the best sense for your sales windows.

Read More

March 4, 2015

California Spring Trials Preview: 32 New Perennials For…

Perennials are hot and if this preview of the 2015 California Spring Trials is any indication, there are going to be some great new perennial introductions for 2016. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out the slideshow to see some of the new perennials making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Lavandula 'Meerlo' (Sunset Western Garden Collection)

March 3, 2015

Why You Will Still Grow Today’s Big Perennial 10 Years …

What will be the next big perennial? Breeders say it takes more than a splashy plant to distinguish itself in the market. Therefore, the question is not what will be the next big perennial, but rather what perennial performs well enough in the garden to have staying power in the market for years to come.

Read More
Heuch Pink Fizz_featured

March 2, 2015

Intergeneric Crosses Are A New Perennial Trend

Intergeneric crosses, oddities some botanists say are an impossibility, have made serious inroads in the perennial world.

Read More
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The G…

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More

February 18, 2015

California Spring Trials Sneak Peek: New Annuals For 20…

If you're like us and you can't wait until the 2015 California Spring Trials to see some of the new genetics that will be hitting the market in 2016, never fear. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out our slideshow to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Athena Brazil Salvia 'Brazilian Purple'

February 18, 2015

ForemostCo And Athena Brazil Unite To Supply Unrooted P…

ForemostCo, Inc. and Athena Brazil have forged a working relationship to support each other in the unrooted perennial cuttings market for North America. The partnership, geared toward accommodating increasing demand for unrooted perennial cuttings in North America, adds diversity to a recently consolidated market.

Read More

February 17, 2015

Poinsettias Had Their Best Year In Many In 2014

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Growers were encouraged by high plant quality, enthusiastic shoppers and a stronger, less saturated market for poinsettias throughout the selling season. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish.

Read More
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

February 17, 2015

Geranium Hybrid ‘Biokovo’ Dubbed 2015 Peren…

Geranium xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,' a naturally occurring hybrid of G. dalmaticum and G. macrorrhizum, is the Perennial Plant Association's top pick for 2015 Perennial of the Year. Learn why this tough, landscape geranium took home the prize.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More