Pretty Smart Plants From Plant Select®

Plant SelectPlant Select

 

by David Salman

Plant Select® is a regional plant introduction organization founded in 1992. As a collaboration between Colorado State University and Denver Botanic Gardens, the organization has brought together many of the region's best horticulturists, plant breeders, landscapers, and commercial plant growers with the goal of introducing regionally suitable plants for the Great Plains and Intermountain states.

The criteria used for the selection process is rather strict and includes the following ten attributes:

The plants must be:

  1. Durable
  2. Flourish with less water
  3. Thrive in a broad range of conditions
  4. Habitat-friendly
  5. Tough and resilient in challenging climates
  6. One of a kind/unique
  7. Resist disease & insects
  8. Long-lasting beauty
  9. Non-invasive
  10. Cold hardy

Over the last 25 years, these efforts have been wildly successful, currently having brought to the market 150 noteworthy plants.

While the organization's focus is to introduce plants adapted to western growing conditions, time and the experiences of gardeners elsewhere in the country, have discovered that some of these plants are also suitable for the eastern half of the US as well.

Plants in the program include a wide range of native perennials, shrubs and ornamental grasses in addition to a wide-ranging assortment of cold hardy Old World species from Europe, Asia, and South Africa.

As a founding member of the organization, David Salman discovered and developed six of the plants that were brought into the program. David also helped to popularize and create a market through High Country Gardens for another handful of noteworthy plants Platinum® Dwarf Silver Leaf Salvia (Salvia daghestanicaRed Birds In A Tree (Scrophularia macrantha)Undaunted® Ruby Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia reverchonii), and others that were later brought into the program.

Blonde Ambition Plants From Plant Select®

Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass PP# 22, 048 
(Bouteloua gracilis)

Zones 4-9

Thin Man Indian Grass PPAF Plant Select® Plants From Plant Select®

Thin Man Indian Grass PPAF
(Sorghastrum nutans)

Zones 4-9

Orange Carpet® Hummingbird Trumpet Plant Select®

Orange Carpet® Hummingbird Trumpet 
(Zauschneria garrettii)

Zones 5-9

Red Mountain® Flame cold hardy Iceplant Plant Select®

Red Mountain® Flame cold hardy Iceplant
(Delosperma x PWWG025)

Zones 6-9

Gold on Blue® Prairie Zinnia 
(Zinnia grandiflora)

Zones 4-8

Wee One English Lavender Plant Select®

Wee One English Lavender 
(Lavandula angustifolia)

Zones 5-9

3 Recent Plant Select® Introductions 

Delosperma Granita Raspberry Plants From Plant Select®

Granita® Raspberry Ice Plant (Delosperma hybrid) (2018)

I first saw this sumptuously colored Ice Plant in the garden of its discoverer, John Stireman of Salt Lake City. John has one of the finest and most diverse rock gardens in the western US. He is particularly enamored with the South African Ice Plants and has spent several decades growing and testing them in his USDA zone 5 rock garden.

As luck would have it, after many years of cross-pollination by bees, Delosperma Granita® Raspberry appeared as a volunteer seedling. And it's a winner! Durable and cold hardy, the flowers have a unique coloration that sets it apart from other Ice Plants and perennial plants. Use it as a water-wise ground cover, planted in well-drained where it gets full sun. Zones 6-10.

Verbena Valley Lavender® Plains Verbena Plant Select®

Verbena Valley Lavender® Plains Verbena (Verbena bipinnatifida) (2018)

This widespread native species is often considered a biennial. But this selection, found on the Great Plains of eastern Colorado is more perennial and robust. It's best to grow this perennial in "lean" (infertile) fast draining non-clay soils in full, blazing sun. It likes lots of heat and not too much water. After getting it established the first growing season, water deeply but infrequently in subsequent years. Zones 5-8.

"Tough love" is the best way to grow and enjoy this gorgeous plant. With this in mind, it should not be fertilized with granular or water-soluble chemical fertilizers. This will shorten the plant's lifespan and it will act as an annual. Instead, just top-dress with a little Yum Yum Mix around the plant in fall.

Snowmass® Blue Eyed Veronica (Veronica x PO185) Plants From Plant Select®

Snowmass® Blue Eyed Veronica (Veronica x PO185) (2018)

A wonder hybrid cultivar, this vigorous groundcover Speedwell is a great choice for the xeric (water-wise) garden. It has evergreen foliage and blooms in mid-spring with a flurry of white, blue-eyed flowers that cover the plant for up to a month.

Snowmass® is an outstanding companion plant for spring blooming bulbs (Crocus, daffodils, muscari and wildflower tulips). Plant it in full sun in most soils including clay (when grown on the dry side). Zones 3-10.

Shop Plant Select® Plants From High Country Gardens

  1. Golden Candles, Thermopsis lupinoides

    A super cold hardy Old World native, Golden Candles (Thermopsis lupinoides) blooms with stunning bright yellow lupine-like flower spikes in mid-spring. It pairs beautifully with mid-...

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    Golden Candles (Thermopsis) Golden Candles Thermopsis lupinoides
    Sale Price I Save 20%
    $11.99 Sale $9.59
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    A super cold hardy Old World native, Golden Candles (Thermopsis lupinoides) blooms with stunning bright yellow lupine-like flower spikes in mid-spring. It pairs beautifully with mid-spring daffodils and tulips, and after flowers fade, attractive foliage mounds will enhance your garden through summer. Easily grown and long-lived, Golden Candles delivers welcome early-season color after a long, cold winter. A 2020 Plant Select® Winner.
    Learn More
  2. Redbirds In A Tree (Scrophularia)

    Red Birds in a Tree is a rare perennial from the southern mountains of New Mexico and Arizona. It blooms all summer with spires of small red, white-lipped flowers that resemble a flo...

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    Redbirds In A Tree (Scrophularia) Redbirds In A Tree Scrophularia macrantha
    As low as $11.99 Sale $9.59
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Red Birds in a Tree is a rare perennial from the southern mountains of New Mexico and Arizona. It blooms all summer with spires of small red, white-lipped flowers that resemble a flock of red birds perched on a tree branch.
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  3. Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition, Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass

    Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048) is a native ornamental grass with a completely new look. The horizontal eyelash-like chartreuse flower...

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    Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048
    As low as $14.99 Sale $11.99
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot

    Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048) is a native ornamental grass with a completely new look. The horizontal eyelash-like chartreuse flowers appear in mid-summer and age to blonde seed heads by fall. They are held on the plant right through the winter to provide many months of interest. 2011 Plant of The Year

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  4. Orange Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet, Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet, Creeping Hummingbird Trumpet

    2001 Plant Select Winner 4-6" tall x 15-18" wide. Orange Carpet® is a vigorous perennial groundcover that blooms in mid- to late summer with a profusion of bright orange trumpet ...

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    Orange Carpet® Creeping Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria) Creeping Hummingbird Trumpet Orange Carpet® (Fire Chalice) Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet®
    Sale Price I Save 20%
    $10.99 Sale $8.79
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    2001 Plant Select Winner 4-6" tall x 15-18" wide. Orange Carpet® is a vigorous perennial groundcover that blooms in mid- to late summer with a profusion of bright orange trumpet shaped flowers. Spreading with underground stems, this beauty is perfect for slopes and cascading over the edges of raised beds.
    Learn More

 

Learn more and explore helpful gardening resources and design ideas from Plant Select®!

 

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