How to grow a garden of Colorado native plants
Folks in Colorado know that there's no telling what type of weather each day will bring during winter. A sunny morning can easily follow a windy night of snowfall. However, the opposite is true when summer rolls around. During the warmer months, residents know to expect a hot and dry climate. While families use pools and air conditioning to safeguard against the heat, Mother Nature has its own defense. Many Colorado plants are drought-tolerant and acclimated to the higher elevation, which means a garden full of native flowers and shrubbery will be fruitful all season long. Here are a few tips to get started in this landscaping venture:
Be unique and reap the benefits
Standard flowers like pansies and marigolds fill gardens everywhere, so growing native species can easily make a yard stand out. Homeowners can be the talk of the block by opting for some of the beautiful, natural plants the state has to offer.
As The City of Boulder website explained, going with native buds not only gives homeowners an edge in creativity, but it also provides an advantage in the survival of their gardens. During the millions of years that certain plants have developed in Colorado, many of the species adapted to the weather and are able to thrive with minimal water and maintenance. If these plants can go without rainfall, they can also live without a sprinkler.
Know the native plants
Of course, growing a garden of native plants means homeowners must know which species to cultivate. Here are a few options:
- Rubber rabbitbrush: Otherwise known as chamisa, this plant is abundant in the western half of the U.S. Its yellow blossoms stand on stems that range from 1-6 feet tall and have a whitish green hue. However, because this plant is so widespread throughout the country, it has a number of subspecies and may vary in color. In addition to creating a picturesque scene, homeowners who plant rubber rabbitbrush may receive visits from beautiful butterflies.
- Wood's rose: A perennial, this indigenous plant blossoms into beautiful purple flowers atop red, prickly stems in June. As with all of Colorado's native landscape, wood's rose can survive in coarse soil and amid dry climates. As homeowners gaze out their windows at the garden, they may even see wildlife such as white-tailed deer and moose coming to feed on the roses' fruits.
- Sulphur flower: As with the rubber rabbitbrush, the sulphur flower yields a bright shade of yellow. Able to grow at an altitude of 10,500 feet, this indigenous species would make a great asset to any Colorado garden. This plant's nectar attracts cythera metalmark, lupine blue and Rocky Mountain dotted-blue butterflies.
- Golden currant: Colorado residents looking to enjoy native shrubs would do well by growing the golden currant. Able to reach heights of 4-6 feet, this plant yields yellow flowers and black fruits, which attract hungry birds. Its delightful clove scent adds an extra sensory element to this unique species.
- Spiderwort: This native plant produces small flowers with a powerful blue color atop grass-like stems. As such, a widespread garden of spiderworts gives the yard a natural look, allowing homeowners to truly embrace a Colorado-appropriate landscape. Additionally, spiderwort can grow partly in the shade, which is perfect for yards that get covered in the mountains' shadows.
Go to the right plant and seed source
While the plants listed above grow naturally in Colorado's drought tolerant landscapes, that doesn't mean homeowners should pluck flowers along hiking trails or parks. In fact, doing so is illegal depending on the location. As such, it's important to go to a reputable supplier.
That being said, some greenhouses advertise plants as indigenous when they really aren't. Homeowners should conduct some research to verify the names of native species before making a landscaping purchase.
With the right knowledge and tools, any Colorado resident can turn his or her backyard into an ideal space for native plants.