Perennials for Utah

By Natalie Boyack, Conservation Garden Park

There are many beautiful plants that grow in Utah. Some are annuals, and some are perennials. Annuals are plants that only survive for one season and are often replaced every year. Perennials are plants that come back year after year. There are some unique challenges that perennials face in Utah. They need to be able to survive hot, dry summers and our cold, sometimes wet winters. Even with these challenges, there are many that do well here. Here are some of my personal favorites for Utah yards:

Redbirds in a Tree (Scrophularia macrantha): This is one of my favorite perennials. It is related to penstemon, but the crimson red, tubular flowers that bloom on stocks above the serrated dark green foliage can resemble little red birds sitting in a tree. It generally gets about 3-4 feet tall and about 1.5 feet wide. It doesn’t need much water and blooms during the summer months.

Cheyenne Spirit Coneflower (Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’): There are many kinds of coneflowers, but one of my favorite varieties is Cheyenne Spirit. It has flowers in colors from red, orange, pink, yellow, to creamy white. It blooms through the summer and fall. It generally gets about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. The dark green leaves are attractive even before the flowers develop.

Rosy Jane Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Rosy Jane’): One of my favorite types of gaura is the Rosy Jane variety. The delicate flowers have a brilliant display of white flowers with hot pink edges, and bloom on wiry stems. The deep green, narrow leaves tend to get a rosy tint in cooler weather. It grows about 1-3 feet tall and about 1-2 feet wide and can be a colorful addition to a landscape. It blooms summer through fall and does well in full sun.

Desert Four O’Clock (Mirablilis multiflora): This is a great plant that does well in sun or shade. It requires very little water and is very adaptable. It is a good option for under pine trees as well. It is a large spreading plant that has a deep tap root. It has lush, dark green leaves all season and is native to Utah. It has beautiful magenta blooms mid-summer through frost. It does not like to be overwatered. In the fall the stems detach cleanly from the root making for easy clean up. It gets 1-2’ tall and 5-8 feet wide.

Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata): This bright yellow flower has brown centers and produce a strong chocolate fragrance, especially in the early morning. It requires very little water and can handle very hot areas. It is a great addition to many park strips. The seeds also provide food for birds. It blooms early summer through frost and gets about 1-1.5 feet tall and wide. It does spread, but is easily controlled through consistent maintenance.

There are many other amazing perennials that also do well. These and hundreds of others can be seen at Conservation Garden Park in person or check out our online plant database at conservationgardenpark.org/plants to find great options for your yard.

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