Penstemon parryi

Parry's Penstemon

The flowering spikes of Parry's Penstemon are profuse in spring, blooming above the leaves, creating a dramatic display. This is one of the most popular Penstemons. Plants often reseed on their own to develop a naturalistic scene. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Penstemon pinifolius

Pineleaf Penstemon

The short, needlelike leaves of Pineleaf Penstemon cover the stems. Its spreading growth habit is well-suited to rock gardens and naturalistic settings. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Penstemon pseudospectabilis

Desert Beardtongue, Canyon Penstemon

This is another Penstemon to consider. Canyon Penstemon is native to elevations from 2,000 to 6,000 feet. It reseeds to continue and extend plantings. Sow seeds in fall for plants and flowers the following spring. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Penstemon strictus

Rocky Mountain Penstemon

Rocky Mountain Penstemon produces spires of large, brightly colored, blue-purple flowers that rise above the leaves. Tolerates heavy soils but prefers rocky, sandy, well drained soil. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Penstemon x mexicali

Mexican hybrid Penstemon

These are crosses made between Mexican and American wild Penstemons, and are Plant Select plants. Look for Red Rocks, Pike's Peak Purple, Carolyn's Hope, Shadow Mountain ('Psmyers') and Windwalker. Not fussy regarding soil type. Canopy coverage: 1 square foot.

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Perovskia atriplicifolia

Russian Sage

Russian Sage is a large, upright plant that can be used much like a deciduous shrub or large flowering perennial. A long bloomer that is easy to grow. Canopy coverage: 13 square feet.

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Phlomis cashmeriana

Himalayan Sage

Himalayan Sage is a large perennial that produces eye-catching spires of lavender-pink flowers. Leaves are fuzzy. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Phlomis russeliana

Sticky Jerusalem Sage

Sticky Jerusalem Sage grows as a clumping low shrub or groundcover with large, heart-shaped leaves. Flowers are borne on tall stems like other Phlomis species. Spreads by underground runners. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Phlox paniculata

Garden Phlox

Also known as Tall Garden Phlox and Summer Phlox, plants grow to 3 feet high. Flowers are small, just 1 inch across, but are borne in large, dome-shaped clusters. Mildew is a common problem; select resistant varieties to help curtail. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Physostegia virginiana

Obedient Plant, False Dragonhead

"Vigorous" is a word often used to describe Obedient Plant. It spreads by rhizomes—underground or soil surface stems—and can be highly invasive. Flowers resemble those of Snapdragon and are excellent for cutting to enjoy indoors. Canopy coverage: 7 square feet.

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Ratibida columnifera

Mexican Hat

This is an easy-care wildflower perennial. The flower petals droop downward around an upright brown cone, giving the yellow to brown flower the appearance of a drooping Mexican sombrero—a "Mexican Hat." Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Rudbeckia hirta

Black-eyed Susan

The large, daisylike flowers of Black-eyed Susan bloom on tall stems. The central cone is dark brown. A wide range of selections are available; check with your local nursery. Canopy coverage: 7 square feet.

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Rudbeckia laciniata

Cutleaf Coneflower, Greenhead Coneflower

The common names of this sunflowerlike perennial helps describe its appearance. Petals droop slightly, and the cone is greenish rather than a rich brown. The species grows quite tall, but 'Herbstsonne' remains in scale with the average garden, topping out at about 6 feet high. Canopy coverage: 13 square feet.

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Ruta graveolens


Rue is a mounding, shrubby, perennial herb. Leaves are fernlike and have a pungent scent. Handling foliage and flowers can irritate the skin. Do not ingest because plant parts are toxic. Flowers of species are yellow. 'Jackman's Blue' and 'Blue Mound' (shown in photo) have blue flowers and are more compact growers. Canopy coverage: 7 square feet.

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Salvia azurea var. grandiflora

Prairie Sage, Pitcher Sage

Prairie Sage, also known as Pitcher Sage, is a shrubby perennial with sky blue flowers. It is a tough plant that accepts about any well drained soil. In its native habitat it competes with prairie grasses. Cut back in midsummer to develop multi-branching plants that produce more flowers. Canopy coverage: 7 square feet.

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Salvia coccinea

Scarlet Sage

Scarlet Sage is a flowering perennial most commonly grown as an annual. Plants are perennial and short-lived, but reseed vigorously. Strong winds can snap the brittle branches so locate in protected locations.

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Salvia greggii

Autumn Sage

Autumn Sage is a small-scale shrub called a subshrub. It is one of the more forgiving flowering plants for desert regions. Best with some afternoon shade. Many selections are available in a range of flower colors. Canopy coverage: 7 square feet.

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Salvia nemorosa

Blue Sage, Meadow Sage

Salvias are a huge genus, with hundreds of species and cultivars available to gardeners. Blue Sage is available in several improved selections. Look for the Sensation series, as well as 'May Knight'. The white-flowering form shown in the photos is 'Snow Hill'. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Salvia officinalis

Garden Sage, Common Sage

Garden Sage is often grown in the herb garden for its ornamental as well as its culinary attributes. 'Aurea' and 'Tricolor' are popular selections. It is common to replace plantings after a few years due to their woody growth. Must have well drained soil. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Saponaria ocymoides

Rock Soapwort

Rock Soapwort is a candidate for the rock garden, spreading groundcover or spiller over the edge of a container or ledge. Masses of small pink flowers bloom late spring into summer. Canopy coverage: 7 square feet.

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Scabiosa columbaria

Pincushion Flower

A must for the butterfly garden. Deadhead (remove) spent flowers frequently for continuous bloom. 'Butterfly Blue', shown in photos, is a popular selection. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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