Easy to Grow Plants for New Gardeners

In the past few years, a lot of new gardeners have come on the scene. Some of it has happened through boredom during the years of the pandemic, while other have come into gardening through a desire to feed their families healthy food. Many new gardeners are finding that gardening is more fun than they thought, and harder as well. But do not worry! There are a myriad of easy to grow plants for new gardeners, that will help give them confidence in gardening.

Finding those easy to grow plants is not difficult either. Most garden centers, including Grimm’s Gardens, grow and sell a variety of these plants. And we are more than willing to help new gardeners find the right plants which will not overwhelm them. I love helping customers find the right plants, whether I am working in the nursery, talking on the phone, or writing blogs.

What do I look for in an easy to grow plant? There are a number of criteria which I look for when recommending plants for beginners.

  • Easy to establish
  • No major pest or disease issues
  • Gives satisfaction (blooms, fall color, fruit) the first season
  • Long lived
  • Low annual maintenance
  • Does not need fertilized regularly

Annual Plants for New Gardeners

Gardening satisfaction is one of the best feelings you can have. When you have planted a plant which you picked out because you liked it, and it grows and blooms, then that is so rewarding. I love having plants do what I expect from them, without me having to do much work. And because I work so much in the nursery and among people’s landscapes, sometimes the time I have available for my own gardens is lacking. I am somewhat hard on plants because of that.

So, when picking out annuals, I like to use tried and true favorites, plus all the new things that Proven Winners comes out with. But some annuals, even star ones, can be finicky, preferring more or less water, or more fertilizer. Thus, finding those near perfect performers for new gardeners is a must. Some plants just do not need as much attention.

Sun and Heat Lovers

We still have to remember Right Plant, Right Place. While I myself may test and trial plants in new ways, pushing limits, new gardeners are not going to want their plants to be stressed out. So placing easy to grow plants in their correct location will give them the best start possible. Sun and heat loving annuals should receive 4 to 8 hours of full sun per day, and can withstand some hot conditions. Following is each easy to grow plant and 1 specific characteristic that makes it worth growing.

  • Calendula – edible flowers
  • Celosia – great for cut flowers
  • Dianthus – edible flowers
  • Gomphrena – cut flowers
  • Helenium ‘Dakota Gold’ – attracts pollinators
  • Sunflowers – attracts pollinators
  • Lantana – attracts pollinators
  • Pentas – dried flowers
  • Supertunia – fills in quickly
  • Salvia – attracts hummingbirds
  • Tithonia – attracts pollinators
  • Brazilian verbena – attracts pollinators
  • Zinnia – attracts pollinators
sun annuals for new gardeners

Shade and Cool Lovers

There are not a lot of annuals for the shade garden. But for new gardeners who are trying to put together a garden in the shade, some of the perennials and shrubs do not fill in quickly enough. Therefore, adding the following shade lovers will help in those first few seasons.

  • Coleus – variety of leaf textures and colors
  • Plectranthus – offers fuzzy textures
  • Impatiens – fill in very quickly
  • Wax begonias – add color quickly
shade loving annuals

Perennials for New Gardeners

Here, the list becomes much bigger. There are a lot of perennials which new gardeners can get to bloom and fill in quickly, just by a regular watering schedule and no additional care. Right Plant, Right Place is very important, but maybe less so than with annuals. Many of our perennials will take more shade, especially late afternoon shade, than sun loving annuals. I always like to recommend a variety of natives and nativars along with aliens, because the natives will fare better in our weather extremes.

Sun and Heat Lovers

I have also included a few grasses with this list, because more of the grasses are finicky or take more maintenance than a simple cut back each season. Italicized names denote native or nativar.

dry sun perennials for new gardeners

Sun and Wet Lovers

For you new gardeners who want to overwater your plants, this list is for you. I know you are out there. If you are always thinking your plant is too dry, it needs a drink, do not plant lavender, but rather something from this list.

wet sun perennials

Shade and Cool Lovers

When you are first setting out to build up your shade garden, do not forget these favorites, all of which are easy to grow and can take some abuse, such as forgetting to water one week or accidentally dropping the shovel on the next.

shade perennials for new gardeners

Shrubs for New Gardeners

I will not dive into trees for new gardeners, because trees take more annual maintenance once established. However, I will not discourage you from trying and planting some. But you really should read as much about trees as possible before planting one. Besides getting to placement just right, there are problems with plastic pots versus bags versus bareroot. Then there is staking, mulching, and watering. And do not forget about pruning. Read more here.

Shrubs on the other hand are less touchy. And unless you are planning a formal garden with sheared shrubs, they take no major pruning. Just give them the right amount of room, water, and sun, and they will be more than happy.

Sun and Heat Lovers

There are few shrubs for truly shady spots, and you can find more about them here. But the following two lists will help new gardeners pick easy to grow shrubs for the garden. As before, italicized denotes native or nativar.

dry sun shrubs for new gardeners

Sun and Wet Lovers

wet sun shrubs


Why should new gardeners not have easy access to easy to grow plants? I want you to have success in your gardening and to be successful, you need to start at the bottom and work your way to the top, trying new plants as you gain in skill levels. It is just like walking, you do not start out sprinting before you crawl.

Happy planting!

author of plants for new gardeners

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