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We all like to have more plants and color in the landscape. Not all plants live forever, in the case of perennials some only live in the landscape 3 to 4 years, others can live for decades.

Some multiply and spread slowly or by seeding. Others should be divided very rarely, like every decade. Some truly dislike being divided at all.

Some perennial plants only survive for a 3 or 4 years, others can out-live the gardener. These 10 flowering perennials may self-sow, but they tend to spread slowly and would not require dividing more often than every 10 years. Some resent being divided at all, and can just be left alone. If you are looking to downsize your garden or simply find some plants that don’t require constant attention, take a look.

1.  Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus)

Every garden should have a few balloon flowers, just for the fun of waiting for them to pop. These are close cousins of bellflowers and the resemblance is apparent. In addition to these bluish-purple flowers, you will find lovely pink and white varieties. They will start blooming in early summer and keep going, with a little deadheading. You can cut back the whole flowering stem, to the ground, to encourage even more buds.

Balloon flowers are extremely long lived, although they can be a little temperamental about establishing. They also have a tap root, that allows them to withstand drought and poor soils. They will live longer if you don’t disturb them, but they’ll self-sow and give you plenty of new plants, too.

They are happy in partial to full sun. USDA Hardiness Zones 3 — 9.

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2.  Bugbane aka Snakeroot  (Actaea racemosa)

This plant is like Astilbe on steroids. They will shot up 5 – 6 ft. and top off with long, spiky, white plumes in mid- to late summer. Once again, it’s the tap root that makes this a tough plant to move. It also means Bugbane can take awhile to become established and reach its full grandeur. To make your life even easier, Bugbane needs no staking.

Bugbane is not the prettiest flower name, but it refers to its tendency to repel insects by its scent, yet another plus in the garden.

Most Bugbane hybrids can handle almost full shade and do not like hot, afternoon sun. USDA hardiness Zones 4 – 8

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3.  Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Speaking of tap roots, Butterfly Weed truly hates to have its roots disturbed, but that tap root makes established plants incredibly drought tolerant. This is a great plant for just about anywhere, but especially areas with hot, dry summers.

Butterfly Weed lives up to its name, attracting butterflies and all manner of pollinating insects. The species has bright orange flowers and there are nowhybrids in shades and combos of yellow and red. Mature plants reach a height of 2 – 3 ft. and spread about 2 ft.

It is very slow to emerge in the spring, but be patient. These are long lived plants. They are also repeat bloomers, even if you are not diligent about deadheading.

Butterfly Weed blooms best in full sun. USDA Hardiness Zones 3 — 9.

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4.  False Indigo (Baptisia australis)

Another stubborn tap rooted plant, Baptisia takes a few years to really take hold in the garden, but it will stick around for years. It is a legume and you’ll notice the resemblance to pea plants in the leaves, flowers and seed pods.

Baptisia is a North American native and is often considered a wildflower, even though we cultivate them in our gardens. There are several new hybrids available, but the striking bluish flowers of the species is the real crowd pleaser. It blooms in early summer, about the same time as peonies.

Baptisia likes things on the dry side and does best in full sun. It will get lanky and floppy without plenty of bright, direct light. USDA Hardiness Zones 2 — 9

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5.  Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus)

You can’t miss Goat’s Beard, when it’s in bloom. These are tall, wide plants with long, full panicles of white blooms. The plants have long tap roots, making it difficult to move mature plants. Choose a spot with plenty of room for them to fill out. The bloom period is early to mid-summer and they’ll put on a good show.

This is another plant that prefers full sun but does very well in partial shade. It may stay a little shorter in shade, but it will still provide a bit of drama. USDA Hardiness Zones 3 – 7.

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6.  Monkshood* (Aconitum fischeri)

Monkshood is a late season bloomer, with vivid bluish-purple flowers that cling to long, bending stalks. The flowers may come late in the season, but they hang on through tough weather and can last for over a month. Monkshood does not like being disturbed, once it is established. You should still get volunteer plants, which can be easily transplanted while they are young.

All parts of monkshood plants are poisonous if ingested, but they are also very pest and disease resistant.

Prefers full sun, but will flower well in partial shade. (USDA Hardiness Zones 2 – 9)

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7.  Peony (Paeonia)

Peonies don’t have tap roots, they just like to settle in and not be bothered. Peony plants will live for decades and you’ll often see some fine old specimens around old houses, looking right at home. They bloom in late spring / early summer. There are fluffy double flowers and charming singles, most are fragrant and make great cut flowers. They do have a tendency to flop, especially if it rains. Staking is recommended, which means a little extra work for you, but you can do it quickly, in the spring, when they first start growing.

Peonies don’t like being divided, but they certainly can be. If you want to divide yours, fall is the best time, after the plants have had an entire season to feed their roots. Divide into pieces with at least 3 eyes each and plant them just below soil level. They need a nice chilling period to set next year’s flower buds, so don’t mulch or plant deeply.

Peonies bloom best in full sun, but can handle light shade. USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 – 8.

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8.  Sea Holly (Eryngium planum)

For drought tolerance and a long season of interest, it’s hard to beat Sea Holly. The plants can be a little prickly, but they will be covered in steel blue-violet blooms from summer through fall. The flowers themselves look like small metallic pine cones. Each is collared by bracts that can be silver, whitish, green or violet.

Mature plants reach a height of 18 – 26 in. tall and spread about 1 ft. Butterflies love them and they’ll grow just about anywhere, no matter how dry or bad the soil. Sea Holly can even handle salt. They last a long time as cut flowers and it doesn’t take much effort to dry them.

For the most vivid color, Sea Holly needs a full day of sun. USDA Hardiness Zones 4 – 9

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