Colorado State University Announces 2009 Selections by Plant Select

Note to Editors: High resolution photographs of the 2009 Plant Select selections are available at, click on “Press Area” then enter the case-sensitive password “salvia”. The photos are under “2009 images”.

Tough economic times may mean homeowners and gardeners will be spending more time at home and in their gardens in 2009. But a lack of knowledge may result in heavy losses if unsuitable plants are chosen. Plant Select, a regional plant introduction and recommendation program from Colorado State University, the Denver Botanic Gardens and the green industry, is working to ensure gardeners successfully invest in their home gardens by identifying and distributing landscape and garden plants specifically suited for the Rocky Mountain and High Plains’ conditions.

Plant Select has introduced or recommended 87 plants to date, including 40 trademarked and four patented plants. The six winners for 2009 are: Littleleaf mountain mahogany; Korean feather reed grass; Lavender Ice plant; Silverheels horehound; Coronado Red hyssop; and Denver Daisy.  

The Littleleaf mountain mahogany is a dense, twiggy evergreen shrub from the Southwest desert that can tolerate many of the extreme conditions of the region. The small, inconspicuous flowers transform into feathery seed pods by mid-summer.  

The Korean feather reed grass is a clump-forming grass that offers an alternative to the more architectural Karl Foerster grass. This grass prefers locations in full sun to partial shade, and moderately moist to dry soil. The flowers persist from summer through fall and into winter.  

The Lavender Ice plant offers a new color in ice plants with its iridescent lavender flowers and dark eyes, blooming nearly all summer long. The plant, from the Perennial Favorite Nursery in Rye, Colo., prefers full sun to partial shade and moderate to dry soil. The green foliage turns purplish in the winter.  

Silverheels horehound is a mat-forming ground cover with rounded, silver-lined leaves. This native Turkishplant thrives in moderate to dry soils and in full sun. The name "Silverheels" comes from the nickname of a mysterious dance hall girl who wore shoes with silver heels in a Colorado mining town in the 1860s. She ultimately earned the admiration of local miners while nursing them back to health during a deadly smallpox epidemic.

The Coronado Red hyssop has crimson and maroon spires from July to September. This new cultivar, from Welby Gardens in Denver, brings a unique color offering of native mints. The plant prefers full sun and is adaptable to most moderate to dry soils. This plant attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Lastly, Plant Select is helping Denver celebrate its 150th anniversary by introducing the Denver Daisy Rudbeckia. The Denver Daisy, hybridized by the Benary Seed Company, has a dark eye and long-rayed yellow petals. It blooms from May through early fall and performs best in full sun to partial shade in moderate soils.  

Criteria for selecting plants include: good performance in a broad range of garden situations in the Rocky Mountain region; adaptation to the region’s challenging climate; uniqueness of flower color or plant habit; disease and insect resistance; exceptional performance under low water conditions; a long season of beauty in the garden; noninvasiveness; and the capability to be mass produced.

In addition to the Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University, partners and members of Plant Select are found throughout the United States. and include seed producers, wholesale propagators and growers, retail and demonstration gardens and landscape architects and designers.

Gardeners seeking more help with their landscaping investments can read "Durable Plants for the Garden – A Plant Select Guide," released in January by Fulcrum Publishing. This book has a history of the program, colorful and descriptive portraits of the first ten years’ plant selections, helpful tables, and additional references valuable to gardeners throughout the region.

For more information, contact Pay Hayward at (970) 481-3429 or or visit  

Plant Select is collaboration between Colorado State University, the Denver Botanic Gardens and the green industry to seek out and distribute the best plants for the Rocky Mountain Region.