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Regional Picks: The Experts’ Top Ten Plants – Mountain West

Fine Gardening - Issue 143

Mountain West

 

No. 1

Mojave sage (Salvia pachyphylla)

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 3 feet tall and 30 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; dry, well-drained soil (tolerant of heavy clay, provided it is not overwatered, or sandy loam)

This is, perhaps, the most spectacular, tidy, long-blooming sage you can buy. It flowers from June to first frost and sports thick, gorgeous silver foliage year-round. This plant grows best with minimal or no irrigation, and doesn’t mind an occasional drought.

 

2. Colorado columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) 

Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide

Conditions: Filtered sun to partial shade; moderately moist, well-drained soil

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Crested gentian (Gentiana septemfida)

Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 8 inches tall and 15 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moderately moist, fertile soil

 

4. Blue-leaf red-hot poker (Kniphofia caulescens)

Zones: 5 to 10

Size: 3 feet tall and wide

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

 

5. Lebanese oregano (Origanum libanoticum)

Zones: 5 to 10

Size: 10 inches tall and 20 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; loamy or sandy soil

 

 

 

 

 

6. Pink wild tulip (Tulipa humilis)

Zones: 4 to 8

Size: 7 inches tall and 8 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; dry to moderately dry loamy or sandy soil

 

 

7. Yellow foxtail lily (Eremurus stenophyllus) 

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 4 feet tall (including flower wands) and a 1- to 2-foot-tall and -wide rosette of foliage in spring

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

8. Juno iris (Iris bucharica)

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 10 inches tall and 1 foot wide

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

9. Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)

Zones: 5 to 7

Size: 8 inches tall and 10 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; any moderately moist, fertile loam or sandy soil

10. ‘Lesotho Pink’ ice plant (Delosperma ‘Lesotho Pink’)

Zones: 5 to 7

Size: 1 inch tall and 18 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained loamy soil

 

Panayoti Kelaidis is senior curator and director of outreach at Denver Botanic Gardens in Colorado.

Photos, except where noted: courtesy of Panayoti Kelaidis; courtesy of High Country Gardens; Jerry Pavia; Bill Johnson

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