Pollinator Plants Ideal for Colorado Gardens


Tips & Tricks



November 8, 2023

Pollinator Plants Ideal for Colorado Gardens

The beauty and environmental significance of pollinator plants cannot be overstated. Colorado, with its unique climate and terrain, offers a treasure trove of plants that are not only pollinator magnets but also resilient and vibrant. Dive into this detailed exploration of the top pollinator plants that flourish in Colorado's landscape.

Pollinator Plants: The Cornerstones of a Vibrant Colorado Garden

bright pink flowers for a colorful garden

1. Aster (Aster spp.)

Asters, belonging to the large genus Aster, are a staple in many Colorado gardens.

  • Color Varieties: Spanning from whites and pinks to deep purples and blues.
  • Bloom time: Asters light up gardens from late summer to the onset of fall.
  • Height: Depending on the specific species, they can range from a modest 1 foot to an impressive 5 feet.
  • Soil Preference: Well-drained soil with moderate moisture.
  • Additional Benefit: They are also known to attract a range of butterflies.

2. Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus)

Native to the region, this perennial is hardy and vibrant.

  • Color: Displays beautiful blue-violet hues.
  • Bloom time: Its peak blooming period stretches from late spring to early summer.
  • Height: Typically grows between 1 to 3 feet.
  • Soil Preference: Thrives in well-drained soil and can tolerate dry conditions.
  • Additional Benefit: Hummingbirds are particularly fond of this plant.

3. Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

Boasting yellow/gold blooms in the fall, Goldenrods are essential for late-season pollinators.

  • Color: They showcase brilliant yellow flowers.
  • Bloom time: Active from late summer through to fall.
  • Height: Generally between 2 to 4 feet.
  • Soil Preference: Adaptable to various soil types, but prefer slightly acidic conditions.
  • Additional Benefit: They can also serve as host plants for various butterfly species.

4. Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus spp.)

This native shrub is not only drought-resistant but also a late bloomer.

  • Color: Adorns gardens with golden-yellow clusters.
  • Bloom time: It peaks in late summer.
  • Height: Grows typically between 3 to 5 feet.
  • Soil Preference: Prefers well-drained, sandy soils.
  • Additional Benefit: Valuable for native bees and other pollinators during the late season.

Why Diverse Plant Selection is Imperative

It's pivotal to provide a mixture of flower shapes, sizes, and colors in your garden. By doing so, you cater to the varying preferences and needs of different pollinators. This diverse selection ensures a consistent and ample source of nectar and pollen, encouraging pollinators to frequent your garden throughout the growing season.

Crafting the Perfect Pollinator Garden: Design Tips

Purple shrub in a diverse garden

Layers Are Key

Creating a tiered garden ensures every space is utilized efficiently. Begin with low-lying ground covers, progressing to mid-height perennials, followed by taller shrubs, and climaxing with the majesty of trees.

Ensure Year-round Blooms

To keep pollinators visiting regularly, select plants that bloom at different times. This guarantees there's always something in flower, offering nectar and pollen.

Prioritize Native Species

Native plants of Colorado have co-evolved with local pollinators. These plants, being naturally attuned to the regional climate and soil, often require less maintenance and resources, making them eco-friendly choices.

Concluding Notes

Creating a pollinator-friendly garden in Colorado is a celebration of nature's synergy. By incorporating a rich tapestry of plants that cater to a variety of pollinators, you not only enrich your garden's aesthetics but also contribute positively to the environment. As pollinators flit from flower to flower, take a moment to appreciate the delicate balance of nature and your role in enhancing it.

FAQ on Pollinator Plants for Colorado Gardens

Why are pollinators important for Colorado gardens?

Pollinators play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity. They facilitate the reproduction of flowering plants, which leads to the production of fruits, seeds, and vegetables. This not only supports the local food chain, from birds to humans, but also ensures genetic diversity within plant populations.

Are all pollinator plants native to Colorado?

While many pollinator plants are native to Colorado and have co-evolved with local pollinators, there are also non-native plants that can be beneficial for pollinators. It's important to ensure that any non-native plants introduced do not become invasive or outcompete local species.

How do I care for pollinator plants during Colorado's winter months?

Most native pollinator plants are well-adapted to Colorado's winters. It's advisable to avoid pruning in the fall as many pollinators, like certain bee species, utilize plant stems for overwintering. Instead, prune in early spring before new growth starts. Additionally, leaving fallen leaves can provide shelter for overwintering pollinators.

Can I create a pollinator garden in a small space or urban setting?

Absolutely! Pollinators can benefit from gardens of all sizes. Even a small balcony or patio can host a variety of container plants that attract pollinators. Every plant counts when it comes to supporting biodiversity.

How do I deal with pests in a pollinator-friendly garden without harming the pollinators?

Adopting organic and natural pest control methods is key. Encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings that naturally keep pests in check. If you must use pesticides, opt for organic options and apply them in the evening when most pollinators are less active.

Are there certain colors or types of flowers that attract more pollinators?

Different pollinators are attracted to different colors and shapes. For example, bees tend to be drawn to blue, purple, and yellow flowers, while hummingbirds prefer red and orange tubular-shaped flowers. A diverse garden with a variety of colors and flower shapes will attract a wide range of pollinators.

How often should I water my pollinator plants?

Watering needs vary based on the specific plant species and local climate conditions. Many native Colorado plants are adapted to the region's semi-arid climate and may require less frequent watering once established. It's essential to research each plant's requirements and monitor soil moisture.

Do pollinator plants attract unwanted wildlife to the garden?

While pollinator plants attract beneficial insects, they might also draw other wildlife like birds and butterflies, which many gardeners consider a bonus. Occasionally, they may attract herbivores like deer. If this is a concern, consider plants that are less palatable to deer or use natural deterrents.

Can pollinator plants thrive in shaded areas?

While many pollinator plants prefer full sun, there are several species adapted to partial or full shade. Examples include Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea) and Western Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa). Ensure you select plants suited to your garden's specific light conditions.