Are there any NO maintenance plants/flowers that I won't be able to kill?

(46 Posts)
Kaloobear Fri 03-Aug-12 09:08:34

I am a hopeless, hopeless gardener. I have managed to kill spider plants. I don't water enough, or I water too much, or I don't give them enough sunshine, or I give them too much-I kill everything.


We've recently moved house and have actual outdoor space for the first time. I need to tackle the garden but I thought I could start by getting some pots and something very resilient for the front of the house. (Which gets sun in the morning if that makes a difference.)

Is there anything out there I can plant and then basically forget about and it will survive and flower and be pretty? Or something that's so easy to look after that even I can't mess it up?

<desperate emoticon>

BedHog Fri 03-Aug-12 09:14:34

Some kind of bush would be easiest I guess. They pretty much look after themselves. Or a beach style garden with ornamental grasses. Or you could always buy plastic plants!!

EauRouge Fri 03-Aug-12 09:26:07

Buddleia? All you have to do is cut it down once a year. Same with lavender. I have loads of alyssum that I don't do anything with. Also have day lilies and red hot poker that seem to be OK being ignored.

Andifnotnow Fri 03-Aug-12 09:29:48

Bouddleia is definitely my choice. Seen it growing on roofs and railway bridges. Whatever you do to it cannot be worse!!!!!

Kaloobear Fri 03-Aug-12 10:39:14

Right, buddleia is my choice! Thank you. I'm off to buy a pot and some soil and seeds. I'm actually excited!

icecold Fri 03-Aug-12 13:25:21

Lavender, rosemary, rhoddedendron.....

These are the ones that have survived my special gardening gift, which we have in common [from]

icecold Fri 03-Aug-12 13:25:55

grin not from!

Abzs Fri 03-Aug-12 13:43:12

I have killed both lavender and rosemary. Sage and thyme are hardier and have quite pretty flowers (and are tasty).

Buddleia, dogwood and fuschia bushes have all survived my attacks with secateurs.

The indestructable plants in my garden are wild strawberries, violets, ox-eye daisies, aquilegia, campion, crocosmia and geranium. They spread and self seed and sometimes have to be ripped out by the armful, but I don't think you can kill them by accident.

Rhododendron. I have actively tried to kill mine, several times, and the ugly bastard just won't die. I have no trouble killing everything else.

Lavender is quite delicate I think, certainly hard to from from seed.

Kaloobear Fri 03-Aug-12 13:54:04

This is great, keep em coming! Maybe I can kit my entire garden out with indestructible plants and just watch the jungle grow over the years...

There's something out there that I'm sure is a blackberry/raspberry/some kind of berry bush. It's got white flowers at the mo and a few little berries that are currently green but look like they'll change colour. It's quite exciting waiting to see what it's going to be! Also, the tree at the bottom of the garden has apples on it. Apples! I feel like I've discovered gold. Looks like the previous owners were better gardeners than me!

EauRouge Fri 03-Aug-12 14:00:18

I tried to kill two lavender plants by hacking them down to the ground and they came back healthier than ever, and they seed all over the place. Maybe it depends on the variety.

There are lots of things that will self-seed like nigella, opium poppies, valerian etc but they take over if you're not careful. If you don't want to do loads of gardening then you might prefer some perennials that won't get too thuggish.

Abzs Fri 03-Aug-12 15:18:30

I believe the lavender and rosemary froze to death. It does get quite cold up here usually (not this year obviously, it's been a fairly steady 10-15 since last october).

Forget me nots. Self seed copiously and if you pull them up after flowering (when they get scraggy), all you are doing is thinning them for next year's crop's benefit.

Cotoneaster. Fennel (bronze is nice). Bleeding heart bush (dicentra) - I killed a nice white one, but there was a traditional pink one in my garden when I moved in that I have never coddled, and it comes back every year better than ever.

Also stick in a load of bulbs (daffs, tulips, crocuses etc). If you plant them at the right depth, in the right soil, and remember where they are, they'll survive for years and years with no help (just don't cut off the green leaves after flowering as they need the leaves to feed the bulb for the following year).

Geraniums (hardy ones like Johnson's Blue, not pelargoniums)

MrsJohnDeere Fri 03-Aug-12 15:42:00

Better in the ground than in pots, but my 'survivors' are bamboo (non- invasive), cotoneaster, violets, aquilegias, wisteria, clematis, miscanthus, dicentra, buddliea.
You could stick in lots of daffodils and wallflowers now for a lovely display on the spring.

Lavender and rosemary are trick dry easy to kill ime.

Re pots - you'll have to remember to water them!

2-3 big ones is easier (and more effective) than 10 little ones - you can put more than one plant in each pot to get a nice effect.

I find the best thing is to put each pot on a saucer (make sure pot has holes in bottom). Water pot till the saucer fills. Don't ever re-water till saucer has emptied (stops you over-watering).

If pot has dried out but plant isn't dead, put pot in sink, fill sink with water, and leave pot to steep for a couple of hours (till it no longer floats and soil is nice and wet).

I agree that pots aren't a great idea, at least if you're a lazy plant loving but neglectful gardener like me!

I can recommend the following, planted out in the (sunnier) beds in my garden and surviving with precisely no input:

Valerian, knautia, carnations (I'm growing Mrs Sinkins for the first time and it's flowering prolifically and smells amazing), bergenia, verbena, bronze fennel, alchemilla mollis.

Sedum's fantastic - gives you loads of autumn colour and winter interest from the dead heads, and is also unbelievably easy to grow on from cuttings (even I have done it with huge success!).

Most of these have evergreen foliage, to stop the bed looking empty in the winter.

Climbers that seem to be doing well despite my non-green fingers are honeysuckle of all types, and a clematis armandii (but the other clematis did die, admittedly!).

Evergreen bushes: choisya ternata, choisya aztec pearl, cistus monspeliensis (rock rose, by less wordy name!).

Apologies for the lengthy list - I got a bit excited about my lovely garden writing them all down while looking out of the window grin

Kaloobear Fri 03-Aug-12 20:52:37

The reason I was thinking pots is that the previous owner told me the ground in the garden is very 'clay-y' and difficult to grow things in. Now, bearing in mind I have no idea what 'clay-y' really means (has a lot of clay in, I'm guessing, but how that affects plants I mean!) I thought I could just buy soil to put in pots...can you do that? Or can I do something to the soil in the garden to make it more amenable? Or does it matter anyway? Maybe some plants like clay?!

You're all being so helpful, especially given quite how thick I am with regards to this stuff. I feel like I'm starting to learn a new language from scratch!

MrsJohnDeere Fri 03-Aug-12 20:58:25

My garden is clay. Most things grow just fine. No good for carrots grin

Pots are much more effort, because you have to water them, and plants grow far better in soil. If in pots they soon exhaust all the nutrients in the compost.

Yup, all the plants I just listed are growing in clay grin Unless the soil's really compacted, you should be fine.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Fri 03-Aug-12 21:50:54

Roses love clay. If you get a disease-resistant variety - browse the David Austin website - it should last for years with just a bit of judicious pruning from time to time.

Lucyellensmum99 Fri 03-Aug-12 21:54:19

plastic ones?

Jasmine. Ours is indestructible (and we've tried to kill it twice!)
It survives everything and looks lovely at the moment

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Fri 03-Aug-12 22:11:15

Oh and join the gardening club thread, where we share our gardening triumphs and disasters (and drink virtual gin in the virtual potting shed).

dinkystinky Fri 03-Aug-12 22:15:42

In our case, lavendar (plant in the sun so it thrives), chives (nothing but nothing will kill it), parsley (again in sun and thrives like no-one's business) and mint (in a pot or spreads everywhere) and jasmine (in pots in shadetied up to lattice) work well despite my total gardening ineptitude

stleger Fri 03-Aug-12 22:54:24

I have most of the things mentioned confused, as everything else has mysteriously failed to thrive. Next summer, get a few packets of nasturtium seeds if you have gaps to fill. Slugs don't seem to eat them.

Abzs Sat 04-Aug-12 19:35:23

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud - unless there are deer. Deer love the taste of roses...

Kaloobear Sat 04-Aug-12 19:59:56

No deer, though if there were they could eat the whole garden and I wouldn't mind. <wistfully longing for an estate in the country>

I went to Barnitts today armed with your advice and have come back with various packets of seeds, a small trowel and some gloves. I feel like a real gardener grin

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Sat 04-Aug-12 20:15:59

Ah yes. Being a very urban gardener I don't have to think about or contend with deer. Would they even eat the thorniest roses?

Abzs Sun 05-Aug-12 00:00:30

They don't eat the thorny bits. Just the nice new growth. My roses have been reduced to thorny sticks. It took me ages to figure out what was eating them, I saw a colleagues garden with the same problem and he'd seen the deer eating his.

ninah Sun 05-Aug-12 00:03:37

yy to clematis, I thought mine was a weed to begin with and pulled it up but somehow it kept coming back

CuttedUpPear Sun 05-Aug-12 01:14:40

Lavender will not do well in a clay soil. Waterlogging over the winter will kill it off.

Before you start planting you need to dig organic matter into your soil wherever possible. Otherwise you'll just be throwing your money away. Well rotted manure or spent compost is ideal.
It's really worth doing this first to avoid wasting your money and time.

Kaloobear Sun 05-Aug-12 07:39:15

What's spent compost? I don't know where I'd get manure-we're not near any farms or anything. Or do garden centres sell it? We don't have any beds at the mo, just very bumpy lawn with some weeds/bushes at some points round the edges.

CuttedUpPear Sun 05-Aug-12 13:16:40

Spent compost is the stuff you throw away when repotting plants.
Manure is sold at some garden centres, but if you're going down that route then you might as well buy some sacks of soil improver (which is just rotted mulch really). Buy whatever is cheapest, and plenty of it.

A clay soil can be a really good base for creating good soil. It is full of good minerals. If you put the work in to break it up and create good drainage you'll always have healthy plants.

Dig with a fork (never a spade) and go as deep as you can, turning the soil over and incorporating your choice of organic matter as you go. Mixing in some horticultural grit might be a good idea too.

Basically you are making a big loose crumble mix, like you would in the kitchen. Keep turning over and mixing until you don't have any big clay lumps there.
Dig deep so that you don't leave a poorly draining layer just below the plants roots.

Kaloobear Sun 05-Aug-12 15:38:33

That has given me an idea. There's a big patch on the lawn where there isn't much grass but there are loads of weeds where the previous owner had a shed that he took with him. Maybe I can dig that up and have it as a sort of 'practise flower bed'. I'll see what I can keep alive, really focus on that one bit of the garden and then go from there, depending on how I do. At the moment it's awful to look at so I can't make it much worse, and it's sort of a ready made bed shape anyway. And if it all goes tits up I can dig up whatever I've planted and just let it go back to grass...

I'm going to need a big fork!

My pot has survived the night by the way grin

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Sun 05-Aug-12 15:52:21

After some initial digging-in to improve the soil structure, you may find it's enough to put a good layer of compost/manure on the soil and leave the worms to do the work of pulling it down into the soil. It's worked for me on very heavy clay soil - the difference that year after year of composted bark has made is incredible.

funnyperson Mon 06-Aug-12 01:17:18

Have you got heavy clay then?

What worked for me was the mint which spread everywhere. When I eventually got round to gardening the mint roots had broken up the soil and I removed a lot of it (and most of the nettles) and dug in loads of leaf mould. And now I dig in compost every time I plant something. And I dig really deep wide holes to plant into (not the minimum like I used to).
My compost is a combination of heavy clay soil I have dug out to plant things plus autumn leaves plus grass clippings plus well rotted horse manure from a bag.
I dont put other fancy stuff from prunings etc in it because I'm scared I might spread weeds/fungus because it has been so damp.
Now my plants survive and occasionally I even get flowers!
So the mint turned out to be very friendly.

EauRouge Mon 06-Aug-12 11:08:59

I couldn't even get the mint to grow in parts of my clay soil, I've got some real boggy patches. There are loads of plants that grow well in boggy soil- some types of iris, my bergenias are doing really well, creeping jenny too but the damn stuff takes over very quickly so not really low maintenance.

Ash is also good for breaking up clay soil a bit. We also use tons of homemade compost from kitchen scraps, grass cuttings etc.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Mon 06-Aug-12 11:39:13

Our biggest mistake was double-digging, which brought a lot of solid clay to the surface. Hence my preference now for mulching and leaving the worms to it.

Olympicnmix Mon 06-Aug-12 11:47:24

hardy fuchias & lavender that do well under my neglect
daffodils and crocuses come back every year too

Am making notes too from this thread!

Olympicnmix Mon 06-Aug-12 11:52:28

Have just planted a jasmine, along with the lavender.

Where is the best place for cheap(er) plants? I have lots empty borders in my garden. I've bought 3 plants for the garden from my nursery and that was the budget gone!

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Mon 06-Aug-12 14:42:26

Best places for cheap/free plants are Freecycle, school fetes and the like. J Parker is one of the cheaper websites, although i fibd the quality very variable. Nurseries are often cheaper than garden centres, although garden centres sometimes have "pile it high, sell it cheap" deals.

Olympicnmix Mon 06-Aug-12 15:44:57

Thank you ComeIntoTheGardenMaud, I'm going to keep my eyes peeled!

nononotmyname Mon 06-Aug-12 15:49:10

Fuschia bush
Japanese anenome (sp?) - also self-seeds

Rhubarb !!

digerd Sat 08-Sep-12 21:54:32

Indestructable only applies to weeds , brambles and ivy in my garden. A brilliant yellow ground cover, that I though were buttercups, turned out to be Callendula, but that is like a weed as grows where it wants to and I can';t get rid of it - similar is creeping jenny, both brilliant yellow flowers and very low growing. Holly is indestuctable, but gets rather large . My yellow leaved jasmine in the sun is gorgeous, but getting a bit out of hand now after 10 years. The Acuba - yellow spotted laurel planted on the shady side , grows anywhere and is prunable. My Japanes Anemones are indestructable too, but need staking as tall and fall over in my garden. But the bindweed and ivy are a nightmare, especially the former, as if i don't look for a week its wound itself up one climbing rose in a shot at around 6 metres or more. It hasn't killed the rose though

higgle Sun 23-Sep-12 11:39:19

Sedum - I have one in a pot that is totally neglected and flowers beautifully every autumn. Also Sea Cotton for borders - spreads like wildfire but easy to cut back and has prolific white flowers. We have a house which we bought from new 16 years ago and it is only now that the soil is good enough to sustain plant life.

bumperella Tue 16-Oct-12 23:21:20

If you've clay, then (like me) roses, aquilegia, alchemela mollis, peonies will all do well. Silvery-leaved things (eg sentolina, lavendar) will not. Nor will bulbs. Nor meditarranean herbs. Boo!
definitely spend some time and effort on soil improvement - autumn planting not the best on clay as roots get cold and wet over the winter. Don't dig it when it's very wet - in fact, don't even think about digging it when it's very wet. It ruins the spoil structure and is knackering.

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