Southwest Regional Reports

Regional Picks: Short Plants – Southern Plains

Fine Gardening - Issue 190
Plum Dazzled Sedum

See regional picks for short plants, and read the article by Steve Aitken for even more ideas.

“As I began amassing countless short varieties, only some of which worked in my front bed, I started planting shorter plants all over my garden. I would take notice of them, too, in all the gardens I visited, residential and botanical. I made mental notes of how others used small plants: the roles they could play and how essential they are to completing the look of a garden, a bed, or a vignette.” Read more in 10 Small Plants to Grow Now

View the whole collection.


1. ‘Starlight’ Coreopsis

‘Starlight’ Coreopsis

Name: Coreopsis ‘Starlight’

Zones: 5–9

Size: 8 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

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

Native range: North American hybrid

With a compact habit and months of vibrant blooms, ‘Starlight’ sets a new standard for coreopsis. Pure white petals boast magenta strokes that frame the bright yellow center like a shimmering star. Fuchsia hues take over in cool weather, streaking the entire blossom. Perfect for cutting, ‘Starlight’ blooms from early summer through fall without deadheading. Place these disease-resistant plants in masses to edge borders or tuck into containers. Coreopsis tolerates heat and drought once established and is adored by pollinators.


2. ‘Plum Dazzled’ Sedum

‘Plum Dazzled’ Sedum

Name: Sedum ‘Plum Dazzled’

Zones: 4–9

Size: 6 to 8 inches tall and 16 to 18 inches wide

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

Native range: North American hybrid

I love to add season-long color to a border’s edge with the stunning foliage of ‘Plum Dazzled’ sedum. Its succulent, deep purple leaves are complemented by raspberry-hued blooms that stand tall from late summer into autumn. The blooms attract butterflies and make long-lasting cut flowers. This easy-care selection tolerates Mother Nature’s worst, from heat and cold to deer and disease. ‘Plum Dazzled’ thrives in sandy or rocky soils and requires good drainage for optimal performance. Plant it as an accent against yellow blooms or chartreuse foliage for big impact.


3. ‘Ashwood Single Pink Picotee Shades’ Hellebore

‘Ashwood Single Pink Picotee Shades’ Hellebore

Name: Helleborus ‘Ashwood Single Pink Picotee Shades’

Zones: 5–9

Size: 10 to 12 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide

Conditions: Partial to full shade; well-drained soil

Native range: Turkey, Caucasus

Hellebores are the heroes of winter, producing roselike blooms while most of the garden sleeps. Dramatic, deeply lobed evergreen foliage sets the stage for the gorgeous, late winter blooms of ‘Ashwood Single Pink Picotee Shades’. As the name suggests, blooms appear in shades of pink with a distinct dark edge lining each petal. Hellebores are hardy, reliable perennials with sturdy stems, thick foliage, and excellent deer resistance. This plant tolerates dry shade, making it ideal for massing in woodland gardens and edging shady pathways. Remove the flower stalks after blooming to discourage seeding, and cut back the old foliage midwinter.


4. ‘Wiggles and Squiggles’ Hosta

‘Wiggles and Squiggles’ Hosta

Name: Hosta ‘Wiggles and Squiggles’

Zones: 3–9

Size: 8 to 10 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide

Conditions: Partial to full shade; moist, rich, well-drained soil

Native range: Japan

This playful hosta brings vivid color to shady nooks. The long, thin leaves of ‘Wiggles and Squiggles’ spread outward from dense centers, accentuating their wavy margins. The foliage appears chartreuse under heavy shade and brighter yellow when planted on sites with morning sun. Protect the foliage from hot afternoon sun, where it could burn. ‘Wiggles and Squiggles’ tolerates dry shade but benefits from a layer of mulch to conserve soil moisture. Lavender blooms stand above the leaves in midsummer, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to the shade garden.


Kimberly Toscano is a garden designer and educator from Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Photos: courtesy of Monrovia (1); courtesy of Concept Plants (2); Doreen Wynja (3); (4)

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