by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Snippet: The best outdoor potted plants. Flowers that are hard to kill. Outdoor plants that don’t need much care. Low-maintenance outdoor plants. Unkillable outdoor plants. What plants are easy to grow outside? Plants for people with black thumbs.
A good friend came into the garden center this week wanting guidance in planting a new raised bed wrapped around her house. She knew a cottage flower garden was her style but was overwhelmed by where to start. As a fellow entrepreneur, she also felt the reality of taking care of delicate plants with her busy schedule, deadlines, and family commitments.
We started by topping off the bed with Watters Potting Soil to add some freshness and vigor to the Garden. Each plant was watered in with Root & Grow to reduce plant stress and encourage fast root growth and more flowers. We then followed up with nutrient-rich 7-4-4 All Purpose Food to promote chubby plants for increased bloom, fragrance, and color. She was then ready for spring planting.
The top performers virtually impossible to kill are below. You’re going to be happy with any or all of these local mountain-hardy blooms, and spring is the ideal garden season.
Blue Hill Meadow Sage – Spectacular perennial with 1′ foot tall spikes of pure blue flowers spread like wildflowers in the Garden. Very happy in hot rock gardens, containers, and naturalized areas. Deer, rabbits, antelope, and javelinas all detest this pretty bloomer.
Bronze Carpet Sedum – This beautiful trailing succulent forms a lush, ground-hugging mat that needs little water once established. Stunning pink flowers rise above the bronze-red foliage. Useful in borders, rock gardens, and containers to provide contrast to green or gray-leaved plants.
Butterfly Bush – Gardeners who make room for this bloomer in a landscape soon discover this bush is a one-stop buffet for butterflies. The long flower panicles are comprised of many individual blooms, each with a rich store of nectar. Happy butterflies linger over and around the shrub for long periods.
Crazy Blue Russian Sage – Plant en masse to add a blue Southwest drift of color to the landscape. The perfect alternative to lavender in cottage gardens or along fence lines of pickets or iron. Its casual character is equally suited for wild gardens, amidst rock outcroppings and large boulders. Outstanding at edges of dry stream beds with wildflowers. A magnificent container specimen when planted in thick, unglazed clay pots.
Dwarf Daylily – Stella D’ Oro daylilies have become a mountain staple. Daylilies have much more to offer than the famous gold, everblooming variety. Although the color spectrum is limited to the color wheel’s warmer side, astonishing color patterns and flower forms take the available cultivar numbers into the thousands.
Giga Blue Pincushion Flower – The largest of pincushion flowers found with exquisite violet-blue flowers. The 2-inch blooms arise on stiff, upright stems above a small, naturally compact mound of finely cut foliage. Butterflies are naturally drawn to the honey scent.
Jupiter’s Beard or Centranthus – Globular clusters of fragrant, bright carmine-red flowers complemented by sedum-like foliage of blues and greens. Blooms for an extremely long season in poor, dry soils, spreading like wild poppy and penstemon.
Spanish Gold Broom – This fast-growing, naturally rounded shrub boasts bright green stems with colorful yellow flowers most of the spring. Thrives in heat, drought, and the abuse of poor garden soils. Excellent for hillside erosion control, as a tall border, or massed in a minimal-care or xeric landscape.
Sunset Blanket Flower – Perpetual, vibrant red flowers do not fade in the summer heat. Blooms from late spring right until frost if spent blooms are deadheaded regularly. A showy and easy to grow addition to sunny beds, borders, and container plantings.
Walkers Low Catmint– More than just a little herb for the cat to frolic, gained cult status when this variety was named 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year. Stunning gray leaves complement a natural border, and bees delight in the nectar-rich violet blooms that appear throughout the summer months. Plants grow knee-high but have a prostrate habit that looks attractive at the edge of a wall or path.
There are so many perennial choices at Watters Garden Center right now, but this list comprises easy-to-grow varieties. Visit the garden center for more companion plants that thrive in mountain landscapes.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping local gardeners grow just the right flowers here at Watters Garden Center.
Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through her web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .