The Q&A Archives: I live in Philadelphia, PA. What would be the best choice in low-maintenance, annuals and perennials

Question: I live in Philadelphia, PA. What would be the best choice in low-maintenance, annuals and perennials for my zone? How should they be planted? I would like to plant them

Answer: There are literally hundreds of plants suitable for your Zone 6 garden. Here's a list of the easiest to grow: Aster or Hardy Aster (Aster sp.)
Astilbe (Astilbe sp.)
Baby's breath (Gypsophila paniculata)
Balloon flower or Chinese bellflower (Platycodon grandiflorus)
Barrenwort (Epimedium)
Basket-of-gold (Aurinia saxatilis)
Beardtongue, penstemon (Penstemon)
Bear's breeches (Acanthus sp.)
Bee balm, Oswego tea (Monarda sp.)
Begonia, hardy (Begonia grandis)
Bellflower (Campanula sp.)
Bergenia (Bergenia sp.)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sp.)
Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)
Bleeding heart (Dicentra)
Blue fescue (Festuca glauca)
Bluestar, or amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana)
Boltonia (Boltonia asteroides)
Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla)
Bugbane (Cimicifuga)
Bugleweed (Ajuga sp.)
Bugloss (Anchusa)
Calamint, lesser (Calamintha nepetoides)
Campion, catchfly (Lychnis)
Candytuft (Iberis)
Cardinal flower (Lobelia)
Chamomile (Anthemis)
Chrysanthemum, Mum (Chrysanthemum)
Cinquefoil, Nepal (Potentilla nepalensis)
Colewort (Crambe cordifolia)
Columbine (Aquilegia)
Coneflower (Echinacea sp.)
Coral bells, alumroot (Heuchera)
Coreopsis, common (Coreopsis grandiflora)
Coreopsis, threadleaf, tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata)
Cranesbill (Geranium)
Crocosmia (Crocosmia crocosmiiflora) hybrids
Daylily (Hemerocallis sp.)
Delphinium (Delphinium)
Dianthus, pink, carnation (Dianthus)
Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis sp.)
Fleabane (Erigeron)
Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Foxglove (Digitalis)
Gas plant (Dictamnus)
Gayfeather (Liatris)
Globeflower (Trollius)
Goatsbeard (Aruncus sp.)
Golden-ray (Ligularia)
Hakone grass, variegated Japanese reed grass (Hakonechloa macra)
Hellebore (Helleborus)
Hibiscus, rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
Hibiscus, swamp (Hibiscus coccineus)
Hosta (Hosta sp.)
Hyssop, sunset (Agastache rupestris)
Inula, swordleaf (Inula ensifolia)
Iris, bearded (Iris hybrids)
Iris, crested (Iris cristata)
Iris, Dutch (Iris xiphium)
Iris, Japanese (Iris ensata)
Iris, Louisiana
Iris, reticulated (Iris reticulata)
Iris, Siberian (Iris sibirica)
Lady's mantle (Alchemilla)
Lamb's ear, betony (Stachys)
Lavender, common or English (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
Leopard's-bane (Doronicum)
Lily (Lilium)
Lily, Canada (Lilium canadense)
Lily, gold band (Lilium auratum)
Liriope, lilyturf (Liriope muscari)
Lupine (Lupinus)
Maiden grass, Eulalia (Miscanthus sp.)
Meadow rue (Thalictrum)
Meadowsweet (Filipendula)
Onion, flowering (Allium)
Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis)
Peony (Paenoia)
Phlox, garden (Phlox paniculata)
Pincushion flower (Scabiosa)
Plumbago, leadwort (Ceratostigma)
Poppy (Papaver)
Primrose (Primula)
Red-hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria)
Sage, bog (Salvia uliginosa)
Sage, common (Salvia officinalis)
Salvia, perennial (Salvia x superba)
Sage, Russian (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
Sandwort (Arenaria)
Sea holly (Eryngium)
Sea lavender (Limonium)
Solomon's seal (Polygonatum)
Speedwell (Veronica)
Sunflower (Helianthus)
Sunflower, false (Heliopsis helianthoides)
Sunflower, swamp or narrow-leaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius )
Thrift, moss pink (Phlox subulata)
Thrift, sea pink (Armeria)
Thyme (Thymus sp.)
Valerian, red (Centranthus)
Verbena (Verbena)
Violet (Viola)
Windflower (Anemone)
Wormwood (Artemisia)
Yarrow (Achillea)

Garden soil amended with organic matter will ensure a successful garden. Begin by removing all vegetation and debris from the garden bed, then spread a 4-5" layer of organic matter over the top and dig it in to a depth of 8-10". Level the soil then plant your annuals and perennials. Once the bed is planted, spread an additional 2-3" of organic matter over the top of the soil to help to suppress weeds and slow water evaporation.

Your idea of putting the smallest plants in front and tallest in back is a great idea. As you choose plants at your local garden center, each should have a tag explaining the best sun exposure and the ultimate size of the plant. With this information you should be able to design a beautiful garden.

Best wishes with your project!

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