5 Easy to Grow Plants No Garden Should Be Without! (The Friday Fives)

This year I thought I’d try to start something on each Friday.  At the end of each work week I’ll make a list of five things from the garden.  They could be anything, everything is fair garden, as long as it can be related to the garden!  To start things off I’m going to mention 5 easy to grow plants that no garden should be without!

See if you agree!


My monarch butterfly friend here will agree with me that zinnias in the garden are essential!  Zinnias are annuals but are very easy to grow.  Most of the time I just sprinkle the seed where I want them to grow, water, then wait.  I’ve never had pest problems with my zinnias but have experienced the powdery mildew issue.  It’s a fungus that attacks the plants in hot and humid conditions (which we are blessed with every summer here in TN). 

Persian Carpet Zinnia

Despite this issue zinnias feed a whole bunch of pollinators and attract the butterflies and are well worth planting because of how easy they grow.  To reduce the powdery mildew sow the seeds far enough apart to allow the mature plants to have good air flow.


Cosmos – pink

I like cosmos for many of the same reasons I like zinnias.  I sow them the same, treat them the same, but don’t have nay issues with powdery mildew!  They self-sow prolifically so chances are once you’ve planted them you’ll have them for a long time.  Plant cosmos near your vegetable garden to encourage the beneficial insects to visit your vegetable garden area.  There’s an array of colors available – so go pick one!


Heuchera ‘Silver Scrolls’

I can’t have a list like this without the heuchera.  In fact it would appear on several possible lists like the awesome foliage list, the drought tolerant list, the deer tolerant list, and I could go on!  Heucheras are great plants for dry shady locations and here in the summer we have a dry periods on a regular basis.  Their foliage varies from shades of green to purple.  Heuchera are also called coral bells but whatever they are called these perennials deserve a spot in your garden!


There are so many easy to grow forms of salvia from the annual self-sowing types like Salvia coccinea to the perennial standards like ‘May Night’.  I like them all!  Salvia lyrata self-sows and makes a great ground cover, ‘Caradonna’ is awesome for its dark colored flower stalks, Autumn sage is a nice woody sub-shrub, and reallt there are too many to mention in this post.  In 2011 I added ‘Purple Rain’ Salvia verticillata and ‘Hot Lips’ Salvia macrophylla.


People get confused between catnip and catmint all the time.  Right now someone is thinking “that may be a nice plant but I don’t need any more cats in my garden so I shouldn’t plant catmint.”  In my experience catmint does not attract cats, but even if it did attracting cats is great way to reduce your rodent pest population!  But Enough about cats, catmint has beautiful blue-purple flowers that bloom prolifically throughout the summer. It withstands drought, doesn’t need much care after it is established, propagates easily, and smells great when it’s leaves are brushed by in the garden. Catmint can also fill in large areas of your garden if you let it!

So what do you think?  Are these five essential?  Or do you have an essential five plants for your garden? 

18 thoughts on “5 Easy to Grow Plants No Garden Should Be Without! (The Friday Fives)”

  1. Happy New Year Dave! I have all of these except the last one….And thanks for the timely issue on the Heuchera. I dug mine up and put them in the greenhouse without a clue on how to treat them.

  2. I agree that the heuchera are special. Mine look like a fresh garden salad right now in my zone 5b garden. Stays nice all winter. I may need to try the cosmos and zinnia seed come spring – please come, spring!

  3. I definitely agree with the zinnias, cosmos, and salvia! Such easy care, beautiful flowers! I haven't quite warmed up to heuchera – I think I'm waiting for the perfect cultivar to call my name. I might have to try catmint if it's that easy to grow – it looks so pretty!

  4. Happy 2012, Dave!! I love your choices – they're good ones. I have only two, however… due to the fact that my "sunny spots" are limited. 🙂 I have the catmint and heuchera. Couldn't be without them for sure.

    My five sunny plants include monarda, rudbeckia, and joe-pye weed, asclepias purpurea, echinacia … plus a couple of others! ;-o

  5. Happy New Year Darla! You shouldn't have to do anything special with your heuchera in the winter. Just leave it sit to enjoy the weather!


    It sure is nice to have something that retains its foliage like the heucheras isn't it? The cosmos and zinnias are well worth the "trouble"!


    There are tons of heucheras to choose from. There are some plant developers working on larger, more showy flowers too. You'll find one eventually!




    Happy 2012 back to you! Shady areas might be a drawback for several of these. Of course that brings up another potential list of five for later! Those are some good sunny ones you mention!

  6. I'm adding this to my favorites, and I'm excited about your new Friday series. I have a feeling it's going to be a big help as I see what comes up in my new east TN garden.

  7. Catmint is a great one to grow…it's a beautiful plant with a great rounded mounding habit. However, the second and third years, it can get huge. I always divide mine after the second year, and as a result, I've got about five plants, all from the one I bought years ago!

    However, it definitely does attract cats, but only when it first pops up in the spring. I've noticed neighborhood cats coming over and rolling around in ours, whereas we never have cats in our yard normally.

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