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Superior Herbaceous Perennials

Superior Herbaceous Perennials

The main objectives of the PERC perennial garden are to determine which herbaceous perennials are best suited for growing in the Rocky Mountain area and to display these plants for public enjoyment and teaching purposes. The perennial garden was started in 1980 with four beds. Presently, there are twenty beds and approximately 810 different taxa grown and evaluated. Many more taxa have failed to survive for various reasons. Growth, cultural, and landscape characteristics of these plants have been observed annually, resulting in a database for evaluating their suitability for use in High Plains landscapes.

Listed below are just eight plants that performed well in past years and merit more attention for use in the Rocky Mountain/High Plains Area. You are welcome to visit PERC located in the south-west corner of Colorado State University in Fort Collins any day of the year during daylight hours.

Acanthus hungaricus Bear’s Breeches

– Clump forming specimen plant
– Deeply lobed, glossy green leaves

– Spikes of white to pale pink flowers covered by a spiny purple bract
– Full sun or part shade; well-drained, moderately fertile soil
– Excellent cut and/or dried flower

Clematis recta Bush Clematis

– Sprawling, bushy form
– Scented, star-shaped, white flowers produced in late June through July
– “Pinwheel” cottony seed heads
– Full sun; cool root run; fertile, moist soil
– Use in herbaceous or mixed borders

Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Incomparabilis’
False Sunflower

– North American native
– ‘Incomparabilis’ has semi-double, gold flower heads
– Long bloom period from late June to frost
– Upright, spreading habit
– Full sun to part shade; moderately fertile soil
– Excellent cut flower

Phlomis russeliana
Sticky Jerusalem Sage

– Member of the mint family
– Woolly mid-green leaves, square stems
– Whorls of pale yellow, hooded flowers
– Attractive seed heads
– Full sun; does well in poor soils
– Excellent cut or dried flower; adds winter interest

Prunella grandiflora Large Selfheal
– Member of the mint family
– Spreads into an excellent ground cover by creeping stems
– Whorls of two-lipped, purple flowers in spikes
– Full sun, part shade; not fussy
– Attracts bees and beneficial insects

Pulmonaria spp.
Bethlehem Sage, Lungwort

– Clump forming perennial known for its’ spotted or mottled foliage
– Funnel-shaped flowers in nodding clusters
– Blooms in early spring
-Variable habitat; even in dry shade
– Many great cultivars:
P. saccharata ‘Mrs. Moon’: pink buds open to blue flowers that mature to lilac
P. saccharata ‘Roy Davidson’: sky blue flowers that fade to pink
P. officinalis ‘Sissinghurst White’: pale pink buds open to pure white flowers

Anaphalis margaritacea
Pearly Everlasting

– Eastern North American native
– Woolly foliage gives plant a silvery, gray appearance
– Papery white bracts surround central yellow florets
– Full sun; tolerates alkalinity and moderately dry soils
– Excellent cut and/or dried flower

Monarda ‘Petite Delight’ Petite Delight Bee Balm
– Dwarf form; 12-15 inches in height
– Dark green crinkled leaves
– Lavender-rose tubular flowers attractive to bees
– Good mildew resistance
– Full sun to light shade; moderately fertile, moist soil

The perennial flower garden is supported by:Agricultural Experiment Station Project 713Local and national nurseries: Bluebird Nursery, Bluestone Perennials, Denver Botanic Gardens, Green Acres Nursery, Gulley Greenhouse, Little Valley Nursery, Paulino Gardens, Perennial Plant Association, Skagit Gardens, Walters Gardens.


“Best Perennials for the Rocky Mountains and Plain States”

This comprehensive perennial guide includes 20 years of performance data from Colorado State University’s W.D. Holley Plant Environmental Research Center. Plant performance was rated and top performers are described according to: landscape use, height, foliage, color and fall effect, winter injury, ornamental fruit, disease and insect problems. These top-performing perennials are ideal for xeriscapes, rock and wildflower gardens, and the traditional perennial border. Also includes plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds,and 5 bloom charts for white, yellow/orange, red/pink, and blue/purple flowers. An absolute MUST for the Colorado, Rocky Mountain or High Plains gardener.

Available from “The Other Bookstore” (Cooperative Extension – 970 491-6198 or ).

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