PlantSelect® is for Colorado

Last week’s garden post was devoted to All America Selections, a nation-wide program that highlights new cultivars most likely to succeed in your garden, no matter which part of the country you live in. Surprisingly, it seems to work for Colorado. But there’s an even better “seal of approval” for Colorado gardeners to look for, at least when it comes to shrubs and perennials: PlantSelect®.

Plant Select sign_DBG_LAH_7628

PlantSelect® is a collaboration between Colorado State University, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and the horticulture industry. A variety of plants, both old favorites and those newly introduced, are grown for two to five years at in a variety of public and private gardens around the state. Every year, a select number of plants that thrive are awarded the coveted PlantSelect® designation, and are then widely marketed. The next time you go shopping for plants, look for the PlantSelect®logo!

If you grow a Colorado garden, and especially if you enjoy perennials, then you’re likely familiar with many PlantSelect® winners such as these:

The entire list may be found online at

Over the years, certain genera have stood out, such as Hardy Ice Plant, Delosperma, Agastache, and various salvias. It’s not a surprise—plants such as these are particularly well-adapted to our inhospitable climate, including “low humidity and precipitation, frequent freeze-thaw cycles, soils ranging from clay to sand, and a very hot sun at high altitude.”

There’s just one caveat—not all plants are hardy everywhere in Colorado. Most of the demonstration gardens are at lower altitudes than my 7,100 feet. And while the map says I’m in zone 5, if the plant is at all pricey, I feel safer if it’s rated to zone 4.

Every year, I look forward to discovering what plants will be added to the ever-growing PlantSelect® list. Perhaps one or more will be just what I need for that gap in my landscaping There are seven winners this year.

Dwarf Leadplant (Amorpha nana) gives new meaning to the concept of low maintenance gardening. Once established, you don’t even need to water it! Leprechaun Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum ‘Leprechaun’) is a fluffy green perennial in sun or shade. Mongolian Snowflakes (Clematis hexapetala) has seed pods as pretty as its flowers. Indigo Blue Dragonhead (Dracocephalum ruyschiana) resembles a dark periwinkle version of red or yellow Pineleaf Penstemon; the plants would likely look terrific planted as companions.

Golden Candles (Thermopsis lupinoides) is imported from Russia. I’ve long been familiar with our Colorado Thermopsis species,  commonly known as Golden Banner, as it grew wild in the field at our previous house. It was among the first wildflowers to bloom each spring. This species is a larger plant, reaching 3 x 3 feet. Its attractive foliage fills the border all summer, long after the early bloom is over.

Then there are two closely related Stachys lavandulifolia cultivars—Pink Cotton Lamb’s Ear (Stachys lavandulifolia, Green Form)  and Summer Frost Pink Candy (Stachys lavandulifolia ‘P020S’ Silver Form). For the first time, gardeners will be growing Lamb’s Ears, not just for the fuzzy leaves, but for these pretty pink flowers. As a bonus, they’re rabbit and deer resistant!

PlantSelect logoYou can read more about these, plus all the previous winners, on the PlantSelect® website. Then find them in your local nursery come spring. We can always make room for at least one new plant, right?

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