Some plants are real divas. They’re fussy customers that like lots of attention and demand that you spend hours catering for their every need. Feeding, staking, fending off pests, mollycoddling them over the winter – you’ll spend more time worrying about how to care for these plants than sitting back and enjoying your handiwork. That’s why I’ve compiled this post, to let you know you don’t have to do what they demand. Simply choose cheat plants that look just as good, without the fuss.
Crave Delphiniums? Grow Larkspur instead.
Want beautiful spikes of blue, pink, white and purple for weeks on end? I can’t get enough of these dramatic beauties in a cottage garden setting, but Delphiniums are tricky. They attract slugs like a magnet and whatever I try, they tend to get munched at some stage. So I have a failsafe back-up plan. Sow a few Larkspur seeds and you’ll get beautiful spikes of lilac, purple, pink and white that last for weeks. And they don’t seem to be attractive to the pesky molluscs. I’ve sown some in the autumn already and kept them in the (unheated) greenhouse overwinter, so have some strong plants ready for planting out soon, but don’t worry, it’s not too late so sow some in the spring, you’ll just have to wait a bit longer for the blooms.
Love Lavender? Grow Nepeta instead.
There’s something distinctly glamorous about rows of Lavender edging your borders – very old fashioned English and yet it can also work in a truly modern garden too. But lavender is a fusspot. It has to have good drainage or it curls up and dies, and so it hates my heavy clay soil. It also has to be pruned twice a year to look its best, and if you don’t get it right it gets woody and looks terrible.
Luckily there’s a cheat’s solution, of course. Plant Nepeta instead. It’s very easy to grow, not fussy about soil types, and just as fragrant and attractive to pollinators. You can cut it back at any time, take cuttings really easily, and it’s totally unfussy.
Adore Plumbago? Grow Ceratostigma instead.
If you’ve ever been on holiday to the south of France in summer, you’ll have been wowed by luscious displays of this gorgeous plant. Plumbago’s soft blue flowers cascade over walls all over the Cote D’Azur and it stole my heart many years ago. Despite it’s medical sounding name (I had a spot of plumbago once but it cleared up once I’d seen the doctor…) its romantic nature is captivating and you’ll be trying to grow it back in Blighty, but to no avail. It’s not hardy at all, and would need a heated greenhouse or space in your living room to make it through the winter. There is a solution though. Grow Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (the clue’s in the second part of its name) and you get the same gorgeous pale blue flowers dotted all over a hardy bush. It’s low growing, no maintenance and will see itself easily through the hardest of winters. What’s more, the leaves colour beautifully in the autumn, so you get even more benefits from this fantastic little plant. I’m surprised we don’t see more of it around. Well maybe now the secret’s out….