Teller County Master Gardeners
(719) 689-2552

Colorful Perennials

    The garden perennial is a flowering plant which continues to provide a yard full of color for many years with a minimum of care and attention.  The selection of non-native trees for this area is small and the range of introduced shrubs only somewhat larger.  However, the perennial group of herbaceous plants which flourish here contains dozens of beautiful and colorful specimens and presents the best opportunity for successful mountain gardening.

Site and Soil Preparation

    It is of utmost importance to select a location suitable to the types of plants you wish to grow.  Sun-loving flowers will never reach their full potential in constant shade.  An area which offers some protection from the elements is helpful, and a site which warms quickly in the spring will give your garden a head start on our short summers.

    The most important phase of establishing a perennial bed is soil preparation (see CSU CE fact sheet #7.402 on soil preparation).  In most cases, it is essential to amend the soil with organic matter, and some areas may even require the introduction of good topsoil.  Soil preparation is a step which cannot be ignored in a mountain community built primarily on decomposed granite.


    There are dozens of beautiful perennial wildflowers in our area, most of which can be cultivated with great success.  Given the same care as your favorite hybrids--good soil, adequate water and a little fertilizer--the lovely little natives will grow large, lush and colorful, and can be a spectacular addition to any perennial bed.  There are some natives that will flourish in our native soil--very little amending will be necessary.

    Your success with individual perennials will depend to a large extent on altitude, exposure (or micro-climate) of a selected site, and on soil preparation prior to planting.  Blooming time will also vary according to these conditions.  The following listed perennials have been grown successfully in various parts of Teller County by a number of persistent and triumphant gardeners.  You may wish to experiment with varieties other than those listed.

Alyssum-Basket-of-Gold yellow gray-green foliage, border plant
Aubrieta rose to purple low spreader, ideal for rock
Baby's Breath white bushy plant, good dried flower
Black-Eyed Susan yellow daisy-like showy flowers, native plant
Blanket Flower, Gaillardia red & yellow bright blossoms, flower first year
Bleeding Heart rose & pink likes some shade, good shrubby border
Bulbs varies rich soil, good drainage, sunny location
Chrysanthemums assorted sun or partial shade, reliable
Clustered Bellflower purple very dependable at high elevations, tolerates shade, for large rock gardens
Columbine varies tolerates shade, very reliable, long bloom period
Coreopsis yellow reliable, blooms all summer
Creeping phlox pinks, white low, spreading plant, colorful blooms in spring, good rock garden plant
Daisy (painted) pink, red, white colorful, reliable, likes full sun
Daisy (Shasta) white forms large clumps, good cut flower
Daylily yellow, orange, red hardy, low-maintenance plant, forms large clumps
Delphinium blue, purple, pink state plants or shelter from wind
Dianthus red, pink, white many varieties, good for rock gardens
Edelweiss full sun to part shade
Flax blue full sun, drought resistant, native
Forget-Me-Not blue partial shade, much water, groundcover
Foxglove red, pink, dependable only to 9,000 feet, biennial
Globe Flower yellow, orange needs rich soil, water and part shade
Harebells sun & shade, native, reseeds readily
Hens & Chicks red easy to grow, full sun, rock gardens, may not flower for years
Herbs (tarragon, chives, society garlic sunny exposure
Hollyhock varies good on warm, south facing fence or wall, blooms unreliable at high altitudes
Iris (bearded) varies full sun, mulch first winter, may not bloom every year
Iris (dwarf) varies good in rock gardens, border plant
Iris (Siberian) white, purple bloom unreliable, moist conditions
Johnny Jump-Up violet extremely hardy, reseeds rapidly
Lupine varies moist conditions, short-lived, reseeds
Maltese Cross red, white sun to light shade, moist conditions
Mint easy to grow, can be invasive
Pansy varies full sun to part shade
Penstemon Beard Tongue varies full sun or light shade, short-lived if
Peony red, pink, white long-lived, prepare soil 18 inches deep
Phlox white, purple full sun, mid-summer bloom
Poppies (Iceland) varies good cut flowers, sow seed in early spring
Poppies (Alpine) varies
Poppies (Oriental) red, pink, orange bright, short bloom period, will die back in summer
Rose of the Rockery (Geum) red rock garden plant, sun or part shade
Saponaria pink easy to grow, trailing groundcover
Sedum (Autumn Joy) pink southern exposure, good dried flower
Sedum (Dragon's Blood) pink rock garden, groundcover plant
Snow-in-Summer white groundcover on sunny bank, rock garden
Sweet Pea rose, white hardy vine for trellis or bank cover, little care
Sweet William pink, white biennial, blooms year after seeding
Tiger Lily orange one of the hardiest of lilies
Yarrow yellow, white needs sunny & dry location, easy to grow