Mountain West Regional Reports

Evergreen Perennials for the Mountain West

‘Marian Sampson’ hummingbird coyote mint

Monardella macrantha ‘Marian Sampson’

Zones: 5–9

Size: 4 to 6 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches wide 

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist to dry, well-drained soil

Native range: Southern California, Baja California 

This semi-evergreen, fragrant perennial is part of the Plant Select program, which highlights plants that thrive in the Rocky Mountain region. Its ground-hugging, deep green foliage forms a dense mat. But what makes this plant so spectacular are the clusters of bright red, tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds in late spring. ‘Marian Sampson’ hummingbird coyote mint is perfect for rock gardens, as it does well with gravel mulch. Place it next to boulders to provide a bit of shade in the heat of summer. This perennial is drought tolerant but may benefit from some additional water during the hottest months of the year.

‘Dragon’s Blood’ Caucasian sedum

Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’ syn. Sedum spurium ‘Schorbuser Blut’ 

Zones: 3–9

Size: 3 to 6 inches tall and 1 to 2 feet wide 

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; dry to medium, well-drained soil

Native range: Caucasus region of eastern Europe, Iran, Turkey 

‘Dragon’s Blood’ Caucasian sedum is a fast-growing ground cover that provides year-round interest, either as a specimen plant or when used in a mass planting. The succulent foliage is bright green with burgundy edges in spring and gradually darkens until it becomes a brilliant red in fall. It holds this reddish color through winter. Clusters of starry red flowers put on a show during summer. I deadhead it after flowering to show off the colorful fall foliage, but that’s the only maintenance I provide to this easy-care plant. Not only is ‘Dragon’s Blood’ Caucasian sedum drought tolerant, but it’s also deer and rabbit resistant. 

Narrowleaf yucca

Yucca angustissima

Zones: 5–9

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; dry to moist, well-drained soil 

Native range: Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico 

This native plant thrives in my Zone 5 rock garden. Its light green leaves are quite narrow for a yucca and come to sharp points. The foliage varies in length from 6 to 24 inches long. White, curling filaments form along the leaf edges, softening the plant’s spiky texture. Flower stalks that reach 3 to 7 feet tall emerge in May or June. Narrowleaf yucca’s buds are tinged pinkish-purple and open to thick, waxy, creamy white flowers. This plant is drought tolerant once established and tolerates many different soil types.  

‘Purity’ candytuft

Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’

Zones: 3–8

Size: 6 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide 

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Native range: Southern Europe 

Tiny deep green leaves cover this ground cover throughout the year. A compact variety of candytuft, ‘Purity’ is a show-stopper in spring, with clusters of tiny, bright white blossoms that carpet the plant. Deadheading the flowers after they bloom can help this perennial keep an ­attractive shape. Candytuft prefers well-drained soil and can suffer from rot without it. Most years this plant stays evergreen in our climate, but sometimes it suffers from desiccation or sunscald in winter (although snow cover can prevent this from happening). If that occurs, simply cut it back to green growth in spring and it will regrow quickly.

Michelle Provaznik is the CEO of the American Public Gardens Association, and she gardens in Fort Collins, Colorado.


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