Strategies to Use on Picking Perennials for Your Albuquerque Landscaping – Part One

Strategies to Use on Picking Perennials for Your Albuquerque Landscaping – Part One

If you live in Albuquerque, you know how challenging it can be to grow a beautiful landscape. The climate here is no joke – it’s arid, the sun beats down, and the soil tends to be alkaline. As a fellow gardener, I feel your pain!

But don’t worry, we can totally make this work. The secret? Choosing perennials that actually thrive in our tough conditions with minimal fuss. Let me walk you through some of my favorite hardy plants for Albuquerque yards

Sedums – Colorful, Tough Groundcovers

Let’s start with sedums, which are practically made for the desert! One of my personal favorites is a Sedum called “Angelina.” It’s a low growing groundcover with the coolest spiraling yellowish foliage.

It looks almost like a tiny tumbleweed, but bright green. And get this – it needs hardly any water! Angelina sedum is one tough cookie. Other sedums can add unique textures and colors too, like Dragon’s Blood sedum with its burgundy leaves or Coral Carpet stonecrop with its cute coral pink blooms.

Sedums grow super easy from cuttings too, so you can propagate more to fill in an area over time.

Asters for a Pop of Late Color

If you get the winter blues when your garden fades out, asters are about to become your new BFFs! They bloom their cheerful heads off even after everything else has called it quits.

One of the best for us is Purple Dome aster, which stays nice and compact but totally loaded with vibrant violet flowers in the fall.

Kind of like a little puff of flower power when you really need it! Asters play well with all sorts of other plants too like Russian sage, coneflowers, grasses…you name it. Give asters some sun, occasional water if it’s hot, and watch them thrive year after year.

Russian Sage for Silver Foliage

Girlfriends, if you don’t have any Russian sage, it’s about to become your new favorite. Fine silvery foliage, airy purple blooms, deer resistant – what’s not to love?

This is one gorgeous plant. Use it as a backdrop to show off other beauties, try it as a groundcover, or mass it as a silvery hedge. The fragrant fuzzy spikes look amazing next to yellow flowers like daylilies or black-eyed Susans.

And did I mention the pollinators go nuts for it?! Be sure to give Russian sage room to grow its airy shape.

Black-Eyed Susans for Sunny Yellow Flowers

Alright, who doesn’t love these sunny yellow cuties? Black-eyed Susans are the essence of summer with their happy daisy-like faces! These flowers just keep on blooming their hearts out well into fall. Then you get neat seed heads for winter interest.

Goldsturm is one of the best varieties for our area. Now just picture clumps of them bordering your yard or sprinkled throughout…golden yellow delight!

They easily make friends with all kinds of plants, attract butterflies like no tomorrow, and did I mention they’re basically indestructible? Sounds perfect to me!

Grasses Add Structure and Sway

Ornamental grasses are serious eye candy for your landscapes. For Albuquerque, you can’t go wrong with Karl Foerster feather reed grass.

This tall, slender grass sways gracefully in the breeze and provides beautiful vertical contrast to mounded flowers and foliage around it. Combine it with some Asters and Russian sage and get your groove on! Grasses bloom then fade to tan shades that look neat all winter.

And Karl Foerster grass helps control erosion if you have areas prone to that. Find the right spot for this beauty and let it work its magic.

More Perennial Pals for Albuquerque Yards

We’ve really just gotten started! There are soooo many more amazing perennials that thrive in Albuquerque’s climate. Here are a few more tried and true faves:

  • Penstemons – long blooming spikes in cool tones like white, pink, purple
  • Blanket Flowers – vivid orange daisy-like blooms that attract all the attention
  • Salvia – the sherbet colors of Autumn Sage keep the hummingbirds happy
  • Bearded Iris – how can you resist those regal purple and yellow blooms?!
  • Liatris – looks like fluffy purple fireworks!
  • Gaillardia – bold yellow daisies heat up the summer

My best advice is to stick with perennials labeled “drought tolerant.” That’s code for “these babies can hack it in the desert!”

Design Tips for an Albuquerque Perennial Garden

How should you arrange all these beauties? I like to use the “thriller, filler, spiller” formula. That means some tall eye-catching plants like grasses, some medium-height fillers like Salvia and Asters, and some low spillers like Sedum.

Repeat groupings of plants in 3s, 5s, or 7s for a natural look. Mix up bloom times so you get waves of flowers all season. Use things like shrubs, boulders and evergreens to “anchor” the design. Oh and don’t forget to mulch! It really helps retain moisture and keeps weeds down.

Most importantly, group plants by their sun and water needs. If a plant likes shade and frequent water, don’t stick it with a cactus!