no. 7.231

Xeriscaping: Perennials and Annual Flowers

by J.E. Klett and C. Wilson1(2/10)

Quick Facts...

  • Nurseries carry a greater selection of native and adapted water wise perennials and annuals than ever before.
  • Wider plant availability supports new directions in western flower gardens.
  • Use this list of perennial and annual plants as a tool for exploring expanded garden possibilities.

Wet climate landscapes have molded perceptions of flower gardens and ingrained the names of the flowers they contain through literature, painting, photography and more. Dry climate gardens by contrast often have evoked images of sparseness and scarcity. No more.

A new view of water wise gardens has evolved from the creativity and experimentation of gardeners. It is supported by the wider availability of native and adapted plants from high altitude dry climates around the world. Plant marketing efforts from nurseries and the Plant Select® program have fostered this plant revolution. Plant Select® seeks to identify and distribute plants best for intermountain and high plains gardens (www.plantselect.org)

Growing on less water does not mean water wise gardens are lacking. They can be colorful, include a wide variety of plants, and delight as much as the traditional English garden border. They can also be subtle and evocative of the wide open skies and intense light of the natural western landscape.

Figure 1: Gaillardia x grandiflora Goblin (lower right) and Sedum sp. (center left). Figure 2: Berlandiera lyrata and Lavanula angustifolia. Figure 3: Rudbeckia fulgida (top) and Erigeron sp. (below)
Figure 1: Perennials Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Goblin' (lower right) and Sedum sp. (center left). Figure 2: Perennials Berlandiera lyrata and Lavandula angustifolia. Figure 3: Rudbeckia fulgida (top) and Erigeron sp. (below)
Figure 4: Denver City County Building Garden (Zauschneria Garrettii Figure 5: Native Blue Penstemon strictus (left) and P. grandiflorus Prairie Jewell (center and right).
Figure 4: Denver City County Building Perennial Gardens (Zauschneria garrettii) Figure 5: Perennials Native blue Penstemon strictus (left) and P. grandiflorus Prairie Jewel® (center and right).
Figure 6: Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita”. Figure 7: Delosperma Mesa Verde (front)
Figure 6: Annuals Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita'. Figure 7:Perennials Delosperma Mesa Verde® (front) D. nubigenum (back).
Figure 8: Rudbeckia  ‘Autumn Colors’ 040(15)  
Figure 8: Annuals Rudbeckia ‘Autumn Colors'  

Grasses, perennials and wildflowers native to the Rocky Mountain West are frequently found in the modern Colorado flower garden. Annuals easy on water use are seasonally mixed in. Introduced plants from the high and dry areas of the Andes, Himalayas, the Middle East and South Africa are often included. This list of perennials and annuals includes native and adapted plants for the water wise flower garden. Use it as a tool to explore the expanded garden possibilities in the West.

For additional plant suggestions, see other native plant and xeriscape fact sheets available from Colorado State University Extension.

Perennials
Botanical Name
Common Name
Culivars Flower Color

Bloom
Period

Height Comments/
Cultural hints
Achillea hybrids
Yarrow
‘Moonshine’
Light Yellow
Jun-Sep
18-36" Feathery foliage, vigorous, clump forming
Achillea filipendula
Fernleaf yarrow
‘Coronation Gold’

‘Parker’s Variety’
Bright yellow

Golden yellow

Jun-Sep

Jun-Sep

36-42"

36-48"

Gray-green foliage, heat tolerant

Weak stems - may require
staking

Achillea
millefolium

Common yarrow

‘Paprika’


‘Red Beauty’



‘Summer Pastels’

‘Terra Cotta’

Red with yellow centers

Crimson red



Pastel mix


Peach pink

Jun-Sep


Jun-Sep



Jun-Sep


Jun-Sep

18-24"’


18-24"’



18-24"’


30-36"

Soft, feathery green foliage, vigorous spreading nature
Gray-green feathery foliage,
aggressive spreading clump
Feathery foliage, forms clumps

Silvery feathery foliage,
spreading nature

Achillea ptarmica
The Pearl yarrow
‘The Pearl’
WhiteJun-Sep 12-18"Small sprays of double, buttonlike flowers, open habit, good cut flower
Agastache
aurantiaca

Hyssop
Coronado®

Coronado® Red

Orange

Red

Jul-Oct

Jul-Oct

15-18"

15-18"

Silvery green leaves, minty fragrance, Plant Select® plants
Agastache cana
Hummingbird’s
mint




Sonoran Sunset®
Pink



Lavender rose

Jul-Oct



Jul-Oct

24-36"



12-18"

Gray green aromatic foliage, upright clumps

More compact than species, longer blooming, Plant Select® plant

Agastache rupestris
Sunset hyssop
  Salmon pink Jul-Oct
24-36"
Gray green aromatic foliage, Plant Select® plant
Agastache hybrid
Anise hyssop
‘Blue Fortune’
Blue violet Jul-Oct 24-48"Dark green leaves on stout stems
Alcea rosea
Hollyhock
Chater’s series
‘Watchman’

Mix

Maroon

Jul-Sep

July-Sep

60-72"

60-72"

Cutting back stalks encourages continuing bloom
Antennaria
parvifolia

Pussytoes
  Pink May-Jun 2-6"
Wooly silvery-gray leaves
Aquilegia
chrysantha

Yellow columbine





Denver Gold®
Yellow May-Aug
24-36"
Recurrent bloom if cut back.
Southwestern native.

Plant Select® plant.

Aquilegia
Remembrance®
columbine
‘Swan Violet & White’
Violet-blue and white May-Jun
18-24"
Hybrid developed from native A. caerulea to honor the memory of those shot at Columbine High School. Plant Select® plant
Aurinia saxitalis
Basket-of-gold
  Yellow Apr 6-12"
Narrow gray-green leaves contrast with bright flowers in bloom.
Baptisia australis
False indigo
  Blue May-Jun 36-48"
Attractive brown seed pods. Blue green foliage.
Berlandiera lyrata
Chocolate flower
  Yellow Jun-Sep 12-24" Southeastern Colorado native. Chocolate fragrance from daisy-like flowers. Plant Select® plant
Callirhoe involucrata
Prairie winecups
  Magenta pink Jun-Sep 6-12" Trailing stems sprawl 2 to 3 feet. Plant Select® plant
Calylophus
serrulatus

Sundrops

‘Prairie Lode’
Yellow
Jun-Sep 6" Spreading ground cover.PlantSelect®
Centaurea montana
Mountain bluet /
Perennial
bachelor
button
  Violet-blue Jun-Jul 18-24" Spidery cornflowers. Vigorous grower that self-seeds.
Centranthus ruber
Red valerian or
Jupiter’s Beard




‘Albus’

Reddish pink

White

Jun-Aug
24" Sprawling plant with blue-green leaves. Reseeds. Deadhead to promote continual blooming.
Cerastium
tomentosum

Snow in summer

  White May-Jun 6-12"
Silvery gray foliage. Needs well drained soil.
Coreopsis
auriculata

Dwarf coreopsis

‘Nana’
Yellow-orange
May-Sep 6-8" Low clump former with evergreen foliage. Dead head flowers.
Coreopsis
grandiflora

Dwarf double
coreopsis
‘Sunray’
Golden yellow
Jun-Aug
24"
Double flowers. Spoon-like vibrant green leaves. Compact plant.
Coreopsis
lanceolata

Lanceleaf
coreopsis

  Yellow Jun-Jul 18-24" Long-lived, fine textured plant with shiny green leaves.
Coreopsis
verticillata

Fernleaf coreopsis
‘Moonbeam’

‘Zagreb’

Pale yellow

Golden yellow

Jun-Sep 18-24"

12-18"

Finely dissected, bright green foliage.
Deep green thread-like leaves.
Delosperma cooperi
Purple iceplant

  Violet purple May-Jun 2-4' Succulent gray-green leaves turn red-purple in winter.
Delosperma
nubigenum

Yellow iceplant

  Yellow May-Jul 1-2" Mound of succulent leaves turn purplish in winter.
Delosperma
hybrids
Lavender Ice™
Mesa Verde®
Table Mountain®
Lavender

Salmon pinik

Fuchsia

May-Aug 2-4"
Succulent gray-green leaves. Plant Select® plants
Echinacea purpurea
Purple coneflower

‘White Swan’

‘Magnus’

White

Dark pink

Jul-Sep 24-36"


Erect prairie wildflower, daisy-like flowers, deep green leaves.
Echium amoenum
Red Feathers

  Russet red May-Jul 12-16"
Base rosette of foliage with spikes of feathery flowers. Plant Select® plant
Erigeron hybrids
Fleabane daisy

‘Azure Fairy’
Pink-purple
Blue with yellow eye
Jun-Jul
18-24" Grow in well-drained soil, deadhead for rebloom
Eriogonum
umbellatum

Sulfur flower

Kannah Creek®
Yellow May-Jul 6-12"

Dark green mat of foliage with umbrella-like flowers
Kannah Creek® foliage turns a rich red in winter - Plant Select®

Eryngium planum
Sea holly
  Blue Jun-Aug 12-24" Silver-blue flower heads dry well.
Eschscholzia
californica

California poppy

  Yellow-orange Jun-Sep 12-24" Fine blue green leaves. Short-lived perennial at low elevations, annual at high elevations. Reseeds easily.
Gaillardia aristata
Native blanket
flower

  Yellow Jun-Aug 18-24"Fuzzy, green clump of foliage, flowers have reddish brown to orange centers
Gaillardia x
grandiflora

Blanket flower

‘Burgundy’

‘Goblin’

Red

Red with yellow

Jun-Aug 18-24"

18-24"

Wine red flowers

Compact growth

Gaura lindheimeri
Whirling butterflies
‘Crimson Butterflies’
‘Siskiyou Pink’

Pink

Pink

Jul-Sep
15-18"
Dark crimson leaves

Deep pink flowers with white stamens

Gazania linearis
Colorado Gold®
Hardy gazania
  Yellow orange May-Oct 4-6" Deep green linear leaves, blooms open in sunny weather. Plant Select® plant
Gypsophila
paniculata

Baby’s breath

‘Bristol Fairy’

‘Pink Fairy’

White

Light pink

Jun-Aug

36-48”

18-24"

Double white airy flowers

Light pink double flowers
Both useful as cut flowers

Helianthemum
nummularium

Sunrose
Many White, pink, yellow, red, orange May-Jul 8-12" Numerous cultivars with various flower colors and silvery to deep green foliage
Hemerocallis spp.
Daylily
Many Red, orange, yellow, purple, white Jun-Jul 12-48" Clumps of long, medium green, grass-like leaves, leafless flower stalks bear bell-shaped flowers
Iberis sempervirens
Candytuft
  White Apr-Jun 12-18" Glossy green foliage, shear after bloom, may repeat bloom in fall
Iris hybrids Many Blue, white, red, purple, yellow, orange, bi-colors May-Jun 8-30" Sword like leaves add vertical accent to the garden, makes good cut flower
Knautia macedonica
Knautia
  Burgundy Jun-Aug 18-36" Foliage clumps give rise to many openly branched flower stems, reseeds
Kniphofia uvaria
Torch lily
  Red, orange, yellow, bi-colors Jul-Sep 24-48" Vertical flower spikes arise from clumps of grasslike foliage, blooms from bottom of spike upward

Kniphofia caulescens
Regal Torch Lily

  Golden, crimson and ivory tri-color   40" PlantSelect® Plant
Lavandula
angustifolia

English lavender

‘Hidcote’

‘Munstead’

Lavender blue

Lavender blue

May-Sep

12-18"

12-18"

Aromatic blooms and foliage, semievergreen, woody stems
Liatrus spicata
Gayfeather

‘Kobold’

‘Floristan Violet’

‘Floristan White’

Rose

Violet purple


White

Jul-Sep 18-36" Clumps of grassy foliage, bottle brush blooms, good cut flower
Limonium latifolium
Sea lavender
  Lavender purple Jul-Sep 18-24" Spoon-shaped, leathery clump of leaves, Cloud of airy flowers
Linum perenne
Blue flax

  Blue May-Jun 12-24" Sky blue flowers on airy stems, self-seeds
Lychnis coronaria
Rose campion

  Purple-red May-Jul 18-36" Silvery gray rosette of foliage, reseeds
Mirabilis multiflora
Desert four o’clock
  Purplish red Jun-Sep 12-30" Blue green leaves, trumpet shaped flowers, southern Colorado native
Nepeta spp.
Catmint
‘Six Hills Giant’

‘Walkers Low’


Little Trudy®

Lavender May-Oct 24-36"


18-24"


8-12"

Fragrant gray-green leaves on square stems, spreading habit, trim back after bloom.

Plant Select® plant

Oenothera
macrocarpa subsp. Incana

Evening primrose
Silver Blade® Yellow May-Sep 4" Silver leaves compliment clear yellow flowers. Grow in well-drained soils. Plant Select® plant
Papaver orientale
Oriental poppy
  Orange, salmon, red
May-Jun 24-30"
Very drought hardy, foliage dies in summer.
Penstemon
grandiflorus
Prairie Jewel®
penstemon
White, lavender, rose-pink, purple-violet May
18-36" Strain of Great Plains penstemons with giant flowers. Attractive silvery leaf rosettes. Plant Select® plant
Penstemon
linarioides
var.
coloradoensis
Silverton® bluemat penstemon
Lavender-blue May-Jun 8-12" Spreading silvery mounds of evergreen leaves. Plant Select® plant
Penstemon
rostriflorus

Bridges’
penstemon
  Scarlet red Jul-Sep
12-36" Southwestern native penstemon notable for late summer bloom period. Plant Select® plant
Phlox subulata
Creeping phlox
  White, red, blue, pink Mar-Apr
4-6"
Plants form blankets of green leaves covered with small, star-shaped flowers
Pulsatilla vulgaris
Pasqueflower
  Purple
Mar-Apr
6-12" Silvery buds open to cup-shaped blooms, fuzzy seedheads persist into summer
Rudbeckia fulgida
Black-eyed Susan

‘Goldsturm’
Golden yellow Jul-Aug 18-24" Golden yellow flowers with dark brown to black centers
Salvia argentea
Silver sage

  White Jun-Jul

24-36"

Silky hairs on large leaves makes this a superior foliage plant. Plant Select® plant
Salvia nemerosa
Sage

‘May Night’

‘Rose Queen’

Violet blue

Rose pink

Jun-Aug
18-24" Erect flower stalks with gray-green foliage, repeat bloom if cut back after first bloom finishes
Satureja montana var. illyrica
Purple winter
savory
  Purple-blue
Aug-Sep 4-6"
Evergreen mounds with late-season showy flowers. Plant Select® plant
Sedum acre
Goldmoss
stonecrop
  Yellow May-Jun
2-4" Star-like flowers on short stems with bright green leaves
Sedum
Autumn Joy
stonecrop
‘Autumn Joy’ Salmon pink
Aug-Sep
18-24" Upright clump bears thick, rounded, blue-green leaves with flat flower clusters
Sedum spurium
Dragon’s Blood
stonecrop
‘Dragon’s Blood’ Rose red Jun-Jul
2-4"
Mats of red-rimmed foliage turn blood-red in fall and winter
Veronica liwanensis
Turkish veronica
  Cobalt-blue Apr-Jun
1-2" Flat, evergreen mats of glossy leaves. Plant Select® plant
Veronica ‘Reavis’
Crystal River® veronica Blue Apr-Jun 2-3" Fast-growing vigorous masses of foliage. Plant Select® plant
Viola corsica
Corsican violet
  Purple Apr-Sep 6-8"
A drought tolerant violet. Plant Select® plant
Zauschneria
garrettii
(Epilobium garettii
synonymous)
Orange carpet® hummingbird
trumpet
Orange-scarlet
Jul-Aug 4-6" Spreading perennial from Idaho with masses of bloom. Plant Select® plant
Zinnia grandiflora
Paperflower
  Yellow Jun-Sep 6" Long lasting bloom, drought enduring.
Annuals that require one quarter to one half inch of additional water per week
Botanical Name
Common Name
Exposure Flower
Color
Bloom
Time
Height Hardiness
Centaurea cyanus
Cornflower,
Bachelor Button
Sun – Part shade White, Pink, Blue, Purple
Jun-Sep 15-20"
Hardy, reseeds
Cosmos bipinnatis
Cosmos

Sun Pink, White, Purple
Jul-Sep 36-48" Tender, reseeds
Gazania rigens
Gazania

Sun
White, Yellow, Orange
Jun-Oct 8-10" Half-hardy
Gomphrena globosa
Globe Amaranth

Sun White, Pink,
Lavender
Jun-Oct
12-24" Tender
Lantana camara
Lantana
Sun – Part shade Yellow, White,
Orange, Numerous
Jun-Sep 12-24" Tender
Lobularia maritima
Sweet Alyssum

Sun – Part shade White, Violet,
Maroon
May-Sep 4-8"
Hardy
Mirabilis jalapa
Four O’Clocks
Sun – Part shade Yellow, Pink, Red, White Jul-Sep 18-30" Tender, reseeds
Petunia x hybrida
Petunia

Sun – Part shade Pink, White, Yellow, Violet, Red, Blue, Various Jun-Oct 8-15"
Half hardy
Portulaca
grandifloria

Rose Moss
Sun
Pink, Red, White, Yellow, Orange, Numerous Jul-Oct 6-8"
Tender
Sanvitalia
procumbens

Creeping Zinnia,
Trailing
Sanvitalia

Sun Yellow, Orange Jun-Sep
6-8" Tender
Senecio cineraria
Dusty Miller

Sun
White-Silver foliage N/A
8-12" Hardy
Tithonia rotundifolia
Mexican
Sunflower

Sun Orange, Red
Aug-Oct
12-40" Tender
Scaevola aemula
Fan Flower
Sun
White, Blue, Violet Jul-Oct 6-12"
Tender
Annuals that require one half to one inch of additional water per week
Botanical Name
Common Name
Exposure Flower Color Bloom Time Height Hardiness
Catharanthus roseus
Periwinkle, vinca
Sun White, Violet, Rose, Purple Jun-Oct 8-14" Tender
Cleome hassleriana
Cleome, Spider
Flower
Sun Pink, White, Purple Jul-Sep 36-48" Tender
Dianthus
chinensi
s
China Pinks
Sun – Part shade White, Pink, Rose, Red May-Sep 8-12" Hardy
Helichrysum
bracteatum

Strawflower
Sun
White, Rose, Yellow, Orange, Crimson Aug-Oct 10-30"
Hardy
Ipomea batatus
Sweet Potato Vine

Sun-Part shade Not important N/A 12-24"
Vining
Tender
Limonium sinuatum
Notchleaf Statice

Sun White, Yellow, Blue, Lavender
Aug-Oct 12-24"
Hardy
Nierembergia
hippomanica
violaceae

Cup Flower
Sun Violet, Lavender, White
Jun-Sep 8-12"
Half hardy
Osteospermum species
African Daisy,
Cape Daisy
Sun
White, Yellow, Lavender, Pink, Orange
Jun-Sep 10-18"
Half hardy
Pennisetum
setaceum

Fountain Grass
Sun
Grown for foliage & plume Jul-Oct
24-40" Half hardy
Pentas lanceolata
Egyptian Star
Flower
Sun Red, White, Pink
Jun-Sep 12-20" Tender
Rudbeckia hirta pulcherimma
Gloriosa Daisy
Sun
Yellow, Orange
Jul-Oct 12-30" Hardy
Salvia farinacea
Mealycup Sage
Sun – Part shade Blue, Lavender, White, Rose Jul-Oct 12-30" Half hardy
Tagetes species
Marigold

Sun
Yellow, Orange, White, Mahogany Jun-Oct
6-30"
Half hardy
Tropaeolum majus
Nasturtium
Sun Red, Orange, Yellow Jun-Sep 12" Tender
Verbena x hybrida
Garden Verbena
Sun
White, Pink, Rose, Lavender, Red, Violet Jun-Oct 12-18" Tender
Zinnia hybrids
Zinnia
Sun
White, Yellow, Red, Orange, Pink, Rose Jun-Oct

8-36"

Tender
Annuals that require one to one and a half inches of additional water per week
Botanical Name
Common Name
Exposure Flower Color Bloom Time Height Hardiness
Ageratum
houstonianum

Mexican Floss
Flower

Sun – Part shade
Lavender, Pink, Blue, White
Jun-Oct

8-12"

Tender
Antirrhinum majus
Snapdragon

Sun White, yellow, pink, bronze, various
May-Oct 6-30"
Hardy
Argyranthemum species
Marguerite Daisy

Sun White, Yellow, Pink, Various Jun-Oct 6-36"
Half hardy
Bacopa species
Bacopa, Water
Hyssop

Sun – Part shade Pink, White, Lavender, Various May-Sep
3-6" Tender
Celosia plumosa
Feather
Cockscomb

Sun Yellow, Orange, Red, Pink
Jul-Sep 15-24" Tender
Heliotropium
arborescens

Heliotrope

Sun Blue, purple
Jun-Sep
10-20" Tender
Impatiens walleriana
Impatiens
Sun – Shade White, Pink, Rose, Red, Blue, Copper
Jun-Sep 6-12"
Tender
Lobelia erinus
Lobelia

Sun-Part shade Blue, purple, white
May-Sep
4-12" Tender
Nicotiana alata
Nicotiana

Sun Red, white, pink, lime-green
Jun-Sep 10-60"
Tender
Pelargonium x hortorum
Zonal Geranium

Sun White, Pink, Rose, Red, Orange
May-Oct 12-20"
Half hardy
Viola x wittrockiana
Pansy – Ladies
Delight
Sun - Part shade
White, Blue, Violet, Yellow, Orange, Maroon All year
4-8"
Very hardy

1 J. E. Klett, Colorado State University Extension landscape horticulturist and professor, department of horticulture and landscape architecture; C. R. Wilson, Extension horticulture agent, Denver County. Revised from original “Xeriscaping: Garden flowers” fact sheet authored by J.R. Feucht and J.E. Klett. 6/00. Reviewed 2/10.

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Updated Friday, September 12, 2014

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