Deb Babcock: Hardy plants for a dry season

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Deb Babcock

Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today.

Find more gardening columns here.

If the snowfall remains as light through the rest of the season as it is now, we may be in for a dry summer in 2010. Therefore, as you look at the plant catalogues for new flowers to place in your garden, consider some of the more drought-tolerant varieties that have proven hardy here in our zone 4 mountain environment.

Routt County master gardeners compiled the list below based on experience with these plants and research conducted by the horticulture professionals at Colorado State University and other Colorado-based green industry growers.

Perennials

Artemisias: Silvery gray or while aromatic foliage

Ice plant: Flashy rich green leaves, small white summer flowers

Blanket flower: Brightly colored red and yellow daisies

Lamb’s ears: Fuzzy gray leaves with magenta flowers

Butterfly flower: Small, orchid-like orange, yellow and red flowers

Lavender cotton: Whitish-gray leaves, bright yellow flower heads

Blue grama: Flowering stems with odd inflorescences springing out at right angles

Little bluestem: Clump-forming grass with narrow leaves

Common thrift: Lilac, rose and white-tufted flower mounds

Penstemon: Narrow, bell-shaped flowers in red, blues and pinks

Coneflower: Showy pink, purple and white flowers

Poppy mallow: 2-inch purplish red mallow type flowers

Coreopsis: Golden yellow daisies, easy to grow

Russian sage: Tiny violet blue flowers

Creeping phlox: Showy mat forming pale to deep pink flower clusters

Stonecrop (sedum): Star-like flowers yellow, white pink and red

Gaura: Branching flower spikes bear blooms of white or pink

Yarrow: Flattish flower heads in white, pinks and yellow

Annuals

Bachelor buttons: Narrow gray-green leaves, button flowers in pinks, blue rose or white

Mexican sunflower: Bold, orange Mexican sunflower

California poppy: Single, satiny petaled flowers from pale yellow to deep orange

Nasturtium: Bright green leaves in long stalks, long-spurred fragrant flowers in many colors

Cock’s comb: Plum flower clusters in brilliant shades

Periwinkle: Phlox-like flowers in white, pink or bright rose

Cosmos: Showy summer and fall blooms in many colors

Portulaca (moss rose): Lustrous petal flowers shaped like tiny roses

Dwarf “morning glory”: Sun-loving mounded plants in red pink and blue

Sanvitalia: Golden trailing zinnia look alike

Ganzia: Silvery-gray foliage, trailing stems flowers are yellow, white orange or bronze

Spider flower: Fluffy clusters of pink or white, flower with long protruding stamens

Globe amaranth: Clover-like heads in white pink, lavender or purple

Sunflower: Giant orange/yellow and black flower

Johnny-jump-up: Original pansies

Sweet alyssum: White pink or violet flower with sweet honey fragrance

To ensure success planting, it helps to first prepare your soil by loosening it down about a foot and amending it with compost. If you apply a couple of inches of mulch between the plantings, you’ll help conserve water in the soil and keep weeds from cropping up and stealing water from your plants. Also to help conserve water, keep fertilizer to a minimum because that causes lush growth requiring the plant to take up more water. Slow-drip and deep-root watering systems also will help keep water evaporation to a minimum.

Deb Babcock is a master gardener through the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office. Call 970-879-0825 with questions.

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