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Frugal Plants for Black Thumbs

I am not a gardener.


Not my flowers, believe me!

Growing things is just not my passion, and as a result, I’m pretty bad at it.

Because I’m not interested in gardening, I haven’t learned a lot about it, and I tend to give up easily.

(Plus: my yard is very shady, and we have a serious vole problem.)

So, I am no great font of gardening tips.

But there are a few plants that have worked well even for a black thumb like me, and I thought it might be helpful to share those with you.

I cannot be the only black-thumbed frugal person out there!

1. Daffodils

Bulbs are pretty easy even for clueless gardeners to grow, and daffodils are basically the easiest of the easiest.

Two girls holding daffodil bunches.

I’ve had a lot of trouble with things like hyacinths and tulips getting eating from the bottom up, but since voles hate daffodils, I’m good to go.

Two girls picking spring daffodils.

I bought a huge variety pack on Amazon a couple of falls ago, planted them all around my borders, and now I have daffodils that faithfully come up each spring.

A daffodil bunch on a white background.

And since I got a variety pack, they bloom at different times, which means I have daffodils for more than just a week.

Two orange and yellow daffodils.

I bought this 60 pack for $13.96 plus shipping.

But Amazon also has a ton of other daffodil mixtures you can choose from.

2. Grape Hyacinths (blue muscari)

Like daffodils, these are a bulb, which means once you buy them, they’ll keep coming up each year.

Blue Muscari bulbs in bloom.

I cannot successfully grow regular hyacinth bulbs because the voles gobble them right up. This type has tinier flowers, which is a little sad, but voles will not eat them.

Better to have tiny flowers that last, I say.

The exact pack I bought on Amazon is no longer available, but they have a bunch of different options currently for sale.

(This pack is $19 for 36 bulbs, plus free shipping.)

3. Red Bean Hyacinths

You know how string beans are really easy to grow?

Well, these aren’t edible (as far as I know), but they’re super easy to sprout and plant, just like string beans.

purple bean hyacinth around mailbox

As long as you have a spot with a lot of sun and somewhere for them to climb, you’ll be golden.

My yard is mostly shady, but I do have sun in a few key places for this plant.

Bean hyacinths growing on a wooden fence.

In the fall, you just save the bean pods, and you’ve got new seeds to plant in the spring.   You shouldn’t ever need to buy seeds for these again!

If you don’t have a friend to give you seeds, you can buy a pack of 100 hyacinth seeds on Amazon for $5.49.

4. Hydrangeas

Because I have a lot of shade, these have been great bushes for me to plant.

hydrangea with water droplets

Aldi usually has these in the spring for around $5, so all my hydrangeas are from Aldi. 😉

5. Mint

Mint is basically like a weed, which means you have to work really, really hard to kill it.

(That is my favorite kind of plant.)

Mint plants growing in a terracotta pot.

Plus, it self-propagates, and it always comes back in the spring for me, which means it costs basically nothing.

6. Basil

Basil seeds sprout reliably, and as long as you have a small sunny spot, you can successfully grow a basil plant.

A healthy basil plant, growing in mulch.

I’ve had trouble growing things like cilantro, which seems to go to seed in about 5 minutes.

But as long as you keep pinching off the flowers on your basil plant, you should get a nice, full, leafy plant instead of a bunch of seeds.

If you don’t want to mess with planting basil seeds, you can always buy a small basil plant from the grocery store and just pot it at home.

7. Marigolds

Marigolds are super hardy and they’re very easy to grow from seed.

red and orange marigolds

Plus, it’s so easy to save the seeds for the next year.

dried marigold seeds

Really, if you just buy a single pack of seeds, you will be set for years to come!

marigold seeds


What else would you add to this list for black thumbs?

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Friday 6th of April 2018

Thank you for the Aldi tip!! We just bought a house after living on a boat for 20 years! I love gardens.... But I am clueless!! I am taking pics around the yard trying to identify what has already been established! If any of your experienced gardeners can help identify, that would be much appreciated!!

Glory Lennon

Sunday 26th of March 2017

I am an avid gardener, so thumb super green here, but here are the best nobody-can-kill-em perennial plants. for sun- Black-eyed susans, Coriopis, hardy hibiscus, sedum, obedient flower and for shade Hosta, geranium, Virginia Bluebells and Lily of the valley.


Sunday 26th of March 2017

Do you know that voles eat sedum too? AUGH. Drives me nuts.

I really hate voles.

Adriana @MoneyJourney

Monday 13th of March 2017

You are clearly a better gardener than many. Your plants look lovely and seeing them doing well each day must be a great feeling! I should know, since I think I'm about to say 'adios' to my new basil plant :D

I don't have a green thumb but I figured some spices are easy to take care of, since many grow them indoors. I'm currently struggling with a pot of basil and rosemary. I'm not doing very well though, I think my plants hate me :D

Randi MacDonald

Sunday 12th of March 2017

I can't plant bulbs in my zone( Socal) because we have really, really hot summers and not really very cold winters( except this year). Bulbs probably won't come back here. We have a ton of sun so we have to be careful about what we plant.


Thursday 9th of March 2017

You're not a true black thumb if you can keep those plants alive. I can't even keep an air plant alive--my kids swear I commit "planticide".

But I do have a tip for you--this works! If you like to eat outside and you are bothered by wasps and yellow jackets (they are especially attracted to meat), take some of your mint leaves, crush them up and float them in water. These insects apparently hate mint and won't come around it.

It also helps to give them a "peace offering" by taking a bit of the meat you are eating and dropping it on the ground far away from where you are sitting.

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