Green thumb not needed

You don’t have a green thumb? No big deal. I have a grandaughter who has the blackest thumb you could imagine, yet she still keeps her front yard looking tidy and green.

The secret is knowing what to plant.

There are three sure-fire hits in the plant world and a number of other flowers that only need a regular drink of water to keep color in the front of your house all summer long.

The first one to consider is the hosta. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, sporting green leaves in all shades and sizes. From almost blue to yellow green, crumpled and ribbed, large and small, variegated and plain, they all share one attribute. They are tough!

If you are looking for a specimen at the garden center, look for one that has several stems in the same container. When you knock it out of the pot to plant it, pull apart the stems and plant each one separately. A great money saver, your hosta will settle in quickly, and all it asks is an occasional watering.

Each winter the plants will die back to the ground but faithfully return in early spring. You can’t lose. And if you appreciate the lily-like flowers that appear in July, there is a bonus for you.

Speaking of lilies, another winner is the daylily.

You can see sheets of orange along ditches at this time of the year, and these so-called ditch lilies are the ancestors of the many forms that are available. The most common variety is Stella d’Oro, bright yellow and with prolific flowers. Each bloom lasts only one day, but these are always more to take their places all through the summer.

If you go to a nursery specializing in daylilies, you will find them in many colors and sizes, but the cheaper yellow ones are perfectly fine and make a great display.

Then there are the ornamental grasses. Again, this is a reliable plant that will fill a space year after year and not ask much in the way of cultivation. I have seven varieties and I just love them.

Don’t worry about the names; just look on the label for height and maybe color. They range from the 6- or 7-foot zebra grasses with pale plumes to the small, red Japanese blood grass or the blue mondo, and the plumes provide color as well. Just once a year the grasses need attention, and that can be in late fall or early spring when they need to be cut back to about 6 inches.

I like to leave mine tall and waving through ice and snow and use the electric hedge trimmer to take care of the cutting back in March, just before the new growth begins.

Moving up to the next level, there are a host of easy-care annuals that will quickly fill a space with color.

They will work for you through the summer but die back in fall, having moved from bud to flower to seed all in one season.

You can purchase annuals in individual pots or by the flat in spring and summer, and they will usually be blooming while they are on sale so you can see exactly what you are getting. If you are the adventurous type, you also can sow seeds directly into the ground.

Zinnias, nasturtiums, marigolds and sunflowers are easy to grow from seed. All seed packets have the information you need, sun or shade being important. They also will outline time from seed to bloom and any care needed beyong basic watering.

So there you have it. There is a gardener lurking inside each one of us. All you need is one attempt with an easy plant, and you may find your life taking an unexpected direction. Mine did!

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at