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Drought resistant perennials -part 2

by Carol Dunn

HUERFANO- Perennials planted in the fall can become established while the soil is still warm.  Water thoroughly after transplating.  Following are some perennials that will live and thrive in Huerfano County’s low precipitation, temperature fluctuations, wind and sun:  

    Yarrow, or Achillea, with colors ranging from white to gold and hues of pink, can grow to four feet in height and adapts to a variety of soils.  Atlas Daisy grows about three inches in height, but spreads and reseeds itself.  It grows well in stony soil and produces small white daisies nestled in feathery foliage in the spring.  The Daylily, with sword-like leaves, comes in thousands of varieties ranging from cream through the yellows to burgundy.  A daylily flower lasts only a day, but new buds bloom every day, and some varieties will continue to bloom for months.  Iris, or Flag, is a showy specimen plant that tolerates some of the worst drought conditions.  It blooms on two- to three-foot flower stalks in late spring and early summer and is available in colors that cross the spectrum.  Snow-in-Summer, or Cerastium, is a ground cover that prefers dry soils.  It forms a mat of gray foliage, with small white flowers that can completely cover the plant in late spring and early summer.

    Hardy Yellow Ice Plant, or Delosperma, is a succulent ground cover with bright yellow blooms that will last past spring if the weather is hot.  The plant spreads by rooting where its limbs touch the ground.  The winter foliage is crimson-red.  Delosperma is deer resistant, but will not tolerate trampling or heavy winter snow.  Hen and Chicks, or Sempervivum, is a succulent often used as a container plant.  It increases in size by producing small plantlets in a circular form.  There are over 500 varieties, some of which produce star-shaped flowers in clusters atop four- to twelve-inch stalks.  Woolly Thyme forms a mat of gray-green, furry leaves, and is very drought tolerant.  The pink flowers bloom in early summer, and the foliage has a pleasant scent.  The plant will spread to eighteen inches.

    Native plants are often your best bet for the dry landscape.  Wild Hyssop, or Double Bubble Mint, does well in dry, sunny locations and blooms in late summer with rose-purple flowers on branching stems.  It is also deer resistant.  Showy Four O’Clock, or Maravilla, is another native that grows in the most unlikely and harsh conditions, often seen in this area along roadsides.  It forms a blue-gray mound with tubular magenta flowers that open in late afternoon and close by next morning.  Poppy Mallow, or Wine Cup, is a native that makes a good ground cover, spreading up to three feet.  It prefers dry areas and full sun.  The plant blooms from early summer to early fall with flowers that are cup-shaped and reddish-purple.  Liatris, or Gayfeather, is a tough native that prefers dry, infertile soil and tolerates cold winters.  In mid to late summer it produces spikes with small, feathery-looking lavender flowers.  Blanketflower, or Gaillardia, has colorful yellow, daisy-like flowers with red centers.  It does well in heat and poor soils and does not mind being neglected.  The native Penstemon, or Beardtongue, consists of over 200 species of showy flowers that will tolerate any soil and will reseed themselves.  Heights range from four inches to four feet, and colors range from red to white, blue and purple.  Antennaria, or Pink Pussytoes, tolerates drought well, forms a low carpet of gray-green leaves and blooms in summer on slender stalks with small rose-pink flowers.     

    Remember, even drought-resistant plants require some water.  During long dry periods, even during winters of low snowfall, be sure to deep water your perennials occasionally, perhaps once a month or so, to ensure their survival.  

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