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This hybrid of S. nemorosa and S. sylvestris is a drought-tolerant perennial that lends vivid purple-blue hues to the garden from summer to early fall on 1.5- to 3-foot-tall spikes. Deadheading prolongs bloom. The spikes rise from a clump of silvery green leaves that grows to about 2 feet tall and wide.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears abundant pure blue flower spikes in early summer and until fall if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 20 inches tall by 18 inches wide, with wrinkled, softly hairy leaves.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears deep violet-blue flower spikes in early summer and then sporadically if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 2.5 feet tall by 1.5 feet wide, with wrinkled, soft hairy leaves.
This perennial forms a shrubby upright clump 2 feet tall by 1 foot wide, with white mealy stems and glossy green leaves. It bears deep, lavender-blue flowers on tall spikes from early summer to frost. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This compact perennial forms a bush less than 1.5eet tall by 1 foot wide, with indigo stems and glossy green leaves. It bears deep, navy blue flowers on medium spikes from early summer to frost.
This native of Texas and Mexico has a woody base and can form a dwarf, evergreen shrub, 1 foot tall by 1 foot wide. It has small, leathery leaves and bears bright flowers in shades of pink, purple, or yellow from early summer to frost.
This native of the American Southwest and Mexico forms an evergreen shrub or shrubby perennial with dark, glossy leaves that are small (but slightly larger than most microphyllas) and softly toothed. It blooms off and on all summer, and again, more vigorously, in late summer and autumn, in blossoms of cherry-red. Its attractive foliage cloaks the plant to the ground, so it is well suited to the front of the border. It can grow to 4 feet tall and twice as wide.
This drought-tolerant perennial produces flower spikes in shades of violet, purple, or white to pink, with purple bracts. It blooms from early summer to autumn; reblooming is most reliable if spent flowers are promptly deadheaded. It has wrinkled leaves and forms an erect clump 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide. This species is most noted for its many S. sylvestris hybrids.
This drought-tolerant perennial is noted for its vivid indigo flowers along deep purple-black stems, which gives it a bicolor appearance. It blooms in early summer and then sporadically if spent flowers are deadheaded. It forms an upright clump, with the flower spikes rising to 2 feet in height; its wrinkled, softly hairy leaves form a mound 1 foot high. Plants spread 1 or 2 feet wide. These are some of the showiest plants for containers and mixed borders. Butterflies love them.
Cooks and gardeners alike are indebted to this evergreen perennial for the unique, pungent flavor and aroma that its gray-green leaves produce. This cultivar has ornamental value, too—green leaves with white margins which are suffused with pink or purple. It forms a 1- to 1.5-foot-tall and wide bush with woody stems that may be trimmed back to newly emerging growth or strong stems in spring. In early to mid-summer, it sends up lavender-purple flower spikes; it has both ornamental and culinary qualities in an herb garden. It is tolerant of alkaline soils, but cannot survive wet winter conditions.
This woody-stemmed perennial produces sticky spikes of deep violet or, rarely, white to pink flowers. It blooms from early summer to autumn; reblooming is most reliable if spent flowers are deadheaded promptly. It has wrinkled leaves and forms an upright clump 3 feet tall by 1 foot wide. This salvia is most noted for its many hybirds with S. nemerosa.
This dwarf bamboo has deep-green leaves that become bicolored with the onset of autumn. The leaves then exhibit straw-colored margins, which persist into spring in warmer zones. It is a striking plant en masse or as groundcover in a woodland garden. It usually grows to 2 or 3 feet tall, but may reach 5 feet tall in deep shade.
This plant is a rosette-forming evergreen perennial with kidney-shaped to rounded leaves. It produces white flowers with red or yellow spots in summer.
Little bluestem is a tidy, finely textured clumping grass with a blue-green summer color. Its silvery seed heads rise to a height of nearly 2 feet in late summer and are at their best when backlit in the morning or afternoon sun. In fall, the grass turns a rosy rust color that lasts all winter.
This Japanese native is perfect for the rock garden. It is a compact species with blue-green foliage and pink stems, and bears purplish-red flowers in fall. Sedum cauticola grows to about 3 inches tall and a foot wide.
This tough, drought-tolerant species has glossy deep green leaves and, in early summer, half-inch golden yellow flowers that open from pink buds. It grows to about 6 inches tall and a little wider and makes a good groundcover.
This variety is more compact than the species, and its leaves are variegated with creamy margins. In late spring to summer, its star-shaped yellow flowers open from pink buds and mature to crimson. It grows to just 4 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
This is a vigorous, mat-forming evergreen species with small gray-green leaves and terminal clusters of star-shaped, vibrant yellow flowers in summer. The drooping buds face upward when they open. It grows to 4 inches tall and 2 feet across.
This vigorous, mat-forming, evergreen species has electric golden-yellow foliage that holds its color through the heat of summer. The foliage tips sometimes develop an orangey hue. In June and July, 'Angelina' has terminal clusters of star-shaped, vibrant yellow flowers. The drooping buds face upward when they open and the plant can grow to 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide. It is superlative as a groundcover, spilling over rock walls, and in containers. It also makes an excellent accent for plants with dark foliage.
This mat-forming species forms a carpet of rosy-red flowers in late July and August, contrasting against green leaves with bronzy-maroon highlights.
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
Planting Ground Covers
Proper spacing and regular care are the best ways to create a lush, weed-free carpet
by Mary Hirshfeld
Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
Plants for Pathways
These durable creeping perennials discourage weeds and soften the look of a walkway
by Marty Wingate
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