Colorado’s climate is naturally very dry and its native plant species typically survive off very little water. What does that mean for someone who is trying to grow a luscious garden? While your watering and planting routine may have to be more rigorous, you can still grow and maintain a beautiful garden. Whether you plan to grow from the soil in Centennial or perhaps in large planters in Denver, you have many outdoor flowers, cacti, trees, and grasses to choose from no matter where you live!
Colorado is known for a few things: high altitude, bright sunshine, dry climate, and minimal rainfall. This means there are a few factors to consider when growing your garden. Be prepared to deal with the following:
- Low humidity
- Fluctuating temperatures
- Clay-based soil
- Strong & drying winds
Any of these things can really impact your garden. However, many plants can survive in these conditions, allowing you to have a thriving garden if you choose the right flowers and plants. On the other hand, thanks to the many days of sunshine throughout the year, Colorado produces some beautiful, colorful flowers and very nutritious vegetables. To help you get started, here are some of the best outdoor plants to grow in Colorado…
Despite Colorado having a very low level of humidity, there are many flowers that only require low to medium levels of moisture. Thankfully, all these flowers love to bask in the Colorado sun.
The Common Yarrow is otherwise known as the plumajillo, which stands for “little feather.” Interestingly, it can also help stop bleeding from open wounds, earning it the nickname “nosebleed plant.” It thrives in drier climates, where it can grow natively as a weed. It likes growings in native grasslands, making it a perfect addition to your garden, where it requires low amounts of water and lots of sun!
Surprisingly, this plant is not truly related to other sage species and falls into the perennial family. It has woody stems that make it look more like a shrub than a flower, however, it flowers very beautifully in the summer. The Fringed Sage has a very powerful aroma and has been used for various medicinal purposes by indigenous peoples. It grows in the Rocky Mountain climate with no issue, requiring very little water and a lot of sun like its friend, the Common Yarrow.
Because of how urban the Denver metro area has become, we often forget there are many native cactus species that reside here. Colorado has mountain, grassland, and desert terrains, making it one of the most diverse landscapes in the US.
The Prickly Pear, otherwise called Opuntia, cactus is a popular cactus species in Colorado. It flowers beautiful pink, yellow, red, white, or orange petals. The main part of the cactus varies in color as well, from green, yellow, to purple paddles. Pricky Pear is an edible addition you can grow in your garden, however, don’t forget about its sharp needles!
Plains Yucca or the Yucca glauca looks like a large, green sea urchin. This cactus has a rich history for many indigenous tribes, with many medicinal and culinary uses. Its dried leaves have also been used as ropes and crafts for various ceremonial art pieces. The Yucca is great to add to your garden, as it does not need much water and loves to sunbathe.
Because of Colorado’s sporadic snowy weather and strong winds, trees and shrubs tend to be smaller in size than average. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t have beautiful trees shading your home!
The Rocky Mountain Maple, as its name suggests, is native to this region. It is a small, delicate species of tree that reaches 25 ft when fully grown. It produces small yellow-green flowers in the springtime. To cover some of your shade-loving plants, adding a Rocky Mountain Maple to your yard can really make a difference in terms of sun exposure and temperature.
Everyone loves the sweet smell of pine trees. Some people claim the Ponderosa Pine tree has an aromatic fragrance of vanilla, although some people claim it vaguely resembles turpentine or that it doesn’t smell at all. While it will take many years for this pine to fully mature, having Ponderosa Pines on your property can give your home a cabin-in-the-woods feel. The pines are not very sharp and can grow up to 8 inches long!
In between your flowers and shrubs, you may find that your landscape needs some grass. The most common species of grass typically require little water and lots of sunshine, making the Colorado climate an ideal natural habitat for them.
This grass is an important good for grazing animals. Indian Rice Grass is very resilient, as it is able to reseed itself after being damaged by wildfires or overgrazing. They grow in the space they are given but can grow very large if given ample room, making for a nice filler plant for your garden.
This fibrous grass can grow anywhere from 1-3 ft, making it another good plant to use as a filler or border to your garden. They survive all year round and are tolerant of both shade and sun, as well as moist and dry soil. It attracts many different types of moths and butterflies, making it a good pollinator plant for the rest of your garden.
If you’re trying to grow a garden as a newcomer, getting your plants to survive the Colorado climate may require a bit of a learning curve. However, there are many native flowers, trees, cacti, and grasses that thrive under the dry and sunny conditions Colorado is known for. You may need to have a more structured planting and water routine, but having a beautiful garden and landscape for your home is absolutely doable. Plus, growing native plant species is very helpful in promoting the natural ecosystem!