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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - March 05, 2013

From: Castle Rock, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Lists
Title: Native Plants for Colorado
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Please advise me where I can find a list of native plants for the Castle Rock, Colorado area. This is for a home garden landscaping initiative.

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants for your home garden landscape is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: Colorado, All habits (or just search for trees, shrubs, etc.), and Duration – Annual, Biennial or Perennial. You can narrow down this search further by indicating light requirement, blooming time, soil moisture, and height specifics. The full list of Colorado natives totals 1,847 plant species so you will need to narrow your search.

Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list. Think about including plants that have interest during a variety of seasons and that have more than one attractive feature (flower, fruit, foliage, bark, etc.) so you can get more benefits out of fewer plants.

To further narrow your list of potential plants, you will have to consider plant hardiness. Castle Rock, south of Denver is in USDA Plant hardiness zone 5b (-15 to -10 F).   Just enter your zip code on the webpage and your hardiness zone will be identified. You can also get a more detailed hardiness map of Colorado by clicking on your state.

Think of your space as three layers – the upper tree canopy, the middle shrub or small tree section and the lower section that has groundcovers, perennials and biennials. Your plan can include native plants for all three of these layers. You can also have several different plants in the middle and lower layers that have attractive flowering, foliage or fruiting features during different times of the year.

 

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Bibliography

Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope (2001) Weber, W.A.; R. C. Wittmann

Rare Plants of Colorado (1997) Colorado Native Plant Society

Rocky Mountain Flora: A Colorado Mountain Club Field Guide (2006) Ells, J.

Trees and Shrubs of Colorado (1995) Carter, J.L.

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