9 Low-Maintenance Plants for Alabama Gardens

Sunny garden spot in Alabama

While gardening can be therapeutic, the time to enjoy other activities gives you the balance a healthy, full life needs. Low-maintenance plants will allow you to have a beautiful, vibrant garden and still finish your yard work in time to make it to Gulf State Park on the weekends. This article identifies nine low-maintenance plants for Alabama gardens to help you find that perfect balance between gardening and other hobbies.

After you’re finished learning some of the best perennials and annuals for your Alabama flower beds, check out our article on the best types of grass for Alabama lawns. It will give you turfgrass options that are best suited for your yard’s characteristics, your lifestyle, and your maintenance preferences.

9 low-maintenance plants for Alabama gardens

This list includes flowers, shrubs, trees, and ground covers that thrive in Alabama’s climate with little to no effort. 

1. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta

Black-eyed Susan
Photo Credit: Pixabay | License

Black-eyed Susan is an eye-opener, with her bright yellow flowers happily extending from a dark center. You can catch her petals facing downward and her eye looking towards the sun. 

This plant is moderately drought-tolerant once established, making her easy to care for. Just be sure to water her occasionally. You can stretch how long the petals blossom by providing additional irrigation during dry spells. But Susan will do fine in Alabama gardens, with the state’s history of infrequent droughts. Read our article on how often to water your garden for optimal watering practices. 

Watch this flower attract butterflies, birds, and pollinators. Susan’s preferences and resilience work well with the mild seasons, hot summers, and occasional frosts Alabama experiences. She’ll thrive in the sunny summers, and when black-eyed Susan is young, she is frost-tolerant. She also adapts to multiple soil types.

Although Susan is not fussy about soil types, she does not tolerate excessive nitrogen. Do not plant her where she’ll receive too much nitrogen from fertilizer. Let her sweet smell add rays of color to beds and borders. She also makes a wonderful accent plant.

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 9
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Clay, sandy, loam, acidic, moist, well-drained
  • Duration: Can be perennial, biennial, or annual, depending on growing conditions
  • Water Needs: Medium. Has moderate drought tolerance.
  • Mature Height: 1 to 3 feet

Where to buy black-eyed Susan seeds: Black Eyed Susan 1000 – 1 LB Seeds Rudbeckia Hirta Yellow Wildflower Beautiful (1000 Seeds)

2. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

eye-level with a purple coneflower
Photo Credit: alvaroreguly | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The purple coneflower, like black-eyed Susan, sits with its petals facing towards the ground and its center gazing up at the sky. The center is made up of small flowers that look like a bushy pom pom. This flower’s unique structure and pinkish-purplish flowers have earned it the nickname ‘pink double delight.’ Although not as winter-hardy as Susan, this double delight can withstand a little cold. It blooms until the first frost.

Purple coneflower is deer-resistant. It is also pest and disease-tolerant, so you won’t have to spend significant time applying control methods. 

If the double blast of pinkish-purplish petals is a little too much, no worries! This flower has cultivars that come in a variety of colors and sizes. Enjoy the purple coneflower’s sweet, honey-like smell and its array of hues. Add these pom poms to wildflower gardens, pollinator gardens, borders, and beds. 

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 8
  • Sun: Full sun, partial shade
  • Soil: Sandy
  • Duration: Perennial 
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 2 to 5 feet

Where to buy purple coneflower seeds: Echinacea Pupurea Seeds (Echinacea purpurea) 75 Seeds (0.5 grams)

3. Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Photo Credit: Linjerry | Canva Pro | License

If there were ever a bush that so beautifully called out, “Come hither,” it is the bigleaf hydrangea. Although it is marvelous to consume visually, ingesting large quantities is poisonous. Touching it can also cause dermatitis. You may want to avoid this bush if you have small children, or take precautions and plant it behind a fence or somewhere not easily accessible.

This bush allows you to pick the colors of its blossoms. Choose from white to pinkish, blue, or purple flowers. Acidic soils produce bluer flowers. Pink flowers sprout from more alkaline soil. You can adjust the pH of your soil by adding aluminum sulfate to make it more acidic and lime to make it more alkaline.

This bush works great as a hedge or in foundation plantings. It makes a great gift as cut flowers. 

  • Plant type: Shrub
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6 – 9
  • Sun: Full to partial sun
  • Soil: Moist but well-drained, all soil types
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Water Needs: Moderate
  • Mature Height: 2-7 feet, depending on the cultivar

Where to buy hydrangea seeds: 25pcs Blue Pink Purple Hydrangea – Beautiful and Hardy Perennial Flowers

4. American beech (Fagus grandifolia

looking up into the yellow leaves and branches of an American beech tree
Photo Credit: Katja Schulz | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Grass and other plants do not grow well underneath this tree, so planting it gives you the perfect excuse for a minimalistic landscaping design. Your yard will not have a bare look because of less vegetation, however, as American beech grows tall and wide. 

This flowering tree blossoms from March through May. Its dark green leaves turn into golden colors in the fall, making up for the lack of brilliance in the small flowers that are not very showy. American beech also bears edible fruit that ripens in the fall. But for some, eating too many of the berries can cause stomach irritation.

Small mammals like raccoons and squirrels are attracted to American beech trees. Although this tree is drought-sensitive, it requires well-drained soil. Plant it in your yard in full sun and marvel as its silvery bark and colorful leaves brighten up in the winter.

  • Plant type: Deciduous tree
  • Hardiness zones: 4 – 9
  • Sun: Full sun or partial shade 
  • Soil preferences: Moist sandy, silty, clay, or loam soils 
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Water needs: Sensitive to drought and may need watering during dry spells 
  • Mature size: 50 – 80 feet tall and 40 – 80 feet wide 

Where to buy American beech seedlings: American Beech Tree – Live Plant – 6-12″ Tall Seedling – Quart Pot – Fagus grandifolia

5. Dwarf azalea (Rhododendron atlanticum)

Photo Credit: David J. Stang | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Dwarf azalea, also known as coastal azalea, boasts tubular flowers at the base with white or white and pink petals that flare out at the tips. It attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and birds. Its strong, sweet, and spicy smell may draw you in, too. But beware! It is highly poisonous to humans and animals. It may be fatal if ingested. This is not the best plant for homes with pets and children.   

If you can secure this shrub behind a fence or have no small children or fur babies, dwarf azalea will work well in a pollinator garden or as a border or accent. Mulch the soil with compost or bark for temperature control and moisture retention, and this flowering bush will thrive pretty much on its own. 

  • Plant type: Shrub
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6 – 9 
  • Sun: Full sun, partial shade
  • Soil: Clay, loam, sand
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Water needs: Average
  • Mature height: 2 to 3 feet

Where to buy dwarf azalea seedlings: Coastal Azalea (Rhododendron atlanticum) – 1 Gallon Pot

6. Largeflower tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora)

Largeflower tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora)
Photo Credit: AYImages | Canva Pro | License

Layered rich yellow petals sit atop stems that grow as high as 18 inches tall. These fluffy, striking flowers live up to their name, measuring as large as two inches in diameter. This large flower attracts bees and butterflies. 

Largeflower tickseed gives off a sweet and spicy fragrance to which some people are allergic. It is drought-tolerant, and although it prefers full sun, it tolerates partial shade, especially during hot Alabama summers. 

Fertilizing and deadheading will promote strong and healthy blossoms. Use these sunny yellow flowers as a container plant, or let them add texture to borders and cottage gardens. Remove the spent flower shoots to enjoy blossoms from late spring to late summer.

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 – 9
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-drained, sand, loam, clay
  • Duration: Perennial, biennial
  • Water needs: Drought-tolerant, 1 inch per week
  • Mature height: 1.5 to 2.5 feet

Where to buy largeflower tickseed seeds: Coreopsis grandiflora Sunkiss 250 Seeds

7. Showy phlox (Phlox speciosa)

Photo Credit: Walter Siegmund | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Another beautiful purple flower, the showy phlox has petals that open wide as if taking a nice stretch. Five or more petals sit atop stems with dark green leaves. You can also find blossoms in a light pinkish color. 

This wildflower adds a breath of fresh air as it blossoms from mid-spring to early summer. It attracts pollinators and brings a sweet smell and beautiful color to pollinator gardens. Let these flowers stretch out in your flower bed or as container plants. They grow as high as 2 feet tall and thrive in part shade.

Showy phlox can also creep across the ground as a beautiful, low-maintenance flowering ground cover

  • Plant type: Flower, ground cover
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 – 8
  • Sun: Partial shade
  • Soil: Moist but well-drained acidic or neutral soil with a clay or sandy composition
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Water Needs: Low
  • Mature Height: 1 to 2 feet

Where to buy phlox seeds: 1200+ Mixed Phlox Seeds – Creeping Perennial Ground Cover – Popstars Phlox Creeping Carpet Plants

8. Scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea)

Photo Credit: Forest and Kim Starr | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scarlet sage is often caught flaring outward from its stem. The fiery, spiked petals share a stalk with hairy, heart-shaped leaves. You can also find scarlet sage, AKA scarlet salvia, with pink or white flowers. 

The warm honey smell and word “sage” in its name may fool you, but scarlet sage is not edible. This plant has low toxicity if ingested. The bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds the flower attracts, on the other hand, may disagree. 

Scarlet sage will keep you guessing as it blooms any time of the year. Since Alabama enjoys the warm and mild weather common in the South, scarlet sage is a perennial. (It is an annual in climates with below-freezing temperatures). For a nice garden surprise year-round, plant it along walkways and in mass plantings.

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8 – 10
  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Sand
  • Duration: Annual to short-lived perennial
  • Water needs: Medium
  • Mature height: 2-6 feet

Where to buy scarlet sage seeds: 400 SCARLET SAGE (Lady-In-Red Salvia / Blood Sage / Red Texas Sage) Salvia Coccinea Flower Seeds

9. Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Photo Credit: NNehring | Canva Pro | License

Wild bergamot is commonly referred to as bee balm. Its white and purple flowers sprout away from a green center. This plant is quite functional, as essential oils made from it repel some mosquito species. But take heed if you smoke or like to grill. Wild bergamot is moderately flammable.

This flower is very accommodating. It tolerates a variety of soil types, including poor soil. Bee balm is also rabbit and deer-resistant, so it’s great for homes that are hosts to these forest friends. Deer are usually turned off by the flower’s oregano and mint smell.

Wild bergamot attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. If you’re looking for a quick-spreading plant, you’ll be wild about wild bergamot. Just be careful. It may take over your flower bed due to its aggressive growth habit. But its drought tolerance and fast-spreading qualities mean you won’t have to spend much time watering it or planting other flora.

  • Plant type: Flower
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 9
  • Sun: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: Shallow, rocky soil or clay that’s moist, well-drained, or dry-ish
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Water Needs: Natural rainfall should be sufficient; withstands dry soil for a while
  • Mature Height: 2 to 4 feet

Where to buy wild bergamot seeds: Wild Bergamot Seeds – Heirloom, Native – 100 Mg

How to choose the best low-maintenance plants for your garden

Select plants in Alabama’s USDA hardiness zones, which are 7 through 9. For optimal results, select plants in your area of the state’s zone. For example, Birmingham is in zones 7b and 8a, while Dauphin Island is in zone 9a. These zones help gardeners choose plants that will survive their region’s lowest freezing temperatures.

Your yard’s characteristics also affect how plants grow. Familiarize yourself with your yard’s conditions and choose plants that thrive best in that environment. Here are some things to consider:

  • Soil type and drainage: Soil types retain moisture differently. It is important to know if you have clay, silt, or loamy soil, or a combination of these soil types.
  • Soil pH level: Is your soil more acidic or alkaline? Although you can modify your pH level, you may want to keep it simple and choose flowers that grow best in what you currently have. 
  • Sunniness and shade: If you want a specific type of plant, make sure your yard provides the amount of sun and shade the plant needs to thrive.

When choosing your low-maintenance plants, keep in mind maintenance requirements and your availability to do the work. If you have small children or pets, be mindful of which vegetation is toxic. 

Another great way to ensure you select low-maintenance plants for your Alabama landscape design is to choose native plants, like native perennials, ground cover, and other native floras. Native plants require less upkeep because they have adapted to the local environment

FAQ about low-maintenance plants for Alabama

What sedums grow best in Alabama?

The best sedum succulents for Alabama landscapes include:

  • Sedum diffusum
  • Sedum pusillum
  • Sedum nevii

What are some daylilies and hardy hibiscus plants that grow well in Alabama?

Daylilies and hardy hibiscus plants are other types of low-maintenance plants that can do well in Alabama. The varieties that grow best here include the following. 



Why are native plants good options for low-maintenance vegetation?

Native plants, like native low-maintenance perennials and annuals, require less work to thrive because they have adapted to the local environment. 

  • They have adapted to the hot summers, mild year-round weather, and unique winter conditions of Alabama. So, it doesn’t take extra work to acclimate them to these conditions.
  • Native plants are more resistant to local diseases and pests, meaning they require fewer to no chemicals, like pesticides.

Read our article on Alabama native plants to learn about plants that are not only low-maintenance but that give back to the ecosystem because they provide habitat and nourishment for insects, pollinators, and wildlife.

Where to find low-maintenance landscape plants in Alabama

From ground cover to hostas to sedums and other low-maintenance plants for your Alabama landscape, you can find seeds and seedlings at your neighborhood nursery, local home improvement stores, and online from national retailers like Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart.

Keep your yard full of color and texture year-round by planting a variety of vegetation that blossoms at different times. Mix plants that bloom as soon as the early spring with those that maintain their color into the winter. For more ideas on how to have an attractive landscape that is the talk of the neighborhood, check out our Alabama landscaping ideas

Now that you have several resources for ideas on how to create an appealing landscape, you may want some help getting started or maintaining it. After all, the more work you can pass on to someone else, the more time you can spend rooting for the Crimson Tide. 

Let Lawn Love connect you to small-business lawn care and landscaping pros throughout Alabama to handle all of your landscaping tasks, from gardening to mowing and edging your lawn.

Lawn Love participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other retailer affiliate programs. Lawn Love may earn revenue from products promoted in this article.

Main Photo Credit: 12019 from Pixabay | Canva Pro | License

LaShonda Tucker

LaShonda Tucker’s passion for maintaining a healthy lifestyle through organic herbs, fruits, and veggies leads her to research and learn about plants and insects. She loves sharing her knowledge to help others achieve their lawn care and landscaping goals.