These plants conserve water and add pops of color for curb appeal.
Colors: White, pink, yellow, and variegated
Tip: These hardy plants grow in tangled, 3-foot-high mounds that make them look like shrubs. The big, trumpet-shaped flowers open in late afternoon and are fragrant into the evening, so plant them along walkways and exterior doors.
Colors: Bright red, blue, pink, purple, yellow, variegated, and white (rare)
Tip: There are more than 250 species of penstemon, so check for varieties well-adapted to your locale. Some species attract hummingbirds. Beard tongue tolerates low water, but needs good soil drainage. When shopping, “penstemon” is more commonly used than “beard tongue.”
Colors: Pinkish petals and a magenta center; there are white and orange versions, too
Tip: Tough and tall, coneflowers grow in clumps and look good at the backs of beds and borders. Blooms generally last all through summer. Don’t cut the seed heads of these perennial flowers after fall frosts — finches like them for winter snacks.
Colors: One of the most-hybridized of all flowers, daylilies come in dozens of colors; deep orange is classic
Tips: Daylilies are virtually trouble-free, and will grow in all soil and moisture conditions; they’re good confidence-builders for rookie gardeners. Once established, they spread and multiply by tuberous underground roots.
Colors: Blue, purple (lavender!), occasionally white and pink
Tips: Fragrant lavender grows in loose sprays of spikes tipped with little clusters of flowers, and are good in informal gardens. Most varieties attract bees and butterflies. They tolerate poor soil and neglect, even preferring sand and gravel to organic mulch.
Tips: Bluebeard is prized for its consistently blue color and mounding, 3- to 4-foot-tall forms that can anchor your landscape plan. Cut them nearly to the ground in late winter to encourage fresh, healthy growth the following year.
Tips: Drought-tolerant after they’re established, rhodos need ample water to get started. They also like their soil well-adjusted and well-drained, so checking for soil pH and other nutrients is helpful before planting. They prefer filtered — not direct — sunlight. There are over 800 varieties in all sizes; ask your local nursery what works in your region.
Tips: Tough little spirea isn’t fussy about watering or soil conditions, which makes it perfect for less-than-perfect gardeners. At 2-3 feet high, they’re good as foundation cover. The lacy blossoms appear early and are great mixers in bouquets; cut back after the first bloom to get a second bloom in late summer.
Tips: Big, globular flower clusters characterize this garden favorite. Once established, hydrangea needs little care, but be sure to water regularly the first year or two. Their color is affected by soil pH — acidic soils produce blue flowers; neutral to alkaline pH yields pinks and reds (white varieties stay white).
Tips: Noted for their height (3 feet) and upright stance, snapdragons are a garden favorite of children. They’ll tolerate low watering, but they prefer loose, well-drained soil that’s rich with compost.