Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Plant a Perennial for Mom by Audrey Stokes

Coral Baby Penstemon photo Plant Select©
Mother’s Day is May 10 this year -- just around the corner!  All moms like to be given flowers on their special day. This year why not give a gift that “keeps on giving” and plant a perennial for Mom? Perennials may not have as great a visual impact in the container or immediately after planting as traditional horticultural species. Over time, however, they will reward Mom with their natural beauty.
A few of the many reasons native perennials are the ideal choice for a home landscape are:
  • they are naturally adapted to Colorado’s climates, soils and environmental conditions. 
  • they require less external inputs such as watering, fertilizing and other cultural factors when the planting site mimics the plant’s native habitat. 
  • they create habitat and attract a variety of wildlife including mammals, birds, butterflies and other native pollinators.
My go-to source for perennial plant recommendations are the Plant Select® choices ( plants have been trialed and tested by Denver Botanic Garden, CSU Extension and horticultural professionals who research plants that flourish in our area, live longer and use fewer resources. They introduce and grow plants that are, among other things:
  • adapted to a dry climate and/or drought tolerant
  • non-invasive
  • easy to care for while gardening responsibly
Here are some of their beautiful 2015 selections:
Englemann's Daisy photo Plant Select©
Engelmann’s daisy (Engelmannia peristenia): This native wildflower is easy-to-grow, durable, beautiful and a must for wildflower meadows and gardens. Attracts a wide range of native bees, honey bees and bumblebees. Grows 24-28″ tall x 14″ wide in moderate to dry conditions in full sun. Hardy in USDA zones 5-10.
Windwaslker Royal Red Salvia photo Plant Select©
WINDWALKER® royal red salvia (Salvia darcyi x S. microphylla ‘PWIN03S’):  This hummingbird magnet was discovered by Kelly Grummons – a garden hybrid of VERMILION BLUFFS and Raspberry Delight salvias. Blood red flowers from mid-summer through fall. 
WINDWALKER® big bluestem (Andropogon geradii ‘PWIN01S’): A regal upright ornamental grass with powdery blue foliage that turns plum purple in the fall.  
Desert Beardtongue photo Plant Select©
Desert beardtongue (Penstemon pseudospectabilis): purple-magenta flowers on a long-lived native, xeric penstemon. Attracts hummingbirds, bees and moths. 
Coral Baby penstemon (Penstemon x ‘Coral Baby’): a long-blooming, striking coral-colored penstemon discovered by Kelly Grummons. Excellent pollinator plant.
Plant Select® has a booklet online featuring all the plants they have selected since 1997. It also provides information on general selection, planting, soils and care. Gardening in the west is challenging so be sure to do your homework – Mom will thank you!
For more information see these CSU Extension publications on perennial selection and care: