Native plants are greatly beneficial for landscaping due to their adaptability. Colorful flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees are well adapted to our diverse climate, soils, elevations and temperatures. Many plants native to Colorado are used in residential and commercial landscapes, most notably our state tree, the Colorado blue spruce, and the quaking aspen. Plants native to a particular area are well adapted to those soil and climatic conditions. They also resist pest insects and diseases common in that area.
Colorado is a large state with diverse climates and soil conditions. Often, plants from mountain soils that drain well may not grow well in compacted clay soils found in urban areas. A native plant doesn't mean the plant is drought-tolerant. Many native plants require plenty of supplemental moisture after planting until it is established in its setting.
Some large trees native to Colorado that are frequently used in the landscape include the Colorado Blue Spruce, the limber pine, southwestern white pine, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, white fir, Narrowleaf cottonwood and Plains cottonwood.
Examples of medium to small native trees in Colorado are the quaking aspen, pinyon, bigtooth maple, bristlecone pine, Rocky Mountain juniper, Gambel oak, Rocky Mountain birch and the Utah Juniper.
Shrubs suitable for landscape use such as the false indigo/lead plant, hoptree, mountain mahogany, Apache plume, New Mexico privet, rabbitbrush, chokecherry, three-leaf sumac, potentilla, fernbush, sagebrush, western water birch, service berry and western sandcherry are native to Colorado.
Cool season native grasses are defined as grasses which green up earlier in spring and include Indian Rice Grass, Arizona Fescue, June grass and Western wheatgrass.
Warm season native grasses (which stay dormant longer in the spring) are Big Bluestem, Buffalo grass and Switchgrass.
For "Xeriscape plant choices" refer to message number 1907.
For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension fact sheet(s).
- Native Shrubs for Colorado Landscapes
- Native Trees for Colorado Landscapes
- Native Herbaceous Perennials for Colorado Landscapes
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Updated Tuesday, July 22, 2014