Plants even a black thumb cannot kill
Anygardencenter that sellsBotanical Interests seeds. ( a. k. a. yellow alyssum, madwort) Downside? Ages out ( meaning individual plants will die, usually
You think you have a black thumb. Or you’re new to Colorado and you’ve recently been made aware that your new home state’s soil, weather, sun, seasons and critters are completely different fromthe place you just left. Either way, you’re daunted.
Gardener, take heart. Given average soil ( meaning, pretty sad) and average sunlight ( meaning, pretty fierce), the following top 10 list is a good place to start.
All of these plants are inexpensive problem- solvers, not problem- makers. They can take our dry conditions, especially if you pamper them with the sprinkler a little bit during their first year. Most are perennials, meaning you plant them once and they keep on giving, or they self- seed enough to give you new plants to take their place nearby.
Of course, you have to dig a little, get a little dirty, to plant them. But the good news on thework front is this: Save yourself money andwork by buying the little guys. In other words, a smaller perennial or tree or shrub means you dig a smaller hole; the plant needs lesswater; and it adjusts to its newhome sooner and better. Almost all of these plants are ones Growwriters and staffers have grown themselves. Weweeded out the failures and the worst of the bullies for you, and we also compiled a list of also- rans.
OK: Ready? Set? Dig. A whole season of beauty is waiting for you.
This French loose- leaf buttery lettuce lives up to its name and lets you speak some French ( it’s also called Merveille de Quatre Saisons). Green leaves splashed with red makes it colorful on a plate. I’ve cut this lettuce for Thanksgiving salads and Easter dinners.
Needs: Regular, gentle watering until it’s an inch or two high; a permeable row cover helps the seeds get started outdoors. A big snow or hard frost will kill it, but protect it with plastic just above the leaves and it soldiers on through a chilly night. Works great in containers.
Plant it with: French Breakfast radishes or Hakurai turnips ( they distract the flea beetles); herbs or Asian greens; in a mixed container with other greens; in any spare space in a veggie bed or cold frame.
Downside? None. If a freeze kills it, just dig it into the soil for the worms.
Why grow it: Gives you an intense, bright swath of yellow flowers inmidspring. When not blooming, it’s a soft gray- green ground cover. Great for borders or bright punctuations in a naturalistic bed. Durable and self- seeds, but not aggressively.
Needs: Prefers sun, but totally not fussy about soil or drainage. Drought tolerant.
Best feature: Crowds out weeds, sometimes even bindweed.
Size: 6- 12 inches tall and wide at maturity; you can buy it most cheaply in 2×2 pots).
Plant it with: Dark- burgundy “Queen of Night” tulips; shrub roses; white daffodils; or anything that will bloom while or after the flowers are spent. after 4- 5 years, but the self- seeding will give you new ones).
Where to find: Most garden centers with decent perennial departments.
My bright- purple reticulatas reliably bloom in the first weeks of March, sticking their speckled tongues out at raging wind. They’re only 3- inches tall, but aren’t as drought- sensitive as crocuses or snowdrops. Youwill never be sorry you planted them. Buy three times as many as you think you need. I have not found them to multiply in my clay, but your mileage may vary.
Bonus: The bulbs are tiny, so you don’t have to dig as deep as you do for tulips and daffs. Also, critters ( rabbits, squirrels) tend to ignore them. And if you buy lots, they’ll set you back as little as 15 cents each.
Needs: Sun; a little wind protection doesn’t go amiss. Water every other week or so if spring is superdry and windy ( like this one).
Plant it with: Squill, crocuses or other extra- early bulbs. Almost nothing is blooming as early, so nestle themamongdwarf evergreens, manzanitas, euonymousor rock features.
Downside? None. When the blooms are spent, dwarf iris send up green spires of foliage. You don’t
Double lilac varieties pack an extra- fragrant punch.