Gardening with Plant Select®

Mojave Sage with swallowtail butterflyI started as the first Director of Plant Select® almost exactly 2 months ago and I’m interested in finding out more about who uses our web site, what we can do to help you with your gardening challenges, and what you like or don’t like about Plant Select®. Please use this space to ask questions, post your experiences and let us know how we can help keep gardening alive in a busily changing world.

But first, a few comments from a personal perspective…

It’s been a really hard winter in northern Colorado for plants… weird – some things died (like thymes, Globularias, agaves, and some of my conifers), but then other, more tender plants survived – Salvia greggii seedlings, Acer buergerianum, and hardy jasmine. Did all my Plant Select® plants survive? No, but lots of them are alive and thriving, at maybe even better odds than some of my other plants.

I guess the first thing I’d like to say here is that not all Plant Select® plants are going to be hardy for everyone… but I think it’d be safe to say, that all Plant Select® plants are worth trying, especially for us here in the dry steppe areas of the west. I’ve killed my share of Salvia darcyi, Scutellaria suffrutescens, and even some of the Delospermas, but they were still worth trying. I love the challenge, the stories behind the plants, and the feeling of community I get every time I bring them home to try in my own garden in Masonville at 5400′ just west of Fort Collins. And this was true before I became officially involved. Now, I’m determined to push the limits of every plant, and will try to share my experiences.

So, now it’s your turn… we honestly want to hear from you – where do you live, and what Plant Select® plants are working for you? Which survive or even thrive, the deer attacks, the dessicating winds, the summer heat? Sure, we want to hear about the plants that didn’t make it, but I think it’s even more helpful to know what DOES work for you. I really believe that if we can help other gardeners be more successful, we’ll soon achieve world peace and end global climate change… oh wait, that probably won’t happen, but we can at least hope?!?

Happy spring,


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11 Responses to Gardening with Plant Select®

  1. plantgeek says:

    I’m so glad to see a localized gardening blog!

    It’s so nice to be able to share our gardening experiences. I’ve been experimenting for years with various sages and penstemon, to attract hummingbirds, and have managed to get some black throateds to take up residence. I’ll plant just about anything to keep them happy.

  2. Susan says:

    Hi Pat — I blog at the Denver Post’s website, and I’ve been thrilled by my “Silver Blade” evening primrose and my Winecups, both back for their second summer. The Silver Blade came back more slowly than the winecups, but with another cultivar (Commanche Campfire) two out of three plants winter-killed. And my “Sunset” hyssop did beautifully last year. But my salvia greggii did get winter-killed. Maybe I should try “Red Birds in a Tree” scrophularia in that spot on my hell corner (SW facing) instead.

    Good to have you at Plant Select and in the blogosphere!

  3. hikechick says:

    Hi, I am in the process of doing some xeriscape landscaping in my backyard in a border area about 30 ft. long by 5 ft. wide. The plants I have chosen include yellow yarrow, Russian sage, shasta daisies, columbines, and blue fescue grass. The plants are in 8″ diameter pots. Does anyone know how far apart they should be spaced when planting? I am not sure I know how much they will spread. Thanks.

  4. plantselect says:

    The yarrow and sage will spread to about 2’+ wide, the Shastas and columbines really won’t survive well in a true “Xeriscape” and the fescue will probably grow to about 12″ wide. Why don’t you add some of the Plant Select plants that are truly xeric, and that add color, texture and foliar interest throughout the seasons? Penstemons, Agastaches, Oenotheras, Gazanias, Iceplants – there are so, so many that were selected to do well right here. Most of the independent garden centers still have a decent selection of them, hopefully all marked with the Plant Select logo. It’s not too late to jazz your border area up with some really fun, hardy and truly xeric flowers!

  5. plantselect says:

    Susan – Salvia greggi’s are definitely marginal along the central Colorado Front Range and northward, but periodically they do survive – when roots are insulated under rocks or when plants are in very warm, southern exposures. Red Birds in a tree is super cold hardy, but is a very different animal from the greggi’s. If grown in normal garden conditions it gets 3′ tall or more. In super dry or cold or just plain tough places, it’s more compact. If you haven’t tried the Salvia daghestanica yet, you absolutely must – gorgeous all year round with the silver foliage, and in full bloom right now in my garden. Terrific with the osteospermas!

  6. Susan Gibson-Grafe says:

    We are stymied as to how to deal with our really pathetic yard in Gleneagle — we’ve tried saving on watering and now have a HUGE collection of weeds probably much to the dismay of our neighbors — it’s turned into such an overwhelming problem that we don’t even know where to begin or who to turn to. Any suggestions are welcome!

  7. plantselect says:

    For any of you who feel overwhelmed, or just don’t know where to start, my answer will usually be: GO VISIT YOUR LOCAL, INDEPENDENT NURSERY! Call ahead and make an appointment, or just go in and spend some time with a staff person who knows the local environment. If the area in question is small, take a photo with you and tell them about your situation. The nursery person will be able to walk around with you and show you plants and products that will work for your specific situation. If you’re working with an entire landscape (such as Susan mentions), it really is worthwhile to pay for a consultation with a landscape designer.
    Go to http://www.coloradonga (Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association) for a list of local, independent nurseries in CO; visit (Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado) for a list of certified and professional landscape companies. GOOD LUCK!

  8. Linda Sellers says:

    I live in Wyoming in the mountains at 8,000 feet. We are just off the National Forest and I am very concerned about introducing invasive species. Are most of these plants native or proven to be non-invasive? I currently have a possible invasive plant (that is being investigated) which probably came in a packet of native wildflower seeds. I now flinch at trying to introduce new plants into my property.

  9. plantselect says:

    Invasiveness is a serious issue that all gardeners need to be concerned with, so we at Plant Select have included “noninvasiveness” as one of the major protocols that future plants must be evaluated on. We trial potential plants at several locations for evidence of self-seeding and vegetative aggression, and eliminate any that present possible invasive tendencies.
    Many of the plants promoted through the program are natives to the West so you have the option of choosing only Rocky Mountain and Southwestern natives if you choose to- many of our regional natives were chosen to be part of the program specifically because they were wonderful plants but underappreciated and underutilized. Good luck!

  10. gail klodzinski (Rock Garden Nursery) says:

    I have been a serious gardener in the high desert of Eastern Oregon for 15 years. I gardened first for 13 years in Bend, Oregon and currently own a small nursery in John Day Oregon. I started my xeriscape experience in 1995 with plants from High Country Gardens and learned a great deal from their beautiful catalogs. I took the Master Gardener class in Bend and continued to learn from wonderful books by Lauren Springer, Rob Proctor, Betsy Clebsch, Dee Strickler, Beth Chatto and Robert Nold. I recently visited the beautiful Boise Botanical Gardens and purchased the Denver Botanic Garden book, Gardening With Altitude where I learned of this website. I began my nursery adventure 2 years ago and have purchased Plant select plant plugs from Gully Greenhouse in Colorado which have been my best sellers here! Salvias Daghestanica, Pachyphylla, all the Penstemon, Agastaches, Scrophularia, Nepeta and Ice Plants have done wonderfully. Marginally hardy were the Salvia Darcyii and Greggii, and Callirhoe. I have ordered Marrubium, Agastache Coronado Red and others for spring. Thanks for the excitement!

  11. Pat Hayward says:

    Thanks for letting us know how things are doing up there in eastern Oregon… keep us posted next year!

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