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18+ Low Maintenance Landscaping Plants (Pennsylvania) | State College, PA

Creating a beautiful garden doesn’t have to be a chore. With low-maintenance landscaping plants, Pennsylvania homeowners can enjoy lush, vibrant landscapes without the constant upkeep. 


At Landscape II, our professional landscaping services help you design and maintain the perfect low-maintenance garden tailored for Pennsylvania’s unique climate.


Using native plants in your landscaping supports native biodiversity by providing essential food and habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.


These plants also require less water, fertilizer, and care than non-native species, making your garden more sustainable and easier to maintain. With the right selection of low-maintenance plants, your Pennsylvania garden will thrive year-round with minimal effort.


Key Takeaways


  • Using low-maintenance native plants in your Pennsylvania garden supports local biodiversity and requires less care.

  • Native plants like the Pennsylvania bee balm and Eastern hemlock are ideal for sustainable, easy-to-manage landscapes.

  • Fast-growing shrubs like Viburnum dentatum and Forsythia provide quick beauty and privacy with minimal effort.


Why Choose Native Plants for Your Pennsylvania Garden?

An gardener trimming the plants.

Native plants are perfectly adapted to Pennsylvania’s unique climate and soil, making them an excellent choice for low-maintenance landscaping. 


Here are some key benefits of incorporating native plants into your garden:


  • Less maintenance: Native plants require less water, fertilizer, and care compared to non-native plants, making your garden easier to manage.

  • Erosion control: Plants like New Jersey tea and river birch help control erosion, especially in wet areas.

  • Year-round interest: Eastern hemlock, flowering dogwood, and eastern redbud provide visual appeal throughout the year with evergreen foliage, colorful flowers, and vibrant fall colors.

  • Support for native biodiversity: Native plants attract pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds and provide crucial resources for birds and beneficial insects.

  • Varied habitats: From full sun-loving wild blue phlox to partial shade-preferring mountain laurel, native plants thrive in diverse garden environments.


18+ Low-Maintenance Landscaping Plants for Pennsylvania


Choosing the right low-maintenance plants can transform your Pennsylvania garden or backyard into a beautiful, sustainable oasis. Here are the top native shrubs, native perennials, and trees that will thrive with minimal care:

A beautiful garden

1. Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire)


Virginia Sweetspire is a fantastic choice for Pennsylvania gardens, especially in areas with wet soil. This resilient shrub is known for its lovely white flowers that bloom in early summer, creating a striking contrast against its lush green foliage. 


As fall approaches, the leaves transform into vibrant shades of red, orange, and purple, adding a burst of color to your landscape. Virginia Sweetspire thrives in wet conditions, making it perfect for rain gardens or low-lying areas. 


2. Physocarpus (Ninebark)


Ninebark is an excellent choice for native plants. This hardy native shrub requires minimal water once established, making it ideal for low-maintenance gardens. Its attractive peeling bark adds texture and year-round interest to your garden. 


Ninebark’s clusters of pink or white flowers bloom in late spring, attracting native pollinators like bees and butterflies. This shrub thrives in full sun to partial shade and is a resilient and unique addition to any landscape.


3. Ilex glabra and verticillata (Inkberry and Winterberry)


Inkberry and Winterberry are valuable additions to any garden, offering evergreen foliage and bright berries that bring color and interest during the winter months. 


Inkberry, with its dark green leaves and purple berries, adds year-round greenery to your garden. Winterberry, on the other hand, loses its leaves but showcases stunning red berries, creating a vibrant display in the winter. 


4. Rhododendron


Rhododendrons are beloved for their showy, large flowers that bloom in late spring, adding a splash of color to shady areas of your garden. These shrubs prefer partial shade and well-drained soil, making them perfect for woodland gardens. 


Their evergreen foliage provides year-round interest, ensuring your garden remains attractive even in the colder months. 


5. Viburnum nudum and dentatum


Viburnums are versatile shrubs that are perfect for Pennsylvania gardens. Viburnum nudum produces white flowers in late spring, followed by clusters of blue berries that attract native birds. In fall, the foliage turns a beautiful mix of maroon and burgundy. 


Viburnum dentatum offers vibrant yellow, orange, and red leaves in the fall. Both varieties are well-suited for wet areas and make excellent choices for hedges or screens. These viburnums thrive in wet soils and part shade.


6. Bee balm (Monarda didyma)


Bee Balm is a vibrant native perennial that brightens up any garden with its striking red, pink, or purple flowers. This plant is a magnet for native pollinators, including bees and butterflies, making it a great choice for pollinator gardens. 


Bee Balm thrives in full sun to partial shade and can tolerate a variety of soil conditions. It ensures a bright and cheerful addition to your landscape, requiring minimal maintenance to keep it looking beautiful.


7. Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)


Known for its bright orange flowers, Butterfly Milkweed is essential for supporting monarch butterflies. This hardy perennial thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, adding a splash of color to your garden in mid-summer. 


Its low maintenance needs and ecological benefits make it a must-have for any Pennsylvania garden. Butterfly Milkweed also features tall spikes of flowers, making it a standout in any flower bed or garden.


8. Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata)


Wild Blue Phlox is a delightful choice for shady areas in your garden. With clusters of delicate blue flowers that bloom in early spring, this native plant adds a soft, romantic touch to your landscape. 


It thrives in moist, well-drained soil and is incredibly easy to care for, making it an excellent choice for woodland gardens or shaded borders. 


9. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)


Black-eyed Susan, with its bright yellow petals and dark centers, is a cheerful addition to any garden. This low-maintenance perennial blooms from mid-summer to fall, providing long-lasting color that brightens up your flower beds. 


Thriving in full sun and well-drained soil, Black-eyed Susan is a hardy and reliable choice. 


10. Marsh Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)


Marsh Blazing Star is a showstopper with its tall spikes of bright purple flowers that bloom in mid-summer. These striking flowering plants are a magnet for native bees and other pollinators, making them a wonderful addition to your native plant landscaping. 


Marsh Blazing Star thrives in wet soils, which makes it perfect for rain gardens or other damp areas in your garden. Its bold appearance and minimal care requirements make it a favorite for gardeners looking to add height and drama to their landscapes. 


11. Red Maple (Acer rubrum)


Red Maple is a fantastic native plant known for its stunning fall foliage. As the season changes, its leaves turn vibrant shades of bright red, orange, and yellow, adding a spectacular display to your landscape. 


This fast-growing tree provides excellent shade and thrives in a variety of soil conditions, making it a versatile addition to any garden. Red Maple is well-suited to the local climate of the eastern United States and integrates beautifully into diverse plant communities.


12. Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)


Eastern Hemlock is a wonderful native plant that offers year-round greenery with its evergreen foliage. This tree thrives in shady areas, making it perfect for adding depth and structure to your garden. 


Eastern Hemlock is well-suited to Pennsylvania’s local climate. This trouble-free tree will enhance your garden’s beauty and sustainability.


13. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)


With heart-shaped leaves and beautiful pink flowers that bloom in early spring, Eastern Redbud adds charm and color to your landscape. It thrives in well-drained soil and can tolerate partial shade.


14. River Birch (Betula nigra)


River Birch is ideal for wet areas, featuring striking peeling bark and vibrant yellow fall foliage. This tree adds texture and interest to your garden throughout the year.


15. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus Florida)


Known for its showy white or pink flowers in spring and vibrant red fall color, Flowering Dogwood is a stunning addition to any garden. It thrives in partial shade and well-drained soil.


16. New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)


This small shrub produces clusters of small white flowers in late spring and is excellent for erosion control. It thrives in well-drained soil and full sun, making it a great choice for sunny slopes.


17. Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)


With its beautiful flowers and evergreen foliage, Mountain Laurel adds year-round interest to your garden. This shrub prefers partial shade and well-drained soil, making it perfect for woodland gardens.


18. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)


Sweet Woodruff is a delightful groundcover for shady areas, producing fragrant flowers in late spring. Its low-growing, mat-forming habit makes it ideal for underplanting trees and shrubs.


How to Pick the Right Plants for Your Garden


Selecting the right native plants for your garden is essential for creating a vibrant and sustainable landscape. Here are some tips to help you make the best choices:


Assess sunlight needs. Determine how much sunlight your garden receives throughout the day. Some native plants, like the bright red Pennsylvania bee balm and the full sun-loving butterfly milkweed, thrive in sunny spots. 


Others, such as the heart-shaped leaves of Virginia bluebells and the shade-loving phlox divaricata, do well in shady areas or part shade.


Check soil moisture. Assess the moisture levels of your garden soil. Some native plants, such as the marsh blazing star and iris versicolor, tolerate wet soil and even wet conditions. Others, like the low-maintenance perennials, red maple, and black-eyed Susan prefer well-drained soils.


Choose climate-adapted plants. Choose plants adapted to Pennsylvania's local climate. Native plants like the eastern white pine and red maple are well-suited to the regional weather patterns. These plants require fewer soil amendments and are more resilient to local pests and diseases.


Attract native pollinators. If you want to attract native pollinators such as native bees and butterflies, consider plants like bee balm, cardinal flowers, and early spring bloomers like phlox divaricata. These plants offer nectar and habitat, supporting native pollinators and enhancing the biodiversity of your garden.


Consider aesthetic preferences. Think about the visual appeal you want for your garden. Native plants come in a variety of colors and forms. 


For example, lavender flowers from plants like wild blue phlox and the vibrant blooms of mid-summer butterfly milkweed add striking color to flower beds. Variegated foliage and tall spikes of flowers can provide texture and height to your garden.


Say Goodbye to Garden Worries with Landscape II


At Landscape II, we know that creating a beautiful garden can sometimes feel daunting. Selecting the right native plants, ensuring they thrive in your local climate, and implementing responsible landscaping techniques can be a lot to manage. 


If you’re looking for plants that tolerate wet soil or flowering plants that attract native pollinators, we're here to help.


Our team of experts specializes in landscape design and maintaining low-maintenance landscapes tailored to Pennsylvania’s unique conditions. From the bright red Pennsylvania bee balm to the fragrant cardinal flower and the variegated foliage of witch alder, we'll help you choose the perfect native species for your garden. 


Let us handle the details so you can enjoy a stunning, sustainable garden. Call us today to start your native landscaping journey.


Summary


Using low-maintenance native plants in your Pennsylvania garden creates a vibrant, sustainable landscape and supports local biodiversity. Incorporate plants like fragrant cardinal flowers, bright red Pennsylvania bee balm, and variegated witch alder for a stunning garden that thrives with minimal effort. 


Embrace responsible landscaping techniques with native species adapted to the local climate, tolerating wet soil, and providing year-round interest. Transform your garden into a beautiful oasis that enhances the environment and brings joy all year round.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the most low-maintenance landscaping?


The most low-maintenance landscaping involves using native plants that are well-suited to the local climate and soil. 


These plants, like Pennsylvania bee balm and Eastern hemlock, require less water, fertilizer, and care compared to non-natives, making them ideal for sustainable and easy-to-manage gardens.


What are the fast-growing shrubs in PA?


Fast-growing shrubs in Pennsylvania include the versatile Viburnum dentatum, which offers vibrant fall colors, and Forsythia, known for its bright yellow blooms in mid-spring. Both shrubs can grow several feet tall quickly, providing both beauty and privacy to your landscape.


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