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7 min read

What Plants Should You Use to Design a Maintenance-Free Flowerbed?

Maintenance-Free Flowerbed
Maintenance-Free Flowerbed

7 min read

What Plants Should You Use to Design a Maintenance-Free Flowerbed?

LandscapingWhat Plants Should You Use to Design a Maintenance-Free Flowerbed?

Planting season is upon us yet again but you still don’t know which evergreen shrub or perennials to get to design a low-maintenance flowerbed? In this article, you’ll find essential tips and tricks, as well as techniques for setting up your flower patch and keeping up with an eco-friendly battle against insect pests.

Designing a Maintenance-Free Flowerbed: How to Pick the Right Plants

Maintenance-Free Flowerbed

Disease-Resistant Plants 

So-called “disease-resistant” plants have specific genetic characteristics that render their interaction with pathogenic agents incompatible, meaning that the plant’s resources won’t be exploited for the benefit of the pathogens, potentially resulting in the following: 

  • Delayed growth

  • Development issues

  • Damaged organs

  • Diminished seed production  

In reality, said resistance depends on several factors: 

  • The plant itself (genetics)

  • Pathogenic agents (genetics)

  • Environment

  • Humankind’s actions   

Adaptability to Different Weather Conditions

The secret to a resistant flowerbed may rest in using plants that are in precarious situations given Quebec’s weather. Why? Because researchers believe they create a sort of “umbrella effect” with other common species. 

Indeed, their region-specific rare genetics serve to protect common species by providing functions the latter don't possess. Quebec accounts for 409 species, such as ferns, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. 

Therefore, you can fill your garden with flowers that can already withstand harsh weather conditions.


In the last 104 years, the summer of 2023 was recorded as the warmest in Quebec. The good news is that several plants indigenous to Quebec need limited amounts of water and don’t necessarily require much shade. This is especially true with grasses. 

Given their great variety, you can select plants based on their size and colour, as well as whether you want to forgo the use of a watering system.

Infrequent Pruning

For maintenance-free flowerbeds, you have to look for plants that don’t need to be pruned. In terms of plants, certain shrubs stand out from the lot, such as honeysuckles. Some perennials will work perfectly fine too, such as those mentioned earlier.  

10 Perennials or Annuals to Use for a Maintenance-Free Flowerbed

Maintenance-Free Flowerbed

1. Hydrangeas

Hortensias are part of the hydrangea genus. They’re common plants found everywhere in Quebec. Their advantages, you ask? 

  • Hardiness 

  • Prolonged blooming period

  • Pretty flowers

  • Easy to cultivate

  • Diversified 

Solely in the hydrangea family, there’s the Blushing Bride, Bluebird, Cityline Berlin, and Cityline® Mars. 

2. Begonias

Pink, red, or white, begonia flowers brighten up any maintenance-free garden. Also available in the shape of tuberous begonias, the latter can survive winter, provided that they're positioned in cool but not glacial areas.  

3. Gazanias 

With a striking resemblance to daisies, Gazania flowers close their petals once nightfall comes. And, since they're annuals, they can be replanted every spring.  

4. Purpletop vervain 

The purpletop vervain is another annual plant, which is characterized by the following: 

  • Abundant blooming

  • Low maintenance

  • A butterfly favourite

  • Untouched by deer 

5. Jacques Cartier roses

The Jacques Cartier rose is disease- and cold-resistant with a striking bloom. Since it doesn’t require regular maintenance (a single pruning a year), said type of rose is perfect to adorn a maintenance-free garden.

However, much like all rose bushes, it’s prone to insect pest raids, such as the rose chafer beetle. However, beware, as the latter is unfortunately not limited to rose bushes, it also likes to snack on lilas, garden valerians, peonies, and ferns. 

6. Honeysuckles

The honeysuckle is a North American shrub that suits all situations. Whether your flowerbed is covered by shade in some areas or sun-drenched in others, the honeysuckle is all for it. With its white and yellow flowers, coupled with its slow bloom and bird-appreciated fruits, said plant will fit perfectly in your garden bed.  

7. Marvel of Peru

The marvel of Peru, also known as the four o’clock flower, strives in both sun-drenched and partly shaded areas. The flower's petals open up toward the end of the day and during overcast days, but bloom during the three months of summer.

Depending on the chosen species, it either features colours of red, pink, yellow, or white, blossoming amongst medium green foliage. 

8. Lavender 

Lavender is a plant that requires strictly no maintenance at all. As made evident by lavender fields in the Laurentides and Eastern Townships, certain lavender varieties survive the harsh and lengthy Canadian winters. However, to ensure its long-lasting lifespan, cover your lavender plants with frost blankets.

Warning: In case of intense humidity, lavender can also catch phytophthora (water moulds), which leads to the plant’s rotting and death in the span of one to two weeks. Said disease is found in the soil, where it can survive for years.

9. Azaleas

Azaleas aren’t very common here, but they do bloom a lot of beautiful flowers. Some bloom in the springtime, while others during the summer. Planted among other flowers in your flowerbed, the latter is a kind of lifeline for the former.

Come fall, their foliage turns dark red, sometimes orange-tinted or purple depending on the species in question. However, since this sort of flower thrives in humid soil during its growth period, having a sprinkler or water system in place is a must. 

10. Northern maidenhair fern

Let’s wrap up this list with the Northern maidenhair fern to reiterate that, planted amongst this rare plant, for a lasting result, the foundation of your flowerbed should rest on the diversity of the selected species.

With the Northern maidenhair fern, you won’t have tall and striking flowers, but a robust fern that does have pretty green leaves on brownish-purple- or black-tinted shiny stems. It’s the perfect way to benefit from the synergy between plants if you’re hoping to design a low-maintenance or maintenance-free garden.

Garden Flowerbed Maintenance

Maintenance-Free Flowerbed

Protect Your Plants from the Winter Cold

How can you ensure your flowerbed survives winter when you’re hoping to design a maintenance-free flower patch? The long-term answer is mineral mulch. The latter is more sustainable compared to organic mulches, which decompose. Mineral mulch instead relies on the following: 

  • River pebbles 

  • Lava stones

  • Marble chips

  • Recycled glass

  • Hydroclay balls

  • Rubber

Mineral mulch is great to even out temperatures at ground level. However, it’s not enough to face the harsh Quebec winters.

In fact, as we mentioned earlier in our lavender section, there’s another technique to be used: plant blankets. Doing so saves 80% of the plants in lavender fields from the brutal Canadian winters. It's definitely the best way to protect your plants. 

Ways to Get Your Flowerbeds Ready for Spring

For perennials enduring the long winter colds, their blooming process happens naturally, but there’s still some gardening work to be done. A tad bit before they start blooming, make sure the following is done: 

  • Dead plants are removed

  • Certain crops are renewed

  • Plants are cultivated or weeded

  • Weeds are removed

  • Certain plants are divided (garden sorrel, rhubarb, etc.) 

Dividing plants consists of digging the soil around the foot of the plants to then remove any excess plant shoots. Doing so can be useful to propagate species. To achieve successful results without damaging the plant, you can use a harvest knife. For such plants, you have to regenerate them every three to five years, meaning divide the plant with sufficient space to replant its nicest stems.

Plants in cool areas, such as begonias, which are bulb plants, bloom when exposed to the sun and are positioned in warm areas. Make sure to water them. Do so moderately at first since the plant doesn’t have its roots just yet. Then, increase the amount of water given as the plant grows, as well as the watering frequency. Next, when the plant has matured, dampen the roots and wait for the soil to dry before watering it again. 

Cleverly Planning Your Flowerbed Design

In a nutshell, designing a maintenance-free garden flowerbed is a sustainable and aesthetic solution for gardening novices who aren't looking to increase the amount of work they need to do yet want to revamp their outdoor space. By using plants that are weather-adapted, mulch, and cleverly planning your layout, you can design, with minimum effort, a year-round appealing flowerbed.

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Last modified 2024-04-04

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