Use perennials for low-water landscaping

7:08 PM, Jul 13, 2012   |    comments
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In one year's time, they have doubled or tripled in size. These plants are thriving, they are showy and they will be back for years to come.

These particular perennials, called Plant Select, were chosen for the 9NEWS garden because they do quite well in spite of Colorado's irritable growing conditions. Most need little water. They can grow at altitudes even higher than along the Front Range. And they can pretty much survive whatever Colorado's changing weather throws at them. That's the power of Plant Select perennials.

As the availability of water is always a concern for residents of our state, our choices in plant materials become more critical. We need less thirsty plants for more sustainable landscapes. That is why water-wise perennials, in general, and Plant Select perennials, in particular, are a wise option.

Plant Selects have been developed through a partnership that includes Colorado State University, the Denver Botanic Gardens and the landscape industry. The goal of this effort is to give Colorado gardeners plants that are both showy and sustainable. 

Here are some of the sustainable benefits you can enjoy by planting more perennials:

• You purchase and plant them once, and they come back in your garden year after year.

• While all plants need extra water to get established in their first growing season, water needs fall off dramatically in the following seasons.

• After growing two or three years, most will need to be divided from one plant into two or more plants. That's an ongoing return on your initial investment.

• They attract pollinators that will be good for the veggie garden.

• Their seeds provide food for birds.

Perennials add changing interest because most plants have a limited bloom time - unlike annuals which bloom the duration of the growing season. This is both the beauty and the challenge of perennial gardening. Having a selection of plants with staged bloom times is critical for ongoing color. To be successful, one group of plants needs to start blooming when the previous group is declining. Consulting with a landscape designer who knows the timing of all the blooms will help you create a garden that's lush with changing, but non-stop color.

Information courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado-sponsors of the 9News Kitchen Garden and the 9News Water Wise Garden. For help with your landscape needs, go to and click on Find a Pro.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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