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1998: Six New Plants for Colorado's Climate

By James E. Klett, Colorado State University, March 1998

This spring, Colorado gardeners can choose from six new plants that are well adapted to the Rocky Mountain regions' harsh climate thanks to a joint project between Colorado State University, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Green Industries of Colorado. These six new varieties mark the 1998 Plant Select introductions. Plant Select is a program designed to seek out and distribute the very best plants for gardens from the High Plains to the Intermountain Region.

The 1998 winners include Starburst Ice Plant, Lavender Mist Sun Daisy, Purple Mountain Sun Daisy, Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush,  Pink Crystals Ruby Grass, and Colorado Gold Hardy Gazania. These 1998 introductions were selected from rare landscape specimens, seedling populations, and other sources several years ago and tested in trials at Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens, and numerous other locations throughout the Rocky Mountain High Plains region. These six new plants have been identified as suitable for our environment and previously rarely planted in our landscapes. They are now available at most retail nurseries/garden centers this spring. All six varieties released in 1998 can be seen at the Denver Botanic Gardens and at Colorado State University. Plants debuting at retail stores this season include:


Starburst Ice Plant - Delosperma floribundum 'Starburst'

This clumping Ice Plant produces a dome of bright pink flowers with eye catching white centers. The texture of the petals is shimmering, almost like metal. It starts blooming in June and continues steadily until fall. It grows about 4 inches in height and 10 inches in width and prefers sun and a moderate to dry soil location with average garden soil.

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Lavender Mist Sun Daisy - Osteospermum 'Lavender Mist'

This plant forms mats of oblong, nearly succulent leaves that are evergreen with up to 3 inch flower heads which open white and turn a soft lavender purple as they age and are produced from late April to autumn. The plant gets about 12 inches in height and 15 inches in width. It will grow in full sun to partial shade and will need moderate watering in ordinary garden loam.

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Purple Mountain Sun Daisy - Osteospermum barberiae v. compactum 'Purple Mountain'

This sun daisy has bright purple daisy-like flowers which cover the mat of rich green leaves from late April to mid-summer. If it is deadheaded it blooms sparingly until frost. This is a wildflower from the summits of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. It grows about 10 inches in height and 12 inches in width and prefers full sun to partial shade. It likes moderate watering and grows in ordinary garden loam.

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Colorado Gold Hardy Gazania - Gazania linearis 'Colorado Gold'

This gazania has glossy mounds of deep green, strap-shaped leaves that have up to 3 inch shiny yellow flowers throughout the growing season. This selection is cold hardy to our climate compared to the annual bedding gazanias. It does well under ordinary garden treatment or in unamended, dry soils once established. The plant gets about 3 inches in height and 10 inches in width. It will grow in full sun to partial shade. It prefers loam soils and may need some light fertilization in sandy soils.

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Pink Crystals Ruby Grass - Rhynchelytrum nerviglume

This grass is an annual here in the Rocky Mountain High Plains region. The shimmering heads of bright ruby and silver flowers are an excellent contribution to the bedding or annual border. It grows to about 24 inches in height and 15 inches in width. It will grow in full sun to partial shade and will need moderate watering.

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Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush - Buddleia alternifolia 'Argentea'

This woody plant can be grown as a small tree or large shrub that does well in a variety of soils and sites. The lavender to violet flowers are produced in mid spring, making this a centerpiece of any garden when it is in bloom. The foliage throughout the season is blue gray and more finely textured. It does well in more naturalistic designs, shrub borders, or as a specimen plant. The plant can get up to 10-12 feet in height and 10-12 feet in width. It will grow in full sun to partial shade and likes moderate watering. It will tolerate most of our soils and exposures, however it does not like real wet feet.

Most local garden centers and nurseries have these plants in stock this gardening season. Look for Plant Select display cards and labels for each of these plants at your local garden center or nursery. For information on plants call Panayoti Kelaidis at the Denver Botanic Gardens (303-370-8054) or Jim Klett in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Colorado State University, 970-491-7179.

For more information and photos of these plants see: Plant Select

Photograph courtesy of Judy Sedbrook.

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010