Must-have flowers/plants for the new Colorado gardening season

Must-have flowers/plants for the new Colorado gardening season

Elanos Rose Geranium, a lightly scented deep pink geranium with an upright spreading habit (14 x 14 inches) deserves a place in group plantings, borders, baskets and containers. (Deborah King, provided by Tagawa Gardens)

Visits to the garden center to explore new season plants can equal the excitement of arriving at a long-awaited destination you’ve never been to before on vacation. Is it the novelty of both activities that gets the heart racing and ready to explore?

Here are some of the newest must-have perennials and annuals for the upcoming outdoor gardening season. Note: This is a drop in the garden bucket when you see a plethora of plants waiting for you this spring.

Perennial plants

“Introducing new plants adds energy to the customer’s buying experience,” said Joel Russell, a Colorado certified nursery professional and permanent director and buyer at Echter’s Nursery & Garden Center in Arvada. This year, Echter’s has 30 plants that are new to the market or new to Echter. Joel knows his clients and helps them achieve growing success by asking questions about where plants will be located in the landscape, taking into account the plant’s sun and water requirements.

“Many customers want traditional hydrangeas and boxwoods, but hydroponic plants that need less water once established are very popular, and growing in popularity.”

Petunia Hybrid Itsy Purple. Take container gardening to another level of blooming with this bright little purple, super-growing petunia. (Deborah King, provided by Tagwai Gardens)

Russell’s top perennial picks for 2024:

  • Scabiosa columbaria Giga Silver, common name Pincus flower. New pincushion has more vigor and volume than standard blue. Zone 5, full sun (very heat tolerant), well-drained soil, moderate irrigation. Touch of electric lavender outer petals with creamy white centers and dense silvery leaves, 15-20 inches tall and 10-15 inches wide. It blooms in spring through summer. Dead end to keep the blooms coming. Deer and drought resistant once established. It works well in container plantings, borders, rock gardens and cuttings. Loved by butterflies.
  • Baptisia Escape Grape, common name False Indigo. Gardeners who know baptismal plants know that they are not only low maintenance, but they are also long-lasting from their deep roots. They look gorgeous in and out of bloom with their pea-like flowers and lush foliage. The Grape Escape is a plant to behold, with deep purple petals and cream to yellow keels (lower petals) that bloom above dense green foliage from late spring into summer. Zone 4, full sun to partial shade, moderate moisture (drought tolerant once established), tolerates poor soil, deer resistant, 42 to 48 inches tall and 32 to 40 inches wide. Plant as a specimen, behind borders, use for cutting, flowers look great in a vase. Choose the location carefully; Baptism does not like to move. Attractive to many types of bees and pollinators.

Ross Shrigley, CEO of Plant Select, is your go-to horticulturist for what plants should grow in every garden. Plant Select is Colorado’s leading brand of plants tested to thrive in the challenging growing conditions of the high plains and mountains. Each year she offers plants that are easily recognizable and found in many independent garden centres. Check out the Plant Select website for hundreds of other plants in searchable categories to fit your landscape. Design ideas are also available, along with many other useful resources.

This new Pincushion flower works well in container plantings, borders, rock gardens and cuttings – plus, butterflies love it. (Joel Russell, provided by Shutters)

Shrigley’s Best Perennial Picks for 2024:

  • Teucrium Harlequin’s Silver, common name Eversilver creeping germander. To say that a ground cover has year-round appeal is high praise. Eversilver easily lives up to this status as a bright, low-growing carpet of silvery foliage. It blooms in early summer with beautiful purple flowers and often blooms in the fall. Take a piece of the leaf and crush it to get a pleasant scent of what is described as pineapple honey. Deer and rabbits usually avoid it. Zone 5, full sun, drought tolerant once established and grows in well-drained, alkaline, rocky to sandy soil, growing to 4 inches tall and 36 inches spread. Trim off any dead foliage each spring; Otherwise, there is no need for maintenance. Plant Everstilver in the toughest parts of the landscape – between streets, sidewalks (Hellstrips), borders and rock gardens. Loved by pollinators.

Annual plants

Deborah King, annual superintendent/outdoor superintendent for Tagawa Gardens at Centennial, has one goal in mind: to sell dozens of annuals each new gardening season: “Provide our customers with a wide selection as well as the latest in floral and plant materials available.” Our annuals produce instant color as the seasons change. Deborah also sells the best annuals that are selected each year at the Colorado State University Annual Flower Trials. The pilot program, like Plant Select branded plants, is trialled and evaluated for the most important traits gardeners want when Buy Annuals: Flowering, plant vigor, consistency, and ability to withstand the harsh growing conditions of the Rocky Mountain region.

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