5 Must-have Perennials for Your Water-wise Colorado Garden

It’s the hottest topic for Colorado gardeners right now — waterwise gardening. How can we make the most of our landscape while using less water and supporting local pollinators at the same time? Choosing the right plant for the right location is always a recipe for success! Following are five of the best performing plants for our region.

Zauschneria Orange Carpet

(Epilobium canum ssp. garrettii)
Height: 4″-6″
Width: 18″-24″
Sun requirements: full sun to partial sun
USDA Hardiness: Zones 3-8

Rapidly spreading groundcover with masses of orange-scarlet flowers in summer. A selection made from seed collected in Idaho, this is the best form of California fuchsia for high altitude or cool climate gardens. To help establish new transplants, provide supplemental winter water for the first couple of years if winter conditions are dry. Needs full sun for best growth. Thrives in disturbed soils – aerate surrounding soil with push aerator or spading fork from time to time.

Bluemat Penstemon
Waggon Wheel

(Penstemon caespitosus)
Height: 1″-2″
Width: 12″-14″
Full Sun
USDA Hardiness: Zones 4-

Tiny, spoon-like leaves sprout on prostrate stems that grow into circular, evergreen mats, outfitting this plant’s name, Waggon Wheel Bluemat Penstemon. Centimeter-long tubular flowers glow blue to lavender throughout the foliage from early June to July. Native to Colorado and Wyoming mountains, it prefers well-drained soil, but is adaptable to clay loam conditions. It does not like to be over-watered, making it perfect for water-wise gardens!

Leprechaun Southernwood

(Artemisia abrotanum)
Height: 24″-36″
Width: 24″-30″
Sun, Shade, Partial Sun
USDA Hardiness: Zones 4-8

A compact selection of the ancient garden herb that forms a dense, symmetrical mound of whorled silver-green foliage. Plant en masse to create a low garden hedge suggestive of boxwood but heat-loving! Cut back in January to early spring when fully dormant. Tolerant of shady conditions as well as full sun.

Showy Milkweed

(Asclepius speciosa)
Height: 4-6 ft.
Width: 4 ft.
Full Sun
USDA Hardiness: Zones 3-8

Showy milkweed is similar in form to common milkweed but less aggressive, making it more manageable in a garden setting. Spiky pink flowers atop thick upright stems bloom June through August. Monarch butterflies lay eggs exclusively on plants in the Asclepias genus. With this plant in your garden, you’re sure to see monarchs!

Poppy Mallow Winecups

(Callirhoe involucrata)
Height: 4″-6″
Width: 24″-30″
Full Sun
USDA Hardiness: Zones 4-

Also known as simply “winecups.” A native wildflower that decorates the garden with a summer-long display of bright magenta-pink flowers. A sprawling grower, Callirhoe involucrata’s long branches spread out across the ground to create a colorful mat of flowers and foliage. This plant will cascade over a rock wall or will make a good rock garden plant. Blooms appear July through September.

We have plenty of different types of perennial plants for almost any landscape. You can use our plant finder reference tool to search for more water-wise plants. Once you have an idea of what kind of plants you’re looking for, come in and see us! Our experts are always happy to provide advice and answer any questions you may have.