Guide to Colorado Perennials: The Heart of High Altitude Gardening


Plant Reference



November 8, 2023

Guide to Colorado Perennials: The Heart of High Altitude Gardening

The allure of Mountain West and High Plains gardening lies in its unique landscape — a blend of undulating terrains, varying altitudes, and challenging weather conditions. With the right assortment of perennials, this environment transforms into a breathtaking canvas of colors and textures. Let's embark on a journey to unveil the wonders of Mountain West perennials.

Understanding Mountain West Perennials

Nestled in the vast expanse of the Mountain West and High Plains regions, these perennials have evolved to withstand the test of time and terrain. With roots going deep into the soil, they can access water during dry spells, and their robust structures can brave the harshest winters.

Benefits of Mountain West Perennials

Bright purple flowers

Diversity in Color and Form

From the gentle hues of the Blue Flax to the fiery spectacle of the Blanket Flower, these perennials bring a diverse range of colors, shapes, and sizes.

Year-Round Interest

Due to varied bloom times, the landscape remains dynamic throughout the year. While some plants awaken in the spring, others keep the beauty alive into late autumn.

Sustainable Choice

Native to the region, these perennials support local wildlife, from bees to birds, ensuring a balanced ecosystem.

Spotlight on Noteworthy Mountain West Perennials

1. Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)

Named after explorer Meriwether Lewis, this perennial graces landscapes with sky-blue petals. While it thrives in full sun, it's adaptable to partial shade.

  • Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
  • Special Traits: Attracts butterflies

2. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata)

A native wildflower, its warm tones are reminiscent of the setting sun. It's not just a visual delight but also a favorite among pollinators.

  • Bloom Time: Summer to early fall
  • Soil Preference: Sandy or loamy soil
  • Special Traits: Deer resistant

3. Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus)

This perennial stands tall with its deep blue-violet flowers, making a statement in any garden setting.

  • Bloom Time: Mid to late summer
  • Soil Preference: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils
  • Special Traits: Drought tolerant

4. Golden Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha)

With its yellow, long-spurred flowers, this perennial adds a touch of gold to the garden, attracting hummingbirds in droves.

  • Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained soils
  • Special Traits: Fragrant flowers

Expert Tips for Cultivating Mountain West Perennials

Planting Guide: Opt for a mix of perennials with different bloom times. This ensures that your garden remains vibrant throughout the seasons.

Soil Matters: While these perennials are hardy, they flourish best in well-aerated soil. Enhance your soil with organic matter for optimal results.

Sunlight Spectrum: While most Mountain West perennials love the sun, ensure you research the specific sunlight needs of each plant.

Natural Companions: Consider companion planting. For instance, the bright flowers of the Blanket Flower contrast beautifully with the subdued tones of the Blue Flax.

In Conclusion

The Mountain West region, with its unique topography and climatic conditions, is a treasure trove of botanical wonders. By introducing Mountain West perennials into your garden, you're not just planting flowers but embedding a slice of this majestic region into your personal space. Every bloom is a testament to nature's adaptability and resilience. Embrace these perennials and let your garden be a continual ode to nature's magnificence.

Frequently Asked Questions On Mountain West Perennials

1. Can I plant Mountain West perennials in other regions?

Yes, while these perennials are native to the Mountain West and High Plains regions, many can adapt to other regions, provided they have similar soil and climatic conditions.

2. How often should I water these perennials?

Watering needs can vary based on the specific perennial and the current weather conditions. Generally, these plants are drought-resistant, so they can withstand periods of low rainfall. However, during the growing season, a consistent watering schedule can help.

3. Do these perennials require fertilizing?

Mountain West perennials are generally hardy and can thrive in native soils. However, adding a layer of compost or a slow-release organic fertilizer during planting can give them a good start.

4. How do I handle pests or diseases in my garden?

While these native plants tend to be more resistant to local pests and diseases, it's essential to monitor your garden. If you notice any issues, identify the specific problem and treat using organic or recommended remedies.

5. Can Mountain West perennials be grown in containers?

Yes, many Mountain West perennials can thrive in containers. Ensure you choose an appropriate-sized container with good drainage and use a quality potting mix.