Seeing colorful flowers blossom in the spring and summer is one of the many joys of warmer weather. From roses to sunflowers, there are all kinds of beautiful blooms to admire. Flowers aren’t the only stars of the show. Some of the best garden plants also include greenery, herbs and shrubs to create a lush and flourishing outdoor space. For gardeners, the sight is even sweeter when you are the one to plant and water the seed to maturity.
Aside from just looking pretty, getting your hands dirty has some more pros. A study reports that gardening could help reduce the risk of cancer, boost mental health and bring communities together. Scientists say it leads to eating more fibrous fruits and vegetables, exercising more and building social connections. These positive elements of gardening can ease stress and anxiety and lower the risk of various illnesses, according to researchers from The University of Colorado Boulder.
Speaking of mental health, another study expands on why gardening can help alleviate the blues. If you’ve been feeling down lately, or particularly stressed out, researchers from the University of Florida suggest getting more hands on with nature. Their study finds gardening helped lower stress, anxiety, and depression among a group of healthy women attending twice-weekly gardening classes. Even better, you don’t have to be an experienced gardening pro to reap the mental benefits. Each participant never gardened before taking part in the study.
Want to see if you have a green thumb? StudyFinds searched the internet for expert opinions on the best garden plants to fill your garden with first. These five are the top recommendations, but let us know if you have a favorite we missed in the comments below!
The List: Best Garden Plants, According to Experts
The Spruce writes, “This perennial is a member of the daisy family, known for its colors, lacy leaves, and reliability. Yarrow is very easy to grow in most garden soils and is available in many different cultivars. It spreads heartily and can crowd out some other plants. Yarrow grows 2 to 4 feet tall and blooms from early summer all the way into fall.”
“This hardy and versatile perennial is as carefree as it gets: Yarrow is pest-resistant, quick to spread and a major pollinator,” says Good Housekeeping. “Since it grows quickly, use it as ground cover, or to fill open meadows or large spaces. Once the red, yellow, pink or white flowers bloom, cut them (a.k.a. deadhead) when their color starts to fade to encourage more flowers to grow.”
“Yarrow is a herbaceous perennial and makes a colorful summer display in a sunny spot, producing large, flat heads made up of many tiny flowers, borne on stems above clumps of feathery leaves which are green or silvery in color. Yellow varieties predominate and there are reds and oranges too,” adds GardenersWorld.com.
Country Living explains why these blooms are all the rage: “‘In addition to being hugely popular, peonies are very easy to grow. Plants are easy to obtain, thrive in nearly every climate, and can live for over 100 years if cared for properly.’ —Erin Benzakein, author of Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden.”
“Plant peonies in spring or fall, in full sun or in morning sun and afternoon shade in very hot summer regions. Plant the eyes, or growing points, 2 inches deep in cold regions and 1 inch deep in warmer ones. Peonies need well-drained soil mixed with compost or other organic materials. Work in a little fertilizer at planting and then apply organic, all-purpose fertilizer and top-dress with compost yearly,” adds HGTV. “Hardy in Zones 3 to 8, peonies vary in size, depending on the variety. ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ grows to 3 feet high and wide. Herbaceous peonies die to the ground in the fall; cut any remaining plant parts to the ground and discard them. Divide in fall, if desired, but dividing is not necessary.”
“One of the most common perennials, peonies make elegant cut flowers. The beautiful blooms come back every year. They have a sweet scent and large, beautiful flowers that are most commonly pink but can also be white, red, orange or yellow,” mentions Good Housekeeping.
Veranda states, “Though its dozens of bell-shaped flowers are short-lived, the daylily’s mounds of green foliage make it a solid edging plant choice for spring through fall. Plant lots of varieties for a long-term display of color. This popular perennial mixes well with any palette.”
“Perennial daylilies are available in tall or short, compact varieties and bloom in shades of yellow, red, pink, purple and white. In mild winter climates, some daylily foliage stays evergreen or semi-evergreen,” adds Home Depot. “Some will bloom continuously for as long as four weeks. Daylilies are hardy in zones 3 to 8, depending on the variety.”
“Affectionally called the ‘perfect perennial,’ Daylilies survive through almost anything — fluctuating temperatures, irregular watering and so on. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, so you can find the right option to suit your garden or landscaping. And while each stem grows several flowers, keep in mind the buds only bloom for one day,” writes Good Housekeeping.
4. Ornamental Grass
House Beautiful says, “Wild grass draws the eye up in a garden and creates movement as it swishes back and forth in the wind. These tall beauties prefer direct sunlight (and lots of it). They have grown in popularity over the years because they are easy to care for and grow quickly. Each species of grass has different growth requirements so read the tag before you plant any seeds.”
“Ornamental grasses add color and movement to the landscape. We like ‘Karl Foerster’, an herbaceous grass with reddish-brown, feathery stalks that turn golden-brown to buff in fall. ‘Karl Foerster’ is hardy in Zones 4 to 9,” notes HGTV. “Plant this ornamental grass in full sun or in light shade in hot summer climates, in rich, moist soil. Once established, it tolerates some drought. It grows 18 to 24 inches high and wide with stalks that can reach 6 feet. Cut the foliage to the ground in late winter. In Zones 4 to 5, plant in spring. In Zones 6 to 9, plant in spring in full sun to light shade. In all zones, mulch after the first frost.”
“Keep these low-growers in mind for edgings, borders and ground covers. There are tons of grasses to choose from: Opt for Carex Evergold to add a vibrant yellow hue, or Blue Fescue to complement the blues and purples in your garden,” writes Good Housekeeping.
According to Family Handyman, “A mainstay in shade gardens for decades, hosta still manages to attract new fans each year. And why not? The range of sizes, colors and variegations is staggering and makes hostas among the most popular landscape plant ideas. There is simply a hosta for everyone. No need to stick with the tried-and-true green varieties—not when there are chartreuse, blue and wildly variegated varieties at the ready. Some have small leaves, others large. All offer flowers in summer, but it’s the foliage that people love. Hosta is hardy in Zones 3 to 9.”
“Looking for low maintenance and lots of options? Leafy hosta plants can thrive almost anywhere—best in Zones 2 through 10, no matter the level of sunlight—making this groundcover an easy choice for yards with plenty of shade,” adds Bob Vila. “Just water in the morning to prevent its green, gold, or variegated leaves from burning, and keep it hydrated throughout the day as needed. Once established, watch this lush plant become a regular landscape addition, returning year after year.”
“Hostas are grown mainly for their bold and handsome leaves in many subtle variations including greens, glaucous blue, and variegated with white or yellow markings. Flowers are also borne in summer, but foliage is the main attraction. Hostas thrive in full or partial shade and prefer moisture-retentive soil. However, they do have the drawback of being attractive to slugs and snails: they eat holes in the leaves and although rarely kill plants, do make the leaves unattractive. Hostas also do well in pots, where it’s easier to protect plants from slugs,” points out GardenersWorld.com.
You might also be interested in:
- House Beautiful
- Bob Vila
- The Spruce
- Country Living
- Good Housekeeping
- Family Handyman
- Home Depot
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