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The Gardener's Trifecta

Updated on December 7, 2011

Garden Trifecta

Hostas and daylillies
Hostas and daylillies | Source

The trifecta of garden simple garden success.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks new gardeners encounter is deciding what plants they should plant. When we first begin to plan our gardens we’re drawn to vibrant colors and beautiful foliage, only to find that many of these enticing beauties aren’t good choices for the novice gardener. Only after investing money in these plants do we discover they are the diva’s of the plant world.

After much trial and error, I found the ‘trifecta’ of gardening’s sure thing.There are three plants that do well in just about any garden and provide spring and summer color with very little effort. These are Iris, daylilies and hostas.

These three plants are perfect starter plants. Their bloom time is staggered to provide color throughout most of the growing season, they grow in almost any soil type, they come in a myriad of colors and it just so happens that their heights work in perfect conjunction to fill any garden. I include them in all my gardens because they are the three plants that I can always count on to deliver.

A great start to any garden is to plant iris at the back of the garden, daylilies in the middle and host in the front. These hardy plants can be a complete garden on their own and if you want to experiment with new plants they provide a tried and true background in case the others don’t perform as well as expected.


yellow variety of Iris
yellow variety of Iris | Source


The Iris is often an often overlooked garden standard. Why is this? Maybe we think of them as something we saw in our grandmother’s gardens or we just don’t give the iris the credit it deserves. Today’s varieties are decked out and a star performer in any garden.

The iris of today is bigger and better than the iris you remember in your grandmother’s garden. Iris are often repeat bloomers as well and can extend color well into the summer. Your head will spin when you see the new varieties of iris from which to choose. Colors range from the traditional light blue to black and the bearded iris can’t be matched for ease of growth and impact.

Iris can be found in varieties that bloom from early spring to mid summer . Bearded iris produce the largest blooms and the old fashioned flag can provide a light sugary (mine smell like grape bubble gum according to my daughter) scent that will fill your entire garden.

Iris also multiply quickly, so you’ll find that you’ll soon be blessed with a full border of these hardy beauties. They can be grown from rhizomes and easily divided. While they can be planted from division at any time, it’s best to cut back the foliage when replanting. Note that if you are planting from rhizomes the first year it’s likely that you won’t get blooms. If you purchase potted iris you can expect blooms the first year. Dividing is as easy as digging up the plant and using a spade or shovel to separate the rhizomes.


Daylily | Source


One of my absolute favorite plants is the versatile daylily. These plants, like the iris, are available in a variety of colors and bloom times. Daylilies are very hardy and stellar garden performers. There is a seemingly never ending spectrum of color available and nurseries are developing new varieties every year.

Daylilies are often used in commercial landscaping and there’s a reason. They are tolerant of just about any soil type and do not require much maintenance. They are stunners when in bloom (late spring to late summer dependent upon the variety) and the foliage offers interest even after blooming.

One thing to watch out for when you are purchasing daylilies is rust. Rust is a disease that can affect the leaves, causing them to develop brown spots and wilt. Once a plant is infected with rust, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it and the plant should be removed from the garden so as to not spread to other plants. That said most good nurseries and sellers will guarantee that their daylilies are rust free.

Puruse any garden catalog and you’ll discover that daylilies come in every color of the rainbow and range in size from large 7” to miniature 3” blooms. I like to use both large and small and intersperse them throughout the garden.

Daylilies can be purchased in containers or ordered from sellers in ‘fans’. Fans are usually fairly small and include a rhizome with several fan like leaves. Purchased as fans it may take a season or two to get the full size plant. Daylilies from container will grow quickly and can be divided within a season or two.

I find that to keep my daylilies and iris healthy, it’s best to divide them every 3 to five years. You’ll start to notice that some of the plant will die back, usually in the center, when the plant needs divided. Dividing is done simply by digging up the plant and inserting a shovel in the center. Place one half of the split plant back into the hole and use the other to start a new garden, fill in empty spots or share with friends.



Hostas are really a gardener’s best friend. They are a beautiful garden performer, adding lush green foliage to your garden. Green is not the only color available, there are many different varieties that offer blue/green, yellow or variegated foliage. Though not usually thought of as a blooming plant, many gardeners will cut back blooms to enhance the grown of the foliage, they do have lovely blooms and usually bloom in white or lavender.

As a base plant at the front of any garden, hostas will create a beautiful balance and add a season long performer that is low maintenance. Not all hostas require complete shade, though they tend to do better when provided with some shade. This can also be provided through surround plants. Though I don’t recommend it, I have had success growing hostas in some rather sunny locations with extra watering. They will grow well in most soil types and climate zones.

Hostas can be purchased in containers or from sellers as ‘bare root’ plants. The bare root plants are shipped with soil removed from the roots and nodules. It can take a season or two for the bare root plant to mature. Hostas are one of the easiest plants to divide. I’ve divided them at different times in the growing season, but it’s best to divide them in early spring when the leaves are just starting to unfurl.

My garden trifecta

My garden trifecta
My garden trifecta | Source

Happily ever after with the garden trifecta

This garden trifecta can stand alone or be the backdrop to a more adventurous garden plan. Using these three simple and hardy plants you can have the perfect garden. With performers like these you can easily test out new varieties without fear of a sparse lackluster garden. One of the best aspects of these plants is that nurseries are developing even hardier plants in a rainbow of colors and bloom types.

Any new gardener will appreciate these top performers for their easy maintenance and colorful varieties. Maintenance plans for these plants vary a bit, but mostly consist of cutting back the foliage either at the end of the growing season or in the spring and dividing the plants every 3 to 5 years. A tidier garden results when the plants are cut back in late fall as the foliage begins to die back.

If you want a low maintenance, colorful and top performing garden….you can’t go wrong with the gardener’s trifecta.

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    • Infiniteresearch profile image

      Infiniteresearch 6 years ago from Ohio

      Zone 7's a great zone for growing. I'm zone 6 and all three do wonderfully. I love perennials and try to use hardy ones as much as possible, my daughter just loves marigolds..lucky for me marigolds are one of the easiest annuals and not to bad to start from seed either.

    • The-BestMouseTrap profile image

      Pam Valentine 6 years ago from The Heartland, USA

      I had a black thumb until I moved to the Midwest, I figured if I could get anything to grow in clay, I'd be lucky. Turned out my forte was bumper crops of vegetables. I stink at any flowers other than mums, zinnias and marigolds. I did manage to grow some hostas, but my donkey thought they tasted great, at least they grow back. I love your Trifecta as I do the challenge, will have to find the best time for Zone 7.