Today: Jun 05 , 2020

7 Plants You Almost Can't Kill

Want a foolhardy garden? This column is for you.

  • Indestructible garden plants.   
  • Flowers even animals can't kill.  
  • June is the month of perennial flowers. 
  • Perennial flowers that will grow in spite of you! 

Every garden needs a few plants that can handle whatever abuse we throw their way. That’s not to say we should be needlessly tough on them, but let’s face it, there are times when we are unable to summon the time and/or energy to water.  Also, there are places in every garden that present less than ideal growing conditions, and years when the weather mocks gardeners despite all of our efforts. For those and so many more times when our gardens must rise to the challenges of neglect, here are some (almost) indestructible plants.

Black-eyed Susan ~ This hardy Plains plant grabs hold of soil and takes whatever nutrition it needs. It’s really pretty amazing how much this knee-high bloomer does on such little care and feeding. Like other coneflower-type perennials, black-eyed Susan has a proclivity to form a thick mat of roots. I recommend dividing these every few years, while you can still get a spade through them.  Go ahead, try to kill this plant; it will only seed more and spread like any native bloomer in the wild.

Coneflower  ~ If you’ve ever tried to divide a large clump of coneflowers you know what a wicked root system these plants produce. Coneflowers are a great choice for controlling erosion. The roots weave together in a mat that holds soil in place while supporting the entire clump. The newer varieties are beautiful and even more tempting for mountain gardens. If you want an unflappable plant for poor soil and full sun, here’s your winner.

Daylily  ~ It wasn’t so long ago that daylilies were the darlings of the plant world. Every year saw the introduction of numerous new cultivars, all hoping to be the next Stella d’Oro. Now many gardeners have grown weary of them and want to replace them with the next new darling of flowering plants.  But, before you lift your spade, consider why the daylily became popular in the first place. Nothing fazes this plant! Oh sure, there’s the odd slug or thrip, but on the whole, daylilies can handle drought, flood, neglect, just about everything, even javelinas and rabbits. If you have a hot, sunny bed where nothing is happy, give daylilies serious consideration.

Hosta - Just about every older home has hostas somewhere on its property. Long before they were the darlings of plant breeders, they were the go-to plant for home owners who wanted something that looked good all season without any nurturing. Not only do hostas thrive without attention, they seem to live forever.  Hostas look their best when planted in shade. 

Peony ~ This extremely low maintenance plant resents being fussed over.  These plants can live for decades and never need dividing.  Deer, javelinas, rabbits, packrats, and the rest of our garden vermin find this perennial utterly detestable.  This plant likes more air than water at its roots, so make sure your garden plot drains, and drains well.  Peonies bloom like crazy in raised beds and in containers.

Sedum  ~ Thick, juicy stems shoot up early in spring and remain attractive all season.  Many of the hardy varieties are evergreen and for those that aren't, by the time they get cut back there’s already new growth at their base. The many varieties are succulents, so they don't need supplemental water; yet, hey can hardly wait until spring to emerge.

Yucca ~ Don’t turn your back on this mountain native. Yucca doesn’t get a lot of respect in the gardening world, but that’s not going to cause it to disappear. Those spiky leaves fend off intruders and the long tap root anchors it deep in the soil and makes moving it (or killing it) very difficult. Talk about a xeric plant!  If the common species is too coarse for you, try one of the variegated varieties. They’re almost as tough, just as architectural, and they deliver a long season of color. 

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Summer 2018 Watters Garden Classes

Watters holds Garden Classes on Saturdays at 9:30 AM in the morning FREE for our gardening friends. Each session will last approximately 1 hour. If you can't attend a class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Facebook Page to be notified when we go Live.

June 16 – Firewise Landscaping – Beautiful AND Safe

We can have a beautiful landscape while still protecting our homes from wildfires. Learn what “defensible space” is, how to make your landscaping more resistant to fire, and which plants are considered firewise. Some plants are more flammable than others, and some plants can even mitigate fire! By choosing the right ones, we can diminish the possibility of fire, while still having a landscape that enhances our homes.


June 23 – Landscapes that Add Beauty and Value

Did you know that that the right landscaping can increase your home value by more than 10%? Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of a typical household's energy for heating and cooling. Ken Lain will take students on a journey that adds personality and value back into the landscape. As the monsoons approach this is an ideal season to change the look-and-feel of your yard. Students learn tree placement, privacy techniques, ground covers, erosion control, inspirational bloomers and more!


June 30 – Totally Tomatoes: Grow the Best!

The first fruits are appearing in the garden! Yes, we will go deep on all things tomato, but the same advice applies to the rest of the garden as well. Students learn which varieties work best for their growing conditions and garden space, bugs to watch for, diseases, companion plants, and garden advice that increases the harvest this year.


July 7 - Attract Birds, Bees & Butterflies

Monarchs, Swallowtails, and bees are in trouble, but we can help! This class goes into all the details of how to help the local natives by providing habitat and nourishment. Because they like so many of the same plants, hummingbirds are simply a bonus to this class. Learn the best local trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses that naturally bring the best wildlife.


July 14 – Great Grapes for the Garden

Grapes are not only delicious in many different types of foods and wines, they can be used as beautiful privacy screens and garden accents. Join guest instructor and self-proclaimed “Grape Nerd” Viticulturist Nikki Bagley for a fun and information packed class on the best practices for caring for grapes in your garden. Learn what varieties will work best for you, and how to make your vines more vigorous and fruit more fantastic. Students might even learn a thing or two about wine!


July 21 – Containers that Bloom like Crazy!

Contain yourself! The right container with the right plants can bring a space in the landscape from so-so to stunning. Lisa Lain, owner of Watters Garden Center, has been creating container designs for decades. After this class, you'll have what it takes to design great container gardens that sparkle in the afternoon heat or the breezy shade. Learn about proper watering, the best foods, companion plants, and more.


July 28 - Perennial Flowers – Blooms that impress

July is the ideal month to plant perennials in the yard. Students learn how to design seasonally for a continual bloom in the garden. Notable mentions will be the native and heat-loving flowers that bloom without any care at all. All local & All Free.


Aug 4 - Easy Grow Roses

There are so many different roses to choose from--more than your grandmother ever knew about! Learn the difference between hybrid tea, floribunda, shrub, carpet and so much more. Talking points include the best rose varieties, care, and placement for non-stop blooms. Free to local gardeners that want more fragrance & color in the yard.


Aug 11– Herbs from Garden to Table

Summer is the ideal time to add herbs to the garden. Special guest instructor Deborah Maranville, chef, and owner of Natural Healing Garden, knows her herbs and uses them to create health-centered food choices that focus on utilizing local produce and delicious organic food. Join Deborah for a tantalizing cooking demonstration that will focus on the best techniques to get the herbs from your garden to spice up your cooking.


Remember, if you can't attend a class, watch the Livestream on Facebook. Like our Facebook Page to be notified when we go Live.

Ken Lain, the Mountain Gardener

Ken Lain is attracted to sunshine, beauty, happiness, success and health through gardening, and wishes to point the way to others. Throughout the week Ken can be found at Watters Garden Center located at 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd, Prescott, or contacted through his web site at