Do you have a hard time remembering what to do and when to do it for your plants? There are a number of plants both for the yard and the house that prefer a little neglect!!!

          Practically all newly transplanted ones as well as baby seedlings need attention to get started. Native plants who are accustomed to changeable Nebraska weather adjust the easiest in your yard.  These are the plants I put along the driveway or between the sidewalk and the street-sometimes called the “hell strip”. Some prefer good soil but little attention while others prefer poor soil or they refuse to bloom.  An example of this is the NASTURTIUM (Tropaeslum species). With fertilizer they will grow lots of leaves but few flowers and too much water encourages root rot.  They don’t like to be transplanted so start seeds where you want them. Some climb after you get them started or they will crawl around as a ground cover, or droop down in hanging containers.  Plant their seeds in full sun. To help start them nick the seeds so water can get in.  Some people like the leaves in salads, others like to pickle the buds or use the petals to spiff up their salads.  Aphids like them but lady bugs like to eat aphids!!!

          If you have a hot, dry place such as the west side of a brick garage and a few rocks you have an ideal home for hen and chickens. They have fat leaves to store water and were grown on roofs to resist fire.  They can be moved at any time but must not have water standing on their roots.  Arrange your rocks and pour gravely soil over the rocks to plant them in to insure drainage.  Most are hardy to zone 4 and prefer sun or partial shade and may have red edges, some with white hairs (the cobweb like). The blooms are rather tall and may flop so I quite often cut them off.  The mother plant may die after flowering but will be surrounded by “chickens”. One of my favorite slides is a big, full sized barrel of soil with many holes from which HENS AND CHICKENS grow.

          Be cautious where you start GRAPE HYACINTHS!!! They are little and easy to plant, they are not expensive, and a bright color very early in the spring, and they will fill your space with little effort.  A number of years ago I planted 25 bulbs.  Now I may have a thousand. The bulbs divide into thick clumps and they must also seed, as I find them far from the original clumps.  At least twice in these years, I have spaded their territory and turned them over. No matter, there is that blue patch every spring.  They die back after flowering but appear again in late fall.  Probably the only bad thing you could do is to keep their feet wet.

          A big shrub I have for the no-work category is the AMERICAN CRANBERRY VIBURNUM (Viburnum trilobum). It needs a lot of space but little work, and will grow in light shade or full sun.  Storms have been hard on mine as parts of trees broke it off.  No matter it responded by growing many more stems.  It is covered with white, flat flower clusters in spring that are followed by red berries for the birds.  Reaching 12 feet high and wide, I cut it to the ground and its answer was to get thicker and taller and more berries. Growing just south of the patio, it protects the patio from the street, and since my bird feeders are on the patio, it produces many perches and hiding places for Juncos, and sparrows.  In summer a fall blooming CLEMATIS climbs on and around its top branches.  I have never watered it, sprayed for bugs, or fertilized.  What more could you ask?

          LARKSPUR (Consolida ambigua) is an annual that reseeds itself every year after you have planted it once.  It likes full sun and reseeds itself in late fall.  No amount of Nebraska winter bothers those tiny plants that may get up to 3 inches.  They are so thick I usually drag a rake through in both directions in spring to thin out. Blue is the primary color in several shades from very dark to almost white.  There is a pink, not as vigorous, that I try to encourage and buy a package of seed occasionally to increase its numbers.  It will grow about 3 feet tall, is an annual form of Delphinium (which is a perennial) but isn’t as easily bent over or broken off.  Some years I put a fence around the edge which supports the outer ones who hold up the inner ones.  They do not like very hot weather and blooms will not last long.  They do last well in water in a vase. LARKSPUR doesn’t like to be transplanted so get your seeds out in the fall.  I usually have an extra quart of seed each fall and can “rotate my crop” every year or so.  Next time you are near one, hold up the stem and you can find a row of rabbits formed by the buds.  They turn brown soon after flowering so I pull them up and the mallow zebrina comes up in days to give me fall bloom. Zebrina is a dwarf HOLLYHOCK and blooms till freezing so I cut them off and lo!! The larkspurs are up.

          MAGIC LILIES (Lycoris squamigera) is also known as Naked Lady, and Surprise Lily because they come up suddenly in late summer with no leaves just tall blooms about 2 feet long after you have forgotten you planted them. Actually what happened, in early spring some JONQUIL looking foliage came up and never did bloom and then suddenly dropped dead. That was the foliage.  This makes it very easy to dig into them during their dormant time. If you can, mark where they were planted so you don’t destroy the bulbs. They like slightly acid to nearly neutral pH and will do well in either sun or partial shade.  Just plant and let them alone.  They don’t like to be moved so will pout for a year or two if you do.  I see many clumps around Lincoln that will slowly get bigger.  Just as the foliage is dying down is best time to move.  Most people I know never bought a bulb.  They are passed around.  I have never heard of rabbits liking them. 

          Actually there are many plants for the lazy gardener. Look for them at your favorite garden center.

Copyright 2013