The Easiest-to-Grow Plants in Garden Zone 6

 So my friend Kadi & I recently went “shopping” in my backyard for easy-to-grow plants.  She just built a home in Bend, & is now starting the landscaping process: so she was looking for about 5-6 plants that are the heartiest & fastest-growing in our climate.  We walked around my yard, & when she said, “I like that plant!” ~ I basically told her if it was a good choice (i.e. hard to kill!) or not.  Here, we’ll discover some of “The Easiest-to-Grow Plants in Garden Zone 6,” that will work whether or not you have a green thumb.

The Easiest-to-Grow Plants in Garden Zone 6, Girl Who Gardens

Two of my favorite perennials are in this garden bed, close to the house: lilacs & Karl Foerster grass. They provide a nice privacy barrier from neighbors, as both grow well over 6 feet tall.


All plants listed in this article, whether they’re a flower, shrub, or tree ~ are perennials in Garden Zone 6. While I love certain annuals (like snapdragons), I’ve had to focus my time & money on buying perennials: as they provide more “bang for the buck” in the long-run.

Native Grasses

Green Arborvitae

Common Lilac

The Easiest-to-Grow Plants in Garden Zone 6

While I’ve planted more than 100 different type of plants in my yard: the six below are ones I’ve purchased over & over again ~ because I know they’ll do well.  These have been the heartiest, best-performing plants in my Zone 6b garden.

  •  Karl Foerster Native Grass: In all high-end home communities around Bend: you see these plants. Landscapers love putting them in, because they thrive in our high-desert, harsh climate. They grow tall & wispy, look good all winter long, & provide a modest privacy barrier (as you can still see partially through them). They look great paired with almost any plant, & the only way to kill them is if you never water them. But once they’re established, they need very little water. All mine are on the smallest amount of drip irrigation, & doing very well.
  • Emerald Green Arborvitae: These tall guys are one of the only things “alive” in the wintertime, so they really provide a solid foundation for my yard year-round. There are different varieties; due to my HOA’s height restrictions, I chose the kind that grows between 8-12 feet tall. These are probably my #1 plants for creating privacy from neighbors, & I’ve tended to plant them in “fives,” as they look good in a row together…a very French country garden look. They need more water than Karl Foersters, but all mine are on drip irrigation (using a bigger drip) & are thriving. 
  • Common Lilacs: This was the first plant my friend pointed out that she wanted in her garden. Even without blooms, lilacs are great because they grow tall, provide privacy, & in Zone 6 ~ can grow as tall as a tree! As I drive around my neighborhood in spring, you see lilacs everywhere: older, established ones are as high as 15 feet tall. And when they bloom: MAN OH MAN….the scent is heavenly, their purple-pink blooms are divine-looking…& if you’re going for a French country or cottage-style garden: lilacs are a must.
  • Catmint: In Zone 6, catmint is used by landscapers a LOT, because it grows so fast, & is truly one of the hardest plants to kill. If you’re a beginning gardener: catmint (also called Walker’s Low) is a great place to start, because it really loves this climate. The biggest problem you’ll have with catmint is how BIG it grows: it spreads fast, so place it in a spot where you don’t mind it spreading out. It’s especially good to “hide” things in your yard, such as utility boxes, etc.
  • Dappled Willow: In the third year of my garden, my dappled willows are really turning into superstars. They come as a shrub OR a tree, & they’re wispy white-tipped leaves catch the sun in spectacular ways. In the right conditions (they prefer fairly moist soil), they grow FAST. Even right now in spring, I’ve already had to cut mine back, as they were starting to dominate their garden bed & overshadow other plants. Have some Vitamin B solution on-hand when originally planting you dappled willows, as most of mine went into a bit of transplant shock; the Vitamin B helped them get established. And keep soil moist, especially in their first year!
  • Russian Sage: Once the warmer months hit, & we start getting 90-degree days ~ Russian Sage turns into an absolute showstopper. It looks almost exactly like lavender, but is SO much easier to grow, & has a much longer *bloom* season, with purple spires towering from June through October. And it’s a great drought-tolerant plant: some re-seeded itself in my yard, I never water it ~ & they grow totally fine on their own. This is an extremely hearty plant, & is great for the warm months of summer & fall.

What to Plant with Hydrangeas? Girl Who Gardens

Purple Russian Sage is in the foreground here, & is one of the EASIEST plants to grow in Zone 6.


Dappled Willow

Russian Sage

Photos of My Favorite Zone 6 Plants

The Easiest-to-Grow Plants in Garden Zone 6, Girl Who Gardens

Five emerald green arborvitae sit right in front of my “She Shed,” creating privacy & a wind barrier for the garden.

The Easiest-to-Grow Plants in Garden Zone 6, Girl Who Gardens

Karl Foerster grasses are one of the most reliable plants to grow in Zone 6, & look good all year-round. When grown together, they can have a more modern look ~ or mixed with a variety of plants, they’ll fit into a French country or cottage-style garden.

3 Plant Alternatives to Lavender, Best Companion Plants for Catmint/Walker's Low, Girl Who Gardens

There are many more grasses you can plant besides Karl Foerster, such as these ornamental grasses ~ & most need very little water.

The Easiest-to-Grow Plants in Garden Zone 6, Girl Who Gardens

The pretty pink flower in the foreground here is from one of my favorite flowers: a Common Lilac, which are super-hearty in Zone 6.

What to Plant with Hydrangeas? Girl Who Gardens

All the purple plants shown here are catmint, or Walker’s Low ~ one of the easiest plants to grow in Zone 6.

The Hardest-to-Kill Plants in Zone 6, Girl Who Gardens

The beautiful shrub here with white-tipped flowers is a dappled willow, & the older it gets: the faster it grows! It comes in tree or shrub form.

The Hardest-to-Kill Plants in Zone 6, Girl Who Gardens

One final shot of lilacs mixed with Karl Foerster grasses….& a foxglove in the midst of them!

The Easiest-to-Grow Plants in Garden Zone 6

I have many more favorite plants & flowers for Zone 6 ~ but the ones listed here are my most reliable, by far.  Certain ones, such as my prized hydrangeas, can be much more fickle & hard-to-grow.  Feel free to ask me any questions about gardening in Zone 6 below!

xoxo Noelia

Read Next: Good Companion Plants for Hydrangeas

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