Three Spectacular Perennials for Hot, Sunny Locations

Eriogonum umbellatum 'Proliferum'

Eriogonum umbellatum 

I continue my series on new and favorite plants for Spring 2013 with three spectacular Perennials for hot, sunny locations.

One of the most challenging sites for landscape plantings would be hot spots that bake in the summer sun.  Here in high elevation New Mexico, the intensity of the sun is legendary. This week I want to highlight three of my favorite perennials, two of which are new for 2013. But they are not new to me. These plants have been planted in my gardens for the last 5 years where I‘ve been testing and evaluating them.

Scutellaria ‘Dark Violet’ and Eriogonum umbellatum ‘Proliferum’ have passed with flying colors!

Scutelaria resinosa 'Smoky Hills'

Scutelaria resinosa 'Smoky Hills'

The genus Scutellaria, known by their common name as Skullcaps, is native to the northern Hemisphere of our planet. They can be found all across North America, Europe and Asia in both temperate and subtropical climates.  I first became captivated by this genus when I saw a talk back in 1998 in which our native Scutellaria resinosa (Prairie Skullcap) was shown and discussed. I had to grow it! And this wonderful prairie wildflower remains one of my favorites. The best selection of Prairie Skullcap is the strain

‘Smoky Hills’ originally found in the northwest corner of Kansas and introduced by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.  It is the largest and most vigorous strain of S. resinosa

Scutellaria ‘Dark Violet’ is my newest hybrid between ‘Smoky Hills’ Prairie Skullcap and the stunning rose-red flowered Scutellaria sufrutescens, native to southern Texas.  ‘Dark Violet’ has excellent cold hardiness and noticeably darker violet flowers than ‘Violet Cloud’. The small, numerous flowers cover the compact plant all summer.  It thrives in hot, sunny, dry conditions in well drained soils and is a brilliant companion plant toBeardtongues Penstemon and the following plant Eriogonum umbellatum ‘Proliferum’ as It helps to cool down Eriogonum’s blazing yellow flowers.

Scutelaria 'Dark Violet'

Scutelaria 'Dark Violet'

The Sulfur Buckwheats  are some of our most treasured, but underplanted natives. They are valued for their beauty, durability and value as habitat plants for feeding pollinators(butterflies, bees and bumblebees)  and beneficial insects. The Western Buckwheats can be found from the deserts to the subalpine elevations of our highest mountains.Eriogonum umbellatum ‘Proliferum’ (Prolific Sulfur Buckwheat) is a gem, growing into a neatly mounding evergreen shrub that covers itself with literally a hundred  umbels of yellow flowers.  Sulfur Buckwheats thrive in hot, sunny conditions in low fertility, well drained soils. They make long lived companions for Beardtongues, Lavender, ‘Dark Violet’ Skullcap and cold hardy succulents like Yucca and Agave.  This selection grows best west of the Mississippi River in regions that receive between 8 and 24 inches of precipitation per year.

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6 thoughts on “Three Spectacular Perennials for Hot, Sunny Locations”

  • Gail

    Please let me know when you sell the Scutellaria ‘Dark Violet’ on the HCG website. I would buy some!

  • Lynn

    How will these 3 plants do with weekly watering? I have a great hot area for them but need to water existing shrubs there. Thanks.

    • david salman

      Once established all these plants are fine with watering once a week. The key is well drained soil. And don't plant them in a low spot that might collect too much water.

  • Mary Lane Leslie
    Mary Lane Leslie 04/29/13 at 2:48 am

    I live near the gorge in Taos. Very gravelly, our soil becomes adobe when wet but dries and cracks between rain. We get about 8-11" of moisture annually. Do you define our soil "well-drained"?

    • david salman

      Your soil conditions in Taos constitute "well drained". Having a lot of gravel mixed into clay ("adobe")soils actually creates an excellent growing environment for many xeric plants. Of course the naturally arid conditions help to keep the soils from staying too damp over long periods of time. Salvia dorrii, Salvia 'May Night', Penstemon strictus, Eriogonum, Blue Flax (Linum), and Sphaeralcea munroana are all great choices for your area.


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