Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens Announce Plant Select Choices for 2004

Colorado State University and Denver Botanic Gardens this week announce Plant Select choices for the year 2004. Plant Select is a program that finds and distributes the best plants for gardens in Colorado’s high plains, the intermountain region and beyond. The seven chosen plants are ideal for the current drought situation because they need only moderate or little watering.

Sea Foam Artemisia (Artemisia versicolor ‘Sea Foam’) is a perfect choice for xeriscape gardens. It has a spreading habit that makes it suitable for planting along rock walls because it will spill and drape over the edge. This plant is highly tolerant of poor, dry soil conditions and prefers full sun to part shade. Foliage of Sea Foam Artemisia is 6 inches high, can grow up to 20 to 30 inches wide and is appropriate to use in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 4b-8, up to 7,000 feet.

Sunset Foxglove (Digitalis obscura) forms an almost shrub-like base unlike others of this genus and produces burnt-orange flowers on wiry stems. This plant blooms in late spring to autumn, prefers soil that drains well in partial shade or full sun and should be trimmed in spring for new flowers to appear by summer. Sunset Foxglove grows to be 14 to 24 inches tall and 15 to 20 inches wide in moderate to dry soil and is suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 4b-9, up to 7,000 feet.

Bluestem Joint Fir (Ephedra equisetina) comes to Colorado from northern China. This shrub-like plant has erect blue leafless stems and displays yellow flowers in the spring. The female plant produces bright red berries that ripen in midsummer. Bluestem Joint Fir blooms in springtime and stands 4 to 6 feet tall, can range from 3 to 8 feet wide and prefers full sun to partial shade in moderate to xeric soil climates found in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 4b-9.

Hopflower Oregano (Origanum libanoticum) is an easy to grow plant with interesting hop-like bracts that dangle from thin, wiry stems and lavender flowers that appear in early summer. This plant requires little care and is perfect for rock garden slopes or raised walls in full sun to partial shade with moderate soil conditions. Hopflower Oregano blooms in the summer to the fall and is 10 to 15 inches tall, can grow to be 18 to 24 inches wide and grows well in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 4b-8.

Cashmere Sage (Phlomis cashmeriana) is an herbaceous perennial plant that has a square stem, two-lipped flowers and felt-like, evergreen leaves. The plant forms a decoration of basal leaves until the flower stalks elongate in the summer and slowly spread. Cashmere Sage will reach 3 to 5 feet tall and 18 to 30 inches wide depending on the watering regimen used.  This plant blooms in early summer, prefers full sun to shade with moderate soil moisture and is recommended for U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 4b-8.

Cherry Skullcap (Scutellaria suffrutescens) is a drought-tolerant plant that has neat form and interesting color. The plant is named for its distinct tubular, cherry red and helmet-like ‘skullcap’ flowers that are seen in warm weather. Cherry Skullcap flowers appear all summer and can reach 4 to 6 inches tall and 10 to15 inches wide. This plant blooms in full sun or partial shade, moderate or dry garden loam or dandy soil and grows well from summer to fall in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 6-9.

Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata) is a wildflower native to the Southwest. It produces a continuous series of dark-eyed, yellow daisies over compact foliage. Chocolate Flower also exudes a rich chocolate aroma in the morning hours. This plant blooms from May to September and grows best in full sun to partial shade with poor dry soil.  Chocolate Flower stands 10 to 20 inches tall and wide and is recommended for U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 4-9.

For more information about Plant Select recommendations, visit the Plant Select Web site at or visit a nursery or garden center and request more information.