Plants that take the heat – tips from the experts

With record-breaking temperatures last week, we thought we’d see what the landscape experts had to say about the best plants for Colorado’s climate. Thanks to Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado for these ideas.

Flowers ALCC
Have you noticed that the heat wave this week has peonies drooping and other thirsty plant varieties wilting around the edges?

 This is a reminder that our high-altitude yards are in a semi-arid region. This is where the extremes of weather ravage the plants and water is precious. It’s tough growing!

Thankfully, we have experts like Panayoti Kelaidis, chief curator at Denver Botanic Gardens, the team of CSU horticulturists and pros in the green industry who work hard to develop plants that actually LIKE to grow here. We’re grateful to you for bringing us Plant Selects!

Another cool thing about Plant Select plants is that many of them either attract or repel wildlife. In urban environments with so much space taken by buildings, pavement and lawns, there are few nectar resources for hummingbirds and butterflies — or pollen sources for bees. Attracting pollinators is especially important to grow edibles.

And if that other Colorado gardening hazard — deer — is ruining your yard, Plant Select has help there, too. Many of the plants that are low-water, heat lovers and attract pollinators, are not appetizing to deer. All of these factors make the following plants very sustainable choices for Colorado yards.

Wild Thing.

Wild Thing.

Wild Thing & Furman’s Red sage — altitude limit: 5,500 ft.

Little to no water is needed for these plants once established and they thrive in the heat. Aromatic leaves make them undesirable to deer. Flowers of intense magenta/red/hot pink bloom from mid-summer until frost.

Plants that grow to 6,000 ft.

  • Platinum Sage — Lower-growing plant. Silvery foliage adds interesting color all season — and it has intense blue flowers in the early summer.
  • Hyssop: Coronado Red & Coronado Orange — They thrive in summer heat and have abundant flowers that bloom mid/late summer. They are a good choice for late-season color after the earlier perennials like Platinum Sage have stopped blooming. Grows up to 24 inches tall to 18 inches wide.
  • Turquoise Tails Sedum — a ground cover for the front of the garden or rock garden. Needs NO WATER once established. Has creamy yellow flowers early in summer; attracts bees and is irtually deer resistant.

Plants that grow to 7,000 ft. 

Shadow Mountain.

Shadow Mountain.

Pike’s Peak Purple and Shadow Mountain Penstemon — Flowers in purple and lavender have a long bloom time. They are very low maintenance. Cut them to the ground in the spring and they come back.

Every perennial on this list not only takes the heat, but attracts pollinators, deters deer and needs little water once established.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Julia Manchester on June 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks for the tips and ideas. Thanks, too, for pointing out that the Botanic Gardens has to work with the same restrictions that we have.


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