Pretty Low-Water Perennials

Why we love perennials – they keep coming back! 

Perennials are user friendly for the gardener who wants to scale back on annual planting chores.  You plant perennials once and they keep coming back year after year.  Of course, they still require maintenance and water, but some need a lot less than others.

Quick tips for perennials

  • Design your garden so that as one plant stops blooming another one starts.  Within the combination of plants you select, something should always be in bloom from early spring well into the fall.   
  • Look for the more drought-tolerant varieties that will thrive at Colorado’s altitude and your plant hardiness zone.  Your landscape pro or local garden center expert can guide you.   
  • Place plants in the yard according to their needs for sun/shade and group them by their water needs-low/medium/high.
  • Look for Plant Select varieties

because they have been developed to thrive and survive in Colorado’s harsh growing conditions. 

About Plant Select  
Plant Select varieties have been developed by horticulturists from Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and the green industry to provide Coloradans with plants that can grow in spite of our scorching winds, plummeting temps and high altitudes.  Many Plant Select varieties do very well at high elevations – and most are water-wise and low maintenance.

Consider these easy-to-grow Plant Selects

Colorado Gold® gazania (Gazania linearis)

Grows 8-12″ tall x 10″ wide 

Moderate to dry conditions with good drainage in full sun 

Why grow it: Sunny yellow, 2-3″ wide flowers start blooming in spring and often continue through summer with cooler nights.  

Good to 9000 ft.

 
Turkish veronika 

Turkish and Crystal River® veronicas

(Veronica liwanensis, V. ‘Reavis’) 

Grows 1-2″ tall x 18″+ 

Dry to xeric conditions (little water needed once established) in full sun 

Why grow them: Fast growing, stunning blue flowers in spring on lush green, small rounded leaves.  Excellent groundcovers for slopes, large rock gardens, walls, between stepping stones.  

–    Turkish veronica has deep, gentian-blue flowers 

–    -Crystal River® has paler blue flowers with a white eye 

Turkish grows to 10,000 ft. elevation; Crystal River® to 8000 ft.

Corsican violet (Viola corsica)

Grows  6-8″ tall x 6-8″ wide 

Conditions:  Moderate water in loam or clay soils 

Why grow it: Long-blooming, hardy violet especially beautiful in higher altitudes with sunny days and cool nights.  Striking rich purple color. 

Good to at least 9000 ft.

Sunset hyssop (Agastache rupestris) 

Grows 24″ tall x 15″ wide 

Dry to xeric (little to no additional water once established); full sun 

Why grow it: Late summer bloomer that thrives in hot, dry sites. Excellent for attracting pollinators –  bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Good to 7000 ft.

 
Fire spinner 

Hardy ice plants (Delosperma):  Fire Spinner®, Mesa Verde®, Table Mountain®
Grows 2″ tall x 12-20″ wide
Moderate to dry conditions with good drainage in full sun
Why grow them:  fast-growing, succulent groundcovers with nearly fluorescent blooms in early summer. Excellent for rock gardens and cascading down walls.
Good to 7000ft.

 
Pike’s Peak purple 

Pike’s PeakPurple®, Shadow Mountain® penstemons (Penstemon x mexicali)

Grows 18-24″ tall x 15-18″ wide 

Moderate to dry conditions with good drainage in full sun 

Why grow them: Long-blooming penstemons with glossy green, narrow foliage attractive all season long.  

–    Pike’s Peak Purple® has rich, deep purple flowers 

–    Shadow Mountain® flowers are lavender blue with dark strips lining the throat 

Good to 7000 ft.

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