The High-Country Plant Palette

Your mountain garden can thrive if you start by choosing the right plants! These are plants that will tolerate the high-altitude conditions in your particular climate zone. Many trees, shrubs, perennials, and cool-season annuals grow well at higher elevations.

The Mountain Floral Palette
Consider classics like columbine, delphinium, lupine, bleeding heart, shasta daisies, and gaillardia in your garden. Enduring favorites like peonies and colorful oriental poppies are the mainstays of many a mountain perennial garden — and for good reason: they are all plants that will thrive at elevation!

Mountain gardeners should select perennial varieties that bloom in early to mid-summer. Late bloomers (good at lower altitudes) will get caught by the early fall mountain freezes. Brown-eyed Susan, painted daisy, yarrow, sunflowers, and columbine can also be seeded or planted in gardens or natural areas.

Don’t overlook roses. Grafted roses may not be winter hardy over 6500′ and should be treated as an annual in the mountains. Look for roses grown on their own roots including miniature roses and Rugosa roses. The Canadian, Parkland, and Explorer series also do well. It is important to follow instructions on winterizing your roses by protecting canes and roots from cold temperatures.

For the Vegetable Garden
Look for all of those cool-season veggies that grow so well at lower altitudes in the spring and fall. They’ll be happy all summer long in the cooler growing climate in the mountains! Vegetables like leafy greens and root vegetables are good choices, as are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and peas.

Shrubs That Will Shrug Off the Cold
There are many shrubs that do well in a mountain landscape. The curly leaf mountain mahogany is a native evergreen and has a beautiful upright shape. It sports attractive seed heads in late summer. The tiny trumpet honeysuckle would make a nice addition to a mountain landscape. It offers showy, fragrant, reddish-pink trumpet-shaped flowers for many weeks in the summer.

One of our favorites is the serviceberry bush. It offers beautiful white flowers in the spring, followed by edible fruit (serviceberries) the service berry bush also provides fall color in shades of oranges and yellows. The red twig dogwood provides a showy red contrast against winter snow banks. It grows to a height of 3 feet with a spread of 3 feet.

The Apache plume is a native shrub with a white flowers similar to that of a rose. These are followed by feathery, rose colored seed tails. Planted against a dark background, the Apache plume’s white stems are striking. Often overlooked and many times hard to find, the Russian hawthorn is a small tree (or large shrub). The Russian hawthorn sports yellow to orange fall color and provides food for the birds in the winter. The beautiful cinnamon bark of the native river birch
gives the tall shrub an interesting winter texture.

The lingonberry, an evergreen 4 to 8 inches high is rated to zone 2 and ideal for a part shade border. This shrub is self pollinating and its berries are great for jams, jellies, and sauces.

Wild Cranberry? Yes! This conversation piece grows to zone 3 and is evergreen. The wild cranberry has delicate foliage followed by edible berries in the fall.

Echter’s plant profile signage provides and elevation guide for most plants, and our nursery, perennials, and annuals experts will be happy to answer questions about the suitability of plants for a high-altitude garden.

Remember to harden your plants off before planting! It gives them the best possible chance to adjust to their new environment!

Get to Know Microclimates!

What are Microclimates?
Knowing the importance of microclimates is essential for a garden that thrives at a high altitude. What are they? A microclimate is a small, but distinctly different climate within a larger area. These small areas may be a little warmer, cooler, wetter, or drier depending entirely on their location. Becoming aware of these small climate pockets helps mountain gardeners to choose and site plants more wisely.

Looking for warmer microclimates
Gardens on south-facing slopes are warmer and drier than gardens on north-facing slopes of the same valley at the same elevation! So a garden planted in full sun on a southern-exposed slope will have a longer, warmer growing season than other exposures. Southern exposures are a great place for plants that need more heat to come into flower before early autumn frosts.

Things like structures, fences, large rocks, walls, and trees can all act to provide protective screening from harsh winds. Their thermal mass can raise nearby temperatures and create a warmer microclimate in those areas.

Becoming aware of cooler microclimates
Plant growth is slowed by cool soil temperatures, which drive plant metabolism. When soil temps drop below 55 degrees, plants stop growing. North-facing areas and low spots on your property will naturally be cooler.

Look for any small dips and indentations on your property, which can create collections points for cold air. As a result, frost pockets may be more likely to form in those spots.

Walk through your property carefully looking for these microclimates. This will help you place your plants and shrubs where they will have a better chance at succeeding, and your mountain garden will thrive!

Sources: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/colorado-mountain-gardening-basics-7-224/

Fun with Summer Annuals!

Nothing says summer like a garden filled with bright colorful flowers. So when the spring color show begins to fade and the threat of Jack Frost visiting the garden has passed, it’s time to have some fun and plug in the summer color with these popular single-season plants.

CHOOSING ANNUALS FOR YOUR GARDEN SPACE
There are annuals that are sun lovers and annuals that prefer the shadier side of the garden. Don’t worry — there’s a palette of plants to choose from for either situation. When choosing your plants in the greenhouse, pay special attention to the amount of sunlight they will receive where you plant them.

Annuals that require full sun will need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight on their foliage each day, while part-sun plants would like 4-6 hours of sun daily. Those shade-loving plants will manage with dappled light through the leaves of trees, or less than 4 hours of sunlight daily. Note: partial & full-shade plants in Colorado must be protected from mid-day through mid-afternoon sun.

Sun loving annuals include African Daisy, geraniums, petunias, calibrachoa, and bacopa. Shade loving annuals include impatiens, begonia, lobelia, vinca vine, fuchsia, and many more. There’s no shortage of choices for these single-season plants.

Think about the final height and width of the plants in your plan. Pay attention to the recommended spacing between the plants. This will help to avoid overcrowding as the plants grow, which can encourage pest and disease problems.

When choosing colors, consider the time of day you will enjoy your flower garden. Red tends to dull at twilight, while white or silver foliage will give a nice glow to your gardens in the evening.

PREPARING TO PLANT YOUR ANNUALS
Remember to harden your plants off gradually before putting them out into the sunny garden all day. What does it mean to harden a plant off? It means to gradually expose a plant to the elements outdoors. Plants coming from the protected environment of a greenhouse need to get accustomed to drier air, brighter sunshine, and wind.

If they are set out suddenly, the change can damage them permanently. We recommend that you set them in a semi-protected area for a few days where they will get some exposure to the elements. Then, when they have been toughened somewhat, you can plant them into a fully-exposed site.

KEEP THE FLOWER POWER GOING ALL SUMMER
Annuals are pretty prolific bloomers, but they need a little maintenance to keep them looking their best.

Fertilize them regularly with a blossom booster formulation. This is particularly important with annuals that are planted in containers, since container plantings are watered more often. This flushes out nutrients in the potting soil that will need to be replaced. Feed with Jack’s Blossom Booster fertilizer every couple of weeks to maintain the summer color show. 

For in-ground annuals, mix flower fertilizer into the soil at planting time. Reapply as needed following directions on the package or use Blossom Booster regularly during the season.

Pinch your annuals back if they become leggy. You will lose a few flowers for a while, but be rewarded with many more later in the season. For some annuals deadheading (pinching off old flowers as they fade) will keep the beds looking beautiful and encourage more flowers. Most of the new varieties of annuals have so much flower power bred into them that they will continue to flower through the season with minimal maintenance. Calibrachoa is a good example.

Go ahead and get creative with your landscape this summer! Have some fun with your plant selections and design layout. Since annuals only last for one growing season, they make it easy to experiment with bright hues, textures, and forms. Whatever your style, mood, or color preference, you can easily create a garden that is uniquely “you” with the abundance of different annuals available.

Small Space Gardening

Do you dream of stepping out the back door in the summer to harvest your own homegrown vegetables for meals? Maybe you visualize long rows of spinach, corn, beans, and squash. Or maybe your dream is a flower garden with plenty of colors, textures, and fragrance. If you’ve got more dreams than space, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a garden! With a little know-how and some creative thinking, you can still harvest fresh homegrown veggies this summer and have some beautiful flower combinations too!

The Advantages of Container Gardening

Simply put, container gardens are small, portable gardens that can be placed almost anywhere. They’re perfect for patios, porches, and balconies — even along stairs!

Even those who have larger garden areas can use containers to add a touch of color to areas where it may be difficult to grow flowers in the ground. You can easily add a few pots of flowers around your raised vegetable beds to attract more essential pollinators to your food crops too!

These small, portable gardens offer so many conveniences. For example, you might add a few containers of tomatoes, lettuces, or herbs to a handy sunny spot on the patio. It’ll save a trip out to the raised beds to harvest this summer’s salads.

Hate weeding? Container gardens are easily accessible, and they’ll require little, if any weeding! Summer storm or early/late season frosts threatening your garden? You can easily move your containers to a protected spot until the weather sorts itself out. Have problems with animals raiding your strawberry patch? Plant them in a hanging basket instead! With the exception of crops like larger pumpkins or corn, you’ll find you can grow nearly anything in a container!

Containers offer so much versatility to your gardening choices, and they’re easier to put together than you think! There are just a few steps to keep in mind, and then you’ll be up and growing in no time!

Step One – Determine the Available Sun in Your Space

Whether you’re gardening in a large space or a small one, every gardener starts in the same place — how much sun do have available? It’s important because that will determine what plants will grow best in the space you have.

 

You’ll want to keep sun requirements (especially for vegetables!) in mind. Full Sun means 6 or more hours of direct sun on your plants per day. Partial Sun/Partial Shade is 4-6 hours of direct sun per day, and Full Shade is less than 4 hours of direct sun a day.

Most veggies require 6-8 hours of sun per day. Look for a space that meets that sun requirement. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers all want plenty of summer sun to produce their best. Flowers like geraniums, petunias, and African daisies will thrive in a sunny space too.

If your garden space only receives partial sun (4-6 hours per day), choose from a different plant palette. Veggies like lettuce, radishes, kale, and Swiss chard will grow fine with partial sun or filtered sun conditions. Flowers such as fuchsia, begonias, impatiens, and coleus need protection from midday sun and will provide plenty of bold color in your shadier garden spaces.

Step Two – Choose a Container

There is no shortage of choices for gardeners when it comes to containers for patios, decks, and porches. There are pots in everything from terracotta and recycled ocean plastics to glazed ceramics and even cloth! They’re all available in a seemingly unlimited number of colors and sizes.

Think about using vertical options like window boxes that fit over deck railings, or hanging baskets that will allow you to extend your gardening space upwards. Adding trellises to your pots will allow you to grow vining flowers and veggies in a smaller space.

Make sure whatever container you choose has drainage holes in the bottom, and will be large enough to provide adequate space for roots and soil, which will allow your container garden to grow and thrive.

Step Three – Add Soil

Good things grow from good soil! Like planting in a raised bed, container gardening requires a light, porous soil that will allow for good drainage.

We like Nature’s Yield Outdoor Planter Mix for containers. It’s blended with sphagnum peat moss for added moisture retention. To save on the amount of soil needed for a taller pot, use an Ups-A-Daisy insert (located in our indoor container area). It sits about 10-12″ from the top of the container, effectively raising the bottom of the pot. This reduces the weight of the containers, and helps ensure essential oxygen will reach to the lower plant roots.

Step Four – Choose Your Plants

Specialized varieties have been developed for small-space gardeners. When choosing plants look for terms like “compact,” “tidy plant habit,” or “short stature” on plant tags and seed pack descriptions.

We make it easy for you to choose plants. Our shade-loving plants are all on the north side of the greenhouse, while sun-lovers are on the south side. You can always find the sun requirement icons on our signs.

For a floral planter, follow the easy design “recipe” used by the pros: think thriller, filler, spiller. It makes plant choices easy! Choose a thriller, that is a tall plant such as dracaena spikes or maybe an ornamental grass. For your filler element, choose plants that mound like petunias, geraniums, or coleus. Finally, for something that “spills” out over the sides, think lobelia, sweet potato vine, or creeping Jenny.

For a container vegetable garden, tomatoes and peppers are favorites for patio pots, along with fresh herbs and salad veggies. Choose determinate varieties of tomatoes. They stay shorter. Add a trellis or stake to your container for growing peas, cucumbers, and mini pumpkins!

Step Five – Watering and Fertilizing Your Container Garden

When gardening in pots, remember that potted plants need a little different care than their counterparts in the ground.

The soil dries out more rapidly in containers, so keep an eye on them and make sure they’re well watered and fertilized. We like Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster for floral pots and Jack’s All Purpose or Tomato Feed for veggie containers.

 In the heat of summer, check your container gardens in the morning and the afternoon to see if they need watering. Adding a polymer like Soil Moist will help retain water in the soil.

Since container gardens are watered more often, fertilizer will get flushed from the soil faster than an in-ground garden. The nutrients your plants will need to grow and thrive should be added on a regular basis.

That’s it! In just a few simple steps you’ll be growing lush, vibrant container gardens of your own. A garden doesn’t have to cover a large area to be beautiful and enjoyable. It’s just a matter of making the best use of the space you have. Whether you decide to plant a few fresh veggies on the patio or create an abundant floral display for the front porch, get your hands in the soil and have fun with gardening in containers this summer!

Frost Hardiness

Plants vary in their ability to tolerate cold temperatures and harsh conditions. Different areas in Colorado can have drastically different climates and varying weather conditions each year. All of these factors make it difficult to determine a “safe date” to plant.

We have complied a list of plants ranging from “Very Hardy” to “Tender”. We offer recommendations on planting dates in the Denver area for each group but caution that these dates are approximations. We strongly recommend hardening off your plants (especially annuals) before planting and keeping a close eye on the weather. If needed, covering plants during cold snaps or chilly nights can help protect them.

Very Hardy Plants

Very hardy plants can typically be planted 7 weeks before the average last frost date. In the Denver Metro Area, this is usually after April 1st.

Very Hardy Flowers

Alyssum
Anchusa
Centaurea
Dracaena
Dusty Miller
Larkspur
Pansy
Snapdragon
Sweet Pea
Viola

Very Hardy Vegetables

Asparagus
Fennel
Onions
Peas
Potato
Radish
Strawberries

Hardy Plants

Hardy plants can typically be planted 5 weeks before the average last frost date. In the Denver Metro Area, this is usually after April 20th.

Hardy Flowers

Arctotis
Artemesia
Baby Blue Eyes
Bellis
Calendula
Carnation
Cerastium
Columbine
Dianthus
Diascia
Erysimum
Flowering Kale
Heuchera
Iberis
Lavender
Lenten Rose
Lobelia
Lupine
Matricaria
Myosotis
Nemesia
Osteospermum
Phlox
Roses
Vinca Vine

Hardy Vegetables

Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Kohlrabi
Lettuce
Pak Choi
Perennial Herbs
Radicchio
Rhubarb
Spinach

Half Hardy Plants

Half hardy plants can typically be planted 3 weeks before the average last frost date. In the Denver Metro Area, this is usually after May 1st.

Half Hardy Flowers

Anagallis
Angelonia
Bacopa
Bells of Ireland
Calibrachoa
California Poppy
Campanula
Coreopsis
Cosmos
Datura
Delphinium
Dichondra
Euphorbia
Felicia Daisy
Gazania
Gerbera
Gomphrena
Lotus Vine
Mexican Feather Grass
Ornamental Grasses
Pennisetum
Penstemon
Petunia
Phlox
Pincushion Flower
Regal Geranium
Ruby Grass
Rudbeckia
Sanvitalia
Stocks
Strawflower
Sutera
Sweet Pea
Trifolium
Verbena

Half Hardy Vegetables

Artichoke
Celery
Leek

Tender Plants

Tender plants can be planted when there is no longer danger of frost. In the Denver Metro Area, this is usually after May 20th.

Tender Flowers

Abutilon
Achimenes
Ageratum
Alternanthera
Alternaria
Amaranthus
Angelonia
Argyranthemum
Asparagus Fern
Aster
Banana
Balsam
Begonia
Bidens
Bouganvilla
Bower Vine
Brachycome
Browallia
Brunfelsia
Caladium
Calibrachoa
Calla Lily
Callopsis
Campanula
Canna
Cardinal Climber
Celosia
Chrysanthemum
Chrysocephalum
Cigar Plant
Clematis
Cleome
Coleus
Cordyline
Coreopsis
Crassula
Crossandra
Cuphea
Dahlberg Daisy
Dahlia
Dallas Fern
Daylily
Dipladenia
Elephant Ears
Evolvulus
Ferns
Fiber Optic Grass
Four O’Clock
Fuchsia
Geranium
Gloriosa Lily
Guara
Heliotrope
Hibiscus
Impatiens
Iresene
Iris
Jasmine
Lantana
Lisianthus
Livingstone Daisy
Lothospermum
Lysmachia
Mandevilla
Marguerite Daisy
Marigolds
Mecardonia
Melampodium
Millet
Mimulus
Moon Vine
Monopsis
Morning Glory
Napa Valley Fern
Nasturtium
Nemesia
Nicotiana
Nierembergia
Nolana
Oleander
Oxalis
Pampas Grass
Pentas
Periwinkle
Perilla
Plectranthus
Polka Dot Plant
Polygonum
Portulaca
Rudbeckia
Salpiglopssis
Salvia
Scarlet Runner Bean
Scaevola
Schizanthus
Sedum
Statice
Streptocarpella
Sunflower
Swan River Daisy
Sweet Potato Vine
Tithonia
Thumbergia
Torenia
Trachelium
Trailing Portulaca
Tropical Hibiscus
Tropical Water Plants
Veronica
Vinca
Zinnia

Tender Vegetables

Annual Herbs
Cantaloupe
Corn
Cucumber
Eggplant
Okra
Peanuts
Peppers
Pumpkin
Squash
Tomato
Watermelon

Hardening Off Annuals

HOW TO HARDEN OFF YOUR PLANTS

The gradual process of hardening off is a crucial one, like the slow but steady  way we brace our entry into a chilly lake in summer. Jumping in all at once is a shock to our system, but if we start by sticking a toe in and slowly working our way in, the total immersion is not nearly so stressful.

Plants need a period of time to get used to their new homes.  The adjustment period is called “hardening off.”  We recommend a hardening off period of about three to five days.  This will give the foliage tissue time to toughen up so the plants don’t go into shock.

COLD SPRING WEATHER

1.   Put new plants outside in a place that is protected from sun and wind.  Make sure they get watered as needed.

2.   If nights will be cooler than 38-40 degrees, bring into the garage or house.

3.   Move the plants out a littler farther each day toward the place in which they will be growing.

4.   Leave the plants out at night unless there will be low temperatures.  They still might need covering at night if there is a drastic change in the weather.

5.   Plant on a cloudy day and they will take right off.  Using a root stimulator when planting will help.

WARM SPRING WEATHER

The process above can be sped up, but it is basically the same.

HOT WEATHER

The process here is somewhat different since you are acclimating your plants to hot sun and drying winds.

1.   Put plants in a cool, protected place for a day or two.

2.   Gradually move plants towards their new location over a period of three or four days.

3.   Plant in the cool of the evening or on a cloudy day.

4.   Be prepared to shade with a shingle or board until plants are settled in.

5.   Water as needed.  Always check the soil first.

Rose Classifications

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the selection of roses in our rose house! So many beautiful blooms in a seemingly endless variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. These classic garden staples now number over 300 species and several thousand varieties! How can you begin to narrow down which rose will the best one for your garden?

Most rose specialists would divide them into three basic categories: Old Garden Roses, Wild Roses and Modern Garden Roses. Each of these categories has their advantages and drawbacks, not to mention countless gorgeous varieties to choose from.

Old Garden Roses
These are the predecessors of today’s hybridized roses. Often referred to as “antique” or “heirloom”, old garden roses have been around since before 1867. They’re known for their strong fragrance, hardiness, and resistance to disease. Unlike more modern roses, these only bloom once a year. They remain popular today though. The Queen Elizabeth rose is one of the most beloved vintage roses grown today and graces many a rose garden.

Wild Roses
These are the original species of roses that grow in the wild. These lack the cross-breeding and hybridization of modern varieties, and can be recognized by their single, five-petal blooms. Most true wild roses are pink! White or yellow wild roses are quite rare.

Modern Garden Roses
These are roses bred after 1867. Unlike the Old Garden Roses, they are not as fragrant, hardy, or disease-resistant. However, modern roses offer larger blooms and will bloom continuously throughout the season. Cross-breeding and hybridization are common and produce an abundance of colors, scents, and sizes.

There are many different types of roses within these three basic categories. Stroll through our rose house and you’ll see hybrid tea roses, grandiflora, floribunda, miniature, climbing roses, and shrub roses, just to name a few. Each can have a place in your garden. Spend some time talking with our rose experts. They can help you choose just the right rose for the right location!

Seed Starting 101

“To plant a seed is to
believe in tomorrow”

~ Audrey Hepburn

If you’re impatiently counting the days until spring arrives so you can start working on this year’s garden, there might be a way to get started on it a little sooner. Mid-February to early March is an ideal time to start your garden indoors by planting from seed. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’ll make waiting for spring’s arrival a little easier. Ready to get started? Let’s dig in!

WHAT CROPS CAN YOU START NOW?
Most annual flowers and vegetable plants should be sown indoors about six weeks before planting outside. Leaf crops like spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard as well as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes can all be started indoors in late February and early March.

Different seed types require differing numbers of days to sprout and grow to transplant size. To be certain, consult the seed packet and then count backwards to figure out the date to sow your seed. Our Frost Hardiness List will help you find the best dates to plant in your particular area.  (Some crops are fussy about having their roots disturbed by transplanting. You may want to sow seeds for root crops like radishes, carrots, and beets directly outdoors after the last frost date has passed for your area.)

START WITH CLEAN SEED STARTING CONTAINERS
Seed starting flats are a popular choice for starting seeds that will help maximize the number of plants you can grow per tray. Some come with domes that help keep the soil surface moist while germinating. If you will be using previously used containers, be sure to clean and sanitize them thoroughly before you begin. Biodegradable fiber pots and trays can be another good choice, and peat pellets are a fun alternative to use — especially with children.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT SOIL
The right soil is critical to success. You’ll want to choose a soil that’s specifically formulated for starting seeds. Seeds need just the right amount of moisture, warmth, and air to germinate, and these specialty soils are light enough to support fledgling root systems to give your plants a healthy start. Don’t use outdoor garden soil, as it’s far too dense and heavy for delicate root systems.

PLANTING TIPS
Fill your containers with the seed starting media. Then, using a spray bottle, mist to moisten the soil evenly. Sprinkle the seeds about 1/4″ apart on the soil surface and barely cover them with soil. Water with a very gentle spray. It’s important not to let the soil dry out before the seeds sprout. A plastic dome cover helps keep the soil surface moist without disturbing the seeds. (TIP: Young seedlings look pretty much the same until they begin to develop “true” leaves. Do yourself a favor and label the seed flats from the beginning. It’s also a good idea to include the date you planted the seeds.)

KEEP THINGS COZY
Seeds also need warmth to germinate. Most seeds will germinate at room temperature, but some warm-season crops like peppers prefer it warmer. A propagation heating mat underneath the seed tray will help with quicker germination, more seedlings, and greater uniformity. After the seeds have sprouted, take them off the heat mat, remove the dome cover, and put them under fluorescent grow lights to keep them from becoming spindly. You can also place your brand new seedlings in a sunny window if you have room.

POTTING UP
When your seedlings are a couple inches tall, you’ll want to thin them by removing some of them. Then gently dig the remaining seedlings out with a fork, so as not to harm the roots. Carefully transplant them into slightly larger containers, so they’ll have more room to grow. Don’t step them up to a too large container too soon though! Choose a container that’s about twice the size of the seed cells (a 3″– 4″ pot size usually works great). Always be sure any plastic containers you choose have drainage holes in the bottom. If the leaves fade to pale green or yellow, feed the seedlings with a water-soluble fertilizer when watering.

GET READY TO PLANT OUTDOORS
Your pampered indoor seedlings will need to be properly acclimated to their new outdoor life! Before transplanting outdoors, begin the process of “hardening off” your plants. On a warm spring day, move the seedling containers to a protected place (such as a porch) for just a few hours, then bring them back indoors. Each day gradually increase your fledgling plants’ exposure to the outdoor environment. After several days, transplant them to their final growing space in the garden.

Starting plants from seed can be a great way to get a jump on Colorado’s all-too-short growing season, and it can give you more choices in growing heirloom or hard-to-find varieties of veggies and flowers. More than that, it can evoke a sense of wonder to start from a dry seed and watch it grow into a big beautiful plant for your garden. Try it!

The 5 Best Shrubs for Fall Color

Nothing brings the magic of autumn to life like the brilliant reds and oranges of leaves in the landscape. It’s what everyone eagerly waits for each year. It’s easy to bring a little of that autumn magic home with the right shrub! Check out these five easy-to-grow stunners that all perform well in Colorado gardens.

BURNING BUSH
Euonymus Alatus Compacta
Zone 4 / Elevation to 7500 ft.
Mature size: 6′-8′ high & wide

The best of the best in fall color! Introduced to the United States in 1860, this striking shrub quickly became popular for its fiery scarlet foliage throughout the autumn season. It has a natural, open form that shows well in borders, beds, and foundation plantings. Stunning when used as a specimen planting, screen, or hedge. This one will create a statement wherever you plant it! It’s low maintenance and exceptionally easy to grow. Will grow best in full to part sun (at least 4-6 hrs. of full sun per day). It’s adaptable to moist or dry soil, and easily pruned for shape when needed.

VIKING CHOKEBERRY
Aronia Melanocarpa “Viking”
Zone 3 / Elevation to 8000 ft.
Mature size: 6′-7′ high / 3′-5′ wide

Glorious red-orange foliage in the autumn is accented by an abundance of glossy, black berries! This low-maintenance shrub doesn’t require a lot of attention and boasts the added benefit of being exceptionally pest and disease resistant. Berries are high in flavinoids and antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals. Good for juice, jelly, and jams. Grows best in full sun — that’s at least six hours of direct sun per day. With this shrub, you’ll have the most striking autumn color in the neighborhood, as well as the best tasting homemade preserves and desserts!

AUTUMN JAZZ VIBURNUM
Viburnum Dentatum
Zone 4 / Elevation to 7,000 ft.
Mature size: 10′ high / 8′-10′ wide

This beauty has an upright-oval habit with an impressive kaleidoscope of yellow, orange, red, and burgundy fall color. Ornamental (non-edible) blue-black berries accent the bright colors nicely. This low-maintenance deciduous shrub exhibits an excellent adaptability to a broad spectrum of soil types. Beautiful used as a border, tall hedge, or background planting.

SPREADING COTONEASTER
Cotoneaster Divaricatus
Zone 2 / Elevation to 8,500 ft.
Mature size: 4′-6′ high / 6′-8′ wide

This graceful shrub features arching branches that provide gorgeous autumn color ranging from orange to red to purple. Dark red berries dot the branches and persist into winter. Its informal shape creates a beautiful accent as a hedge, border, or foundation planting. It adapts well to most soil conditions and tolerates wind well. Grows best in full sun to part sun.

AMBER JUBILEE NINEBARK
Physocarpus Opulifollus
Zone 3 / Elevation to 8,000 ft.
Mature size: 5′-6′ high / 4′ wide

A standout variety in the garden, with dramatic foliage color throughout the year! It’s colorful foliage emerges as orange, yellow and red, progresses to green, then deepens into amazing harvest tones of reds and purples in the autumn. Multi-lobed, textured edges contribute to the dramatic look and feel of the leaves. In winter, the older stems have that classic Ninebark peeling bark for added textural interest. This is a great choice to create a focal point in your landscape or grow it as a hedge or foundation planting. Grows best in full sun for optimum leaf color.

If you’re not quite sure what would work best in your home landscape, stop by and talk to one of our nursery experts. They’ll help you plant a little autumn magic that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Deer Resistant Plant List

Use this handy list to help you choose plants that deer usually don’t find
appetizing in the landscape

Keep in mind: No plant is absolutely guaranteed to be deer proof! If deer are hungry enough, they’ll eat anything — even plants they don’t like — especially in the winter when food sources are scarce. The plants below are not usually a deer’s top choice.

Bulbs
Allium
Daffodils
Garlic
Iris
Onions

Herbs
Marjoram
Mints
Oregano
Thyme

Perennials
Astilbe
Apache Plume
Basket of Gold
Bleeding Heart
Chocolate Flower
Clematis
Coneflower
Creeping Phlox
Daylilies
Dianthus
Delphinium
Euphorbia
Flax
Foxglove
Globe Thistle
Golden Banner
Goldenrod
Honeysuckle
Lamb’s Ear
Lavender
Lenten Rose
Liatris
Lily of the Valley
Mexican Hat Coneflower
Penstemon
Peony
Poker Plant
Poppies
Prairie Zinnia
Prickly Pear
Purple Prairie Clover
Russian Sage
Salvia
Sedum
Shasta Daisy
Soapworts
Snowdrops
Snow-in-Summer
Virginia Creeper
Western White Clematis
Yarrows
Yucca

Shrubs
Alpine Currant
Austrian Copper Rose
Big Western Sage
Boulder Raspberry
Chokecherry
Common Hackberry
Common Juniper
Creeping Mahonia
Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogany
Euonymus
Fernbush
Fragrant Sumac
Golden Currant
Hancock Coralberry
Leadplant
Lilacs
Mountain Ninebark
Nanking Cherry
Oregon Grape Holly
Persian Yellow Rose
Potentilla
Pyracantha
Quince
Rabbitbrush
Red Twig Dogwood
Rose of Sharon
Santolina
Silver Buffaloberry
Snowberry
Spirea

Trees
Colorado Spruce
Concolor Fir
Douglas Fir
Gambel’s Oak
Honeylocust
Lodgepole Pine
Pinyon Pine
Rocky Mountain Maple

Make sure you’re not planting a buffet of deer favorites in your landscape! Deer show a particular preference for narrow-leafed evergreens, especially arborvitae and fir. They also love tender, green plants like hostas, daylilies, and English ivy. You might also want to employ some other strategies in addition to deer-resistant plant choices.