Catering to Colorado's Native Plants

April 12th, 2018

Please, excuse your excuses when it comes to gardening. Just because you don’t have the magical “green thumb” doesn’t mean that you can’t cultivate a flourishing garden. You simply need to cater to your audience.

In this case, we are not referring to Colorado’s rapidly growing population as the main target audience. Rather, you will need to be mindful of the steadfast qualities of the Colorado landscape that have been present for centuries on end. Primarily, this means being mindful of the alkaline soil and the quickly changing weather patterns.

The best way to set yourself up for success is to work with your surroundings by selecting plants that are native to Colorado. The benefits of using native plants are plentiful. Native species require less external inputs such as water and fertilizers. They are also more resistant to pests and diseases when planted in a landscape that mimics where they would naturally grow in the wild.

This summer, whether you are attempting to care for a garden for the first time or you are taking a second (or a third, or a fourth) stab at it, go easy on yourself. Consider integrating some of the following native plants to your landscape:

  • Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon Strictus): Preferring the dry climate and sunny days, penstemons flourish in well-lit areas with little water. Their bluish-purple flowers bloom from summer through fall and they can grow as tall as 36 inches.
  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia Aristata): Flourishing all summer long, blanket flowers will add a vibrant and cheerful bloom to your garden. Delivering bright red, yellow and orange leaves, these flowers attract pollinators and are deer proof. Perfect if you live within spitting distance of the foothills!
  • Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida Columnifera): Attracting the butterflies and bees, the prairie coneflower is a heavy bloomer growing a nice shade of mahogany-red petals edged with yellow. These flowers love to bathe in the summer sun and are highly drought tolerant.
  • Prairie Winecups (Callirhoe Involucrata): Prairie winecups are as easy to grow as life feels when you are sipping on a glass of wine watching the sunset. Their bright magenta-pink flowers provide ground cover making for good erosion control.
  • Rocky Mountain Columbine (Aquilegia Caerulea): Nothing screams Colorado pride like growing the state flower in your own backyard. While these flowers can thrive at high altitudes, if you are growing them on the front range, they prefer cool and shaded beds that receive regular water.
  • Blazing Star (Liatris Punctata): Sprouting purple flowers which bloom July through September, the blazing star will form a deep root system that helps protect it in hot and dry climates.

The best part about the above plants is that they are all perennials. This means they are persistent by nature. These Colorado loving native plants will grow annually returning for their blooming season without the need to replant! Consider these plants your start to finding success in the garden.

But why stop there? Once these native plants give you a stroke of confidence, let the success party trickle into your lawn. Maintaining a healthy lawn doesn’t have to be complicated. Some quick tips include setting a sprinkler system up to avoid overwatering, providing nutrients to your soil by using a fertilizer, and attempting to keep your lawn thick and lush to avoid weeds from growing.

With these native plants and lawn care tips combined, you just might see your thumbs turn a shade greener with time! If you have any questions about the plants or tips in this article, swing by Fossil Creek Nursery at 7029 South College Avenue in Fort Collins to talk to any one of our experts on staff!