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Five Plant Select perennials you should be planting now!

Ever heard of “Plant Select?”  Hopefully, you have.  And if you haven’t, you’ve come to the right place, especially if you’re interested in lowing your water bill and still having plenty of color in your garden.

Plant Select is a joint program that includes plant experts (who’d probably rather be called “plant geeks”) at Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and the “green industry,” including Tagawa Gardens.

The group got together back in the mid-90’s to research and promote plants that are well-suited for growing in our challenging high desert climate, especially plants that prefer less water.   Plant Select now has nearly 150 plants that have been accepted into its program.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the Plant Select perennials.  Some I’m already growing.  Others are sitting on my deck, just waiting to be planted.

Red Birds in a Tree

If you love hummingbirds (and who doesn’t?), you need to grow Red Birds in a tree.  Hummers can’t resist it!

This playful plant starts blooming in early summer and just keeps going and going, Energizer Bunny style.  It grows up to 36″ tall and 20″ wide.  Tiny red flowers resembling little red birds appear at the ends of long arching spikes and bob in the wind with the slightest breeze.

Give your Red Birds full sun and keep them slightly on the dry side.  And just watch the hummers put on a show!

Hopflower Oregano

This plant makes me smile every time I see it because the flowers look a bit alien… a combination of pale lime green, magenta and pink, as seen at the top of this blog.  And then there’s it wonderful habit of gently sprawling, as it’s done in the garden bed next to my driveway.

Hopflower is long-blooming and easy to grow.  Give it full to part sun.  It needs well-drained soil and deep but infrequent watering once it’s been in for a while.  And don’t worry about buying it in a small, 2″ pot.  It’ll do just fine!

Wee One Lavender

I grow a lot of lavender, and love it.  But it can get fairly big.  The beauty of Wee One is that it lives up to its name.

Wee One is a dwarf lavender growing 10″ tall and 15″ wide.  It’s every bit as aromatic as its bigger cousins, putting out lovely lavender-blue flower spikes in late spring.  Wee One needs at least six hours of direct sun daily and well-drained soil.  It’s a slow-grower, but so worth the wait!

SteppeSuns Sunset Glow Penstemon

This is a big name for a not-so-big plant.  I’m not a huge fan of orange in my garden, but this new addition to Plant Select had me at “hello!”

SteppeSuns’ name is a play on the word “steppe,” meaning a semiarid region characterized by flowering plants and grasses and  extremes of heat and cold.   Sound familiar?

SteppeSuns grows 12 to 18″ tall and 18 to 24″ wide, decidedly smaller than many other penstemmons.  SteppeSuns soft orange flowers appear from mid-summer into fall.  It needs full to part-sun and very well-drained soil.   And it’s deer and bunny resistant!

And bring on the “Granitas” in raspberry and orange

If you’re a fan of ice plants, give some thanks to Plant Select.  The program has been bringing in these eye-catching, low-growing succulents for years.  And now:  Granita Raspberry and Granita Orange!

Both of these ice plants have bright iridescent flowers that just pop against their rich green foliage.  At two-inches tall and 12″ wide, they’re a terrific addition to the front of garden beds or on a gentle  slope.

Like other ice plants, the Granitas need full sun and extremely well-drained soil.  Once their roots have established, they’re very drought tolerant.  A word of caution:  make sure the mulch you use around ice plants is some form of small gravel or squeegee.  Organic mulch like wood chips is a deal breaker.

So many plants to choose from!

Just because we’re in the middle of summer, that doesn’t mean you should stop planting.  The Plant Select program has so many interesting perennials to choose from.  All of the plants I’ve mentioned are in good supply right now at Tagawa’s.  Come see us and take home a plant or two that will add some Plant Select can-do to your yard!