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Xeriscaping: Perennials and Annual Flowers – 7.231   arrow

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by J.E. Klett and C. Wilson1(2/10)

Quick Facts…

  • Nurseries carry a greater selection of native and adapted water wise perennials and annuals than ever before.
  • Wider plant availability supports new directions in western flower gardens.
  • Use this list of perennial and annual plants as a tool for exploring expanded garden possibilities.

Wet climate landscapes have molded perceptions of flower gardens and ingrained the names of the flowers they contain through literature, painting, photography and more. Dry climate gardens by contrast often have evoked images of sparseness and scarcity. No more.

A new view of water wise gardens has evolved from the creativity and experimentation of gardeners. It is supported by the wider availability of native and adapted plants from high altitude dry climates around the world. Plant marketing efforts from nurseries and the Plant Select® program have fostered this plant revolution. Plant Select® seeks to identify and distribute plants best for intermountain and high plains gardens (

Growing on less water does not mean water wise gardens are lacking. They can be colorful, include a wide variety of plants, and delight as much as the traditional English garden border. They can also be subtle and evocative of the wide open skies and intense light of the natural western landscape.

Figure 1: Gaillardia x grandiflora Goblin (lower right) and Sedum sp. (center left). Figure 2: Berlandiera lyrata and Lavanula angustifolia. Figure 3: Rudbeckia fulgida (top) and Erigeron sp. (below)
Figure 1: Perennials Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Goblin’ (lower right) and Sedum sp. (center left). Figure 2: Perennials Berlandiera lyrata and Lavandula angustifolia. Figure 3: Rudbeckia fulgida (top) and Erigeron sp. (below)
Figure 4: Denver City County Building Garden (Zauschneria Garrettii Figure 5: Native Blue Penstemon strictus (left) and P. grandiflorus Prairie Jewell (center and right).
Figure 4: Denver City County Building Perennial Gardens (Zauschneria garrettii) Figure 5: Perennials Native blue Penstemon strictus (left) and P. grandiflorus Prairie Jewel® (center and right).
Figure 6: Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita”. Figure 7: Delosperma Mesa Verde (front)
Figure 6: Annuals Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’. Figure 7:Perennials Delosperma Mesa Verde® (front)
D. nubigenum (back).
Figure 8: Rudbeckia  ‘Autumn Colors’ 040(15)
Figure 8: Annuals Rudbeckia ‘Autumn Colors’

Grasses, perennials and wildflowers native to the Rocky Mountain West are frequently found in the modern Colorado flower garden. Annuals easy on water use are seasonally mixed in. Introduced plants from the high and dry areas of the Andes, Himalayas, the Middle East and South Africa are often included. This list of perennials and annuals includes native and adapted plants for the water wise flower garden. Use it as a tool to explore the expanded garden possibilities in the West.

For additional plant suggestions, see other native plant and xeriscape fact sheets available from Colorado State University Extension.

Botanical NameCommon Name CulTivars Flower Color Bloom Period Height Comments/Cultural hints
Achillea hybrids
‘Moonshine’ Light Yellow Jun-Sep 18-36″ Feathery foliage, vigorous, clump forming
Achillea filipendula
Fernleaf yarrow
‘Coronation Gold’‘Parker’s Variety’ Bright yellowGolden yellow Jun-SepJun-Sep 36-42″36-48″ Gray-green foliage, heat tolerant
Weak stems – may require staking
Achillea millefolium
Common yarrow
‘Paprika’‘Red Beauty’‘Summer Pastels’‘Terra Cotta’ Red with yellow centersCrimson redPastel mix
Peach pink
Soft, feathery green foliage, vigorous spreading nature.Gray-green feathery foliage, aggressive spreading clump.Feathery foliage, forms clumps.Silvery feathery foliage, spreading nature
Achillea ptarmica
The Pearl yarrow
‘The Pearl’ White Jun-Sep 12-18″ Small sprays of double, buttonlike flowers, open habit, good cut flower
Coronado®Coronado® Red OrangeRed Jul-OctJul-Oct 15-18″15-18″ Silvery green leaves, minty fragrance, Plant Select® plants
Agastache cana
Hummingbird’s mint
Sonoran Sunset® PinkLavender rose Jul-OctJul-Oct 24-36″12-18″ Gray green aromatic foliage, upright clumpsMore compact than species, longer blooming, Plant Select® plant
Agastache rupestris
Sunset hyssop
Salmon pink Jul-Oct 24-36″ Gray green aromatic foliage, Plant Select® plant
Agastache hybrid
Anise hyssop
‘Blue Fortune’ Blue violet Jul-Oct 24-48″ Dark green leaves on stout stems
Alcea rosea
Chater’s series‘Watchman’ MixMaroon Jul-SepJuly-Sep 60-72″60-72″ Cutting back stalks encourages continuing bloom
Antennaria parvifolia
Pink May-Jun 2-6″ Wooly silvery-gray leaves
Aquilegia chrysantha
Yellow columbine
Denver Gold® Yellow May-Aug 24-36″ Recurrent bloom if cut back.Southwestern native.Plant Select® plant.
Remembrance® columbine
‘Swan Violet & White’ Violet-blue and white May-Jun 18-24″ Hybrid developed from native A. caerulea to honor the memory of those shot at Columbine High School. Plant Select® plant
Aurinia saxitalis
Yellow Apr 6-12″ Narrow gray-green leaves contrast with bright flowers in bloom.
Baptisia australis
False indigo
Blue May-Jun 36-48″ Attractive brown seed pods. Blue green foliage.
Berlandiera lyrata
Chocolate flower
Yellow Jun-Sep 12-24″ Southeastern Colorado native. Chocolate fragrance from daisy-like flowers. Plant Select® plant
Callirhoe involucrata
Prairie winecups
Magenta pink Jun-Sep 6-12″ Trailing stems sprawl 2 to 3 feet. Plant Select® plant
Calylophus serrulatus
‘Prairie Lode’ Yellow Jun-Sep 6″ Spreading ground cover.PlantSelect®
Centaurea montana
Mountain bluet /Perennial
bachelor button
Violet-blue Jun-Jul 18-24″ Spidery cornflowers. Vigorous grower that self-seeds.
Centranthus ruber
Red valerian or Jupiter’s Beard
‘Albus’ Reddish pinkWhite Jun-Aug 24″ Sprawling plant with blue-green leaves. Reseeds. Deadhead to promote continual blooming.
Cerastium tomentosum
Snow in summer
White May-Jun 6-12″ Silvery gray foliage. Needs well drained soil.
Coreopsis auriculata
Dwarf coreopsis
‘Nana’ Yellow-orange May-Sep 6-8″ Low clump former with evergreen foliage. Dead head flowers.
Coreopsis grandiflora
Dwarf double coreopsis
‘Sunray’ Golden yellow Jun-Aug 24″ Double flowers. Spoon-like vibrant green leaves. Compact plant.
Coreopsis lanceolata
Lanceleaf coreopsis
Yellow Jun-Jul 18-24″ Long-lived, fine textured plant with shiny green leaves.
Coreopsis verticillata
Fernleaf coreopsis
‘Moonbeam’‘Zagreb’ Pale yellowGolden yellow Jun-Sep 18-24″12-18″ Finely dissected, bright green foliage.Deep green thread-like leaves.
Delosperma cooperi
Purple iceplant
Violet purple May-Jun 2-4′ Succulent gray-green leaves turn red-purple in winter.
Delosperma nubigenum
Yellow iceplant
Yellow May-Jul 1-2″ Mound of succulent leaves turn purplish in winter.
Lavender Ice™MesaVerde®Table Mountain® LavenderSalmon pinkFuchsia May-Aug 2-4″ Succulent gray-green leaves. Plant Select® plants
Echinacea purpurea
Purple coneflower
‘White Swan’‘Magnus’ WhiteDark pink Jul-Sep 24-36″ Erect prairie wildflower, daisy-like flowers, deep green leaves.
Echium amoenum
Red Feathers
Russet red May-Jul 12-16″ Base rosette of foliage with spikes of feathery flowers. Plant Select® plant
Erigeron hybrids
Fleabane daisy
‘Azure Fairy’ Pink-purpleBlue with yellow eye Jun-Jul 18-24″ Grow in well-drained soil, deadhead for rebloom
Eriogonum umbellatum
Sulfur flower
Kannah Creek® Yellow May-Jul 6-12″ Dark green mat of foliage with umbrella-like flowersKannah Creek® foliage turns a rich red in winter – Plant Select®
Eryngium planum
Sea holly
Blue Jun-Aug 12-24″ Silver-blue flower heads dry well.
Eschscholzia californica
California poppy
Yellow-orange Jun-Sep 12-24″ Fine blue green leaves. Short-lived perennial at low elevations, annual at high elevations. Reseeds easily.
Gaillardia aristata
Native blanket flower
Yellow Jun-Aug 18-24″ Fuzzy, green clump of foliage, flowers have reddish brown to orange centers
Gaillardia x grandiflora
Blanket flower
‘Burgundy’‘Goblin’ RedRed with yellow Jun-Aug 18-24″18-24″ Wine red flowersCompact growth
Gaura lindheimeri
Whirling butterflies
‘Crimson Butterflies’‘Siskiyou Pink’ PinkPink Jul-Sep 15-18″ Dark crimson leavesDeep pink flowers with white stamens
Gazania linearis
Colorado Gold® Hardy gazania
Yellow orange May-Oct 4-6″ Deep green linear leaves, blooms open in sunny weather. Plant Select® plant
Gypsophila paniculata
Baby’s breath
‘Bristol Fairy’‘Pink Fairy’ WhiteLight pink Jun-Aug 36-48”18-24″ Double white airy flowersLight pink double flowersBoth useful as cut flowers
Helianthemum nummularium
Many White, pink, yellow, red, orange May-Jul 8-12″ Numerous cultivars with various flower colors and silvery to deep green foliage
Hemerocallis spp.
Many Red, orange, yellow, purple, white Jun-Jul 12-48″ Clumps of long, medium green, grass-like leaves, leafless flower stalks bear bell-shaped flowers
Iberis sempervirens
White Apr-Jun 12-18″ Glossy green foliage, shear after bloom, may repeat bloom in fall
Many Blue, white, red, purple, yellow, orange, bi-colors May-Jun 8-30″ Sword like leaves add vertical accent to the garden, makes good cut flower
Knautia macedonica
Burgundy Jun-Aug 18-36″ Foliage clumps give rise to many openly branched flower stems, reseeds
Kniphofia uvaria
Torch lily
Red, orange, yellow, bi-colors Jul-Sep 24-48″ Vertical flower spikes arise from clumps of grasslike foliage, blooms from bottom of spike upward
Kniphofia caulescens
Regal Torch Lily
Golden, crimson and ivory tri-color 40″ PlantSelect® Plant
Lavandula angustifolia
English lavender
‘Hidcote’‘Munstead’ Lavender blueLavender blue May-Sep 12-18″12-18″ Aromatic blooms and foliage, semievergreen, woody stems
Liatrus spicata
‘Kobold’‘Floristan Violet’‘Floristan White’ RoseViolet purpleWhite Jul-Sep 18-36″ Clumps of grassy foliage, bottle brush blooms, good cut flower
Limonium latifolium
Sea lavender
Lavender purple Jul-Sep 18-24″ Spoon-shaped, leathery clump of leaves, Cloud of airy flowers
Linum perenne
Blue flax
Blue May-Jun 12-24″ Sky blue flowers on airy stems, self-seeds
Lychnis coronaria
Rose campion
Purple-red May-Jul 18-36″ Silvery gray rosette of foliage, reseeds
Mirabilis multiflora
Desert four o’clock
Purplish red Jun-Sep 12-30″ Blue green leaves, trumpet shaped flowers, southern Colorado native
Nepeta spp.
‘Six Hills Giant’‘Walkers Low’
Little Trudy®
Lavender May-Oct 24-36″
Fragrant gray-green leaves on square stems, spreading habit, trim back after bloom.Plant Select® plant
Oenothera macrocarpa subsp. Incana
Evening primrose
Silver Blade® Yellow May-Sep 4″ Silver leaves compliment clear yellow flowers. Grow in well-drained soils. Plant Select® plant
Papaver orientale
Oriental poppy
Orange, salmon, red May-Jun 24-30″ Very drought hardy, foliage dies in summer.
Penstemon grandiflorus Prairie Jewel® penstemon White, lavender, rose-pink, purple-violet May 18-36″ Strain of Great Plains penstemons with giant flowers. Attractive silvery leaf rosettes. Plant Select® plant
Penstemon linarioides var. coloradoensis Silverton® bluemat penstemon Lavender-blue May-Jun 8-12″ Spreading silvery mounds of evergreen leaves. Plant Select® plant
Penstemon rostriflorus
Bridges’ penstemon
Scarlet red Jul-Sep 12-36″ Southwestern native penstemon notable for late summer bloom period. Plant Select® plant
Phlox subulata
Creeping phlox
White, red, blue, pink Mar-Apr 4-6″ Plants form blankets of green leaves covered with small, star-shaped flowers
Pulsatilla vulgaris
Pasque flower
Purple Mar-Apr 6-12″ Silvery buds open to cup-shaped blooms, fuzzy seedheads persist into summer
Rudbeckia fulgida
Black-eyed Susan
‘Goldsturm’ Golden yellow Jul-Aug 18-24″ Golden yellow flowers with dark brown to black centers
Salvia argentea
Silver sage
White Jun-Jul 24-36″ Silky hairs on large leaves makes this a superior foliage plant. Plant Select® plant
Salvia nemerosa
‘May Night’‘Rose Queen’ Violet blueRose pink Jun-Aug 18-24″ Erect flower stalks with gray-green foliage, repeat bloom if cut back after first bloom finishes
Satureja montana var. illyricaPurple winter savory Purple-blue Aug-Sep 4-6″ Evergreen mounds with late-season showy flowers. Plant Select® plant
Sedum acre
Goldmoss stonecrop
Yellow May-Jun 2-4″ Star-like flowers on short stems with bright green leaves
Autumn Joy stonecrop
‘Autumn Joy’ Salmon pink Aug-Sep 18-24″ Upright clump bears thick, rounded, blue-green leaves with flat flower clusters
Sedum spurium
Dragon’s Blood stonecrop
‘Dragon’s Blood’ Rose red Jun-Jul 2-4″ Mats of red-rimmed foliage turn blood-red in fall and winter
Veronica liwanensis
Turkish veronica
Cobalt-blue Apr-Jun 1-2″ Flat, evergreen mats of glossy leaves. Plant Select® plant
Veronica ‘Reavis’ Crystal River® veronica Blue Apr-Jun 2-3″ Fast-growing vigorous masses of foliage. Plant Select® plant
Viola corsica
Corsican violet
Purple Apr-Sep 6-8″ A drought tolerant violet. Plant Select® plant
Zauschneriagarrettii (Epilobium garettii synonymous) Orange carpet® hummingbird trumpet Orange-scarlet Jul-Aug 4-6″ Spreading perennial from Idaho with masses of bloom. Plant Select® plant
Zinnia grandiflora
Paper flower
Yellow Jun-Sep 6″ Long lasting bloom, drought enduring.
Annuals that require one quarter to one half inch of additional water per week
Exposure Flower Color Bloom Time Height Hardiness
Centaurea cyanus
Cornflower, Bachelor Button
Sun – Part shade White, Pink, Blue, Purple Jun-Sep 15-20″ Hardy, reseeds
Cosmos bipinnatis
Sun Pink, White, Purple Jul-Sep 36-48″ Tender, reseeds
Gazania rigens
Sun White, Yellow, Orange Jun-Oct 8-10″ Half-hardy
Gomphrena globosa
Globe Amaranth
Sun White, Pink,Lavender Jun-Oct 12-24″ Tender
Lantana camara
Sun – Part shade Yellow, White,Orange, Numerous Jun-Sep 12-24″ Tender
Lobularia maritima
Sweet Alyssum
Sun – Part shade White, Violet,Maroon May-Sep 4-8″ Hardy
Mirabilis jalapa
Four O’Clocks
Sun – Part shade Yellow, Pink, Red, White Jul-Sep 18-30″ Tender, reseeds
Petunia x hybrida
Sun – Part shade Pink, White, Yellow, Violet, Red, Blue, Various Jun-Oct 8-15″ Half hardy
Portulaca grandifloria
Rose Moss
Sun Pink, Red, White, Yellow, Orange, Numerous Jul-Oct 6-8″ Tender
Sanvitalia procumbens
Creeping Zinnia, Trailing Sanvitalia
Sun Yellow, Orange Jun-Sep 6-8″ Tender
Senecio cineraria
Dusty Miller
Sun White-Silver foliage N/A 8-12″ Hardy
Tithonia rotundifolia
Mexican Sunflower
Sun Orange, Red Aug-Oct 12-40″ Tender
Scaevola aemula
Fan Flower
Sun White, Blue, Violet Jul-Oct 6-12″ Tender
Annuals that require one half to one inch of additional water per week
Exposure Flower Color Bloom Time Height Hardiness
Catharanthus roseus
Periwinkle, vinca
Sun White, Violet, Rose, Purple Jun-Oct 8-14″ Tender
Cleome hassleriana
Cleome, Spider Flower
Sun Pink, White, Purple Jul-Sep 36-48″ Tender
Dianthus chinensis
China Pinks
Sun – Part shade White, Pink, Rose, Red May-Sep 8-12″ Hardy
Helichrysum bracteatum
Sun White, Rose, Yellow, Orange, Crimson Aug-Oct 10-30″ Hardy
Ipomea batatus
Sweet Potato Vine
Sun-Part shade Not important N/A 12-24″Vining Tender
Limonium sinuatum
Notchleaf Statice
Sun White, Yellow, Blue, Lavender Aug-Oct 12-24″ Hardy
Nierembergia hippomanicaviolaceae
Cup Flower
Sun Violet, Lavender, White Jun-Sep 8-12″ Half hardy
Osteospermum species
African Daisy, Cape Daisy
Sun White, Yellow, Lavender, Pink, Orange Jun-Sep 10-18″ Half hardy
Pennisetum setaceum
Fountain Grass
Sun Grown for foliage & plume Jul-Oct 24-40″ Half hardy
Pentas lanceolata
Egyptian Star Flower
Sun Red, White, Pink Jun-Sep 12-20″ Tender
Rudbeckia hirta pulcherimma
Gloriosa Daisy
Sun Yellow, Orange Jul-Oct 12-30″ Hardy
Salvia farinacea
Mealycup Sage
Sun – Part shade Blue, Lavender, White, Rose Jul-Oct 12-30″ Half hardy
Tagetes species
Sun Yellow, Orange, White, Mahogany Jun-Oct 6-30″ Half hardy
Tropaeolum majus
Sun Red, Orange, Yellow Jun-Sep 12″ Tender
Verbena x hybrida
Garden Verbena
Sun White, Pink, Rose, Lavender, Red, Violet Jun-Oct 12-18″ Tender
Zinnia hybrids
Sun White, Yellow, Red, Orange, Pink, Rose Jun-Oct 8-36″ Tender
Annuals that require one to one and a half inches of additional water per week
Botanical Name
Common Name
Exposure Flower Color Bloom Time Height Hardiness
Ageratum houstonianum
Mexican Floss Flower
Sun – Part shade Lavender, Pink, Blue, White Jun-Oct 8-12″ Tender
Antirrhinum majus
Sun White, yellow, pink, bronze, various May-Oct 6-30″ Hardy
Argyranthemum species
Marguerite Daisy
Sun White, Yellow, Pink, Various Jun-Oct 6-36″ Half hardy
Bacopa species
Bacopa, WaterHyssop
Sun – Part shade Pink, White, Lavender, Various May-Sep 3-6″ Tender
Celosia plumosa
Feather Cockscomb
Sun Yellow, Orange, Red, Pink Jul-Sep 15-24″ Tender
Heliotropium arborescens
Sun Blue, purple Jun-Sep 10-20″ Tender
Impatiens walleriana
Sun – Shade White, Pink, Rose, Red, Blue, Copper Jun-Sep 6-12″ Tender
Lobelia erinus
Sun-Part shade Blue, purple, white May-Sep 4-12″ Tender
Nicotiana alata
Sun Red, white, pink, lime-green Jun-Sep 10-60″ Tender
Pelargonium x hortorum
Zonal Geranium
Sun White, Pink, Rose, Red, Orange May-Oct 12-20″ Half hardy
Viola x wittrockiana
Pansy – LadiesDelight
Sun – Part shade White, Blue, Violet, Yellow, Orange, Maroon All year 4-8″ Very hardy

1 J. E. Klett, Colorado State University Extension landscape horticulturist and professor, department of horticulture and landscape architecture; C. R. Wilson, Extension horticulture agent, Denver County. Revised from original “Xeriscaping: Garden flowers” fact sheet authored by J.R. Feucht and J.E. Klett. 6/00. Reviewed 2/10.

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