Native Plants

Native Colorado Plants for Landscaping [with Pictures]

Colorado is one of the great states to live in if you love plants. The state has over 2,000 plant species, making it one of the most diverse states in the United States. One of the good things about residing in Colorado is the various weather conditions. This means some plants can thrive in hot and cold climates and dry and wet soils.

Colorado’s most common native plants grow in moist areas like wetlands and riverbanks. These include cottonwood, ponderosa pine, and Douglas fir. Colorado natives are plants that have evolved to thrive in the state, making them some of the most unique and interesting plants in the country. While many of these plants can be found throughout the state, some are limited to certain areas or heights.

Trees Native to Colorado For Landscaping

Colorado Blue Spruce

The Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens) is a tree that grows in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The Colorado Blue Spruce is a very tall tree, reaching heights of up to 115 feet. The Colorado Blue Spruce is a very slow-growing tree and can take up to 100 years to reach its full size. The Colorado Blue Spruce is also a very durable tree and can withstand extreme weather conditions.

Ponderosa Pine

Colorado has many trees, but the pines are perhaps the most recognizable. Ponderosa pine is one of the more common trees in Colorado, and it can be found along highways and in many nature preserves. This tree is known for its strong trunk and needles, which are thick and soft. The pines are also known for their long lives – some specimens can be over 1,000 years old!

Douglas Fir

Native to Colorado, Douglas Fir is a tall and impressive tree. With a trunk up to 34 feet in circumference and a maximum height of 119 feet, it can grow in many mountainous areas throughout the state. The bark is rough and scaly, with deep furrows running the length of the trunk. The leaves are ovate-shaped, measuring 9 inches long and 4 inches wide. Douglas Fir is a crucial tree for the environment, providing wood for building and shade during hot summers.

Narrowleaf Cottonwood

The Narrowleaf Cottonwood is a Colorado native tree found in many parts of the state. This tree is known for its narrow, fan-shaped leaves and long, drooping branches. The Narrowleaf Cottonwood is a popular tree for landscaping and can be found in many parks and gardens throughout Colorado.

Plains Cottonwood

The Plains Cottonwood is a deciduous tree found in many Colorado parks and open spaces. This tree grows up to 25 feet tall and has a trunk up to 2 feet in diameter. The leaves are ovate, and the flowers are white. The tree is native to the Great Plains region and is typically found in moist areas.

Quaking Aspen

Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) is native to Colorado. This tree is distinctive for its drooping branches and slender trunk. The leaves are usually bright green, and the bark is rough and scaly. The quaking aspen can live up to 500 years old, making it a long-lived tree.

Bristlecone Pine

The Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva, is a type of cone-bearing pine tree that grows in the high mountains region of the western United States and eastern Canada. The Bristlecone Pine is one of the oldest living things on Earth, estimated to be around 4,600 years old.

Rocky Mountain Juniper

Rocky Mountain junipers are evergreen trees native to the Rocky Mountains in North America. They grow up to 30 feet tall and can live for hundreds of years. These trees are popular for their beautiful, textured bark and berries used to make jam, wine, and other food products.

Gambel Oak

Gambel Oak is one of Colorado’s most common and impressive trees. Native to the Rocky Mountains, Gambel Oak can grow up to 120 feet tall and live for 500 years or more! This tree is known for its thick, deep-green leaves and long, graceful branches. The bark is rough and scaly, and the tree is covered in small clusters of blue flowers in late spring.

Shrubs Native to Colorado For Landscaping

Shrubs are flowering plants that grow in the understory of forests and other wooded areas. They provide habitat for various animals and help stabilize the environment. This guide provides information on the shrubs that are native to Colorado.

What are the benefits of shrubs native to Colorado?

  • Shrubs are a great way to add visual interest and texture to your landscape.
  • Shrubs are drought tolerant, so they’re perfect for areas that experience dry summers or winters.
  • Many shrubs are pollinator magnets, so adding one or two to your garden can benefit you and the local bee population.

Mountain Mahogany

Mountain mahogany (Dalbergia melanoxylon) is a shrub found in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. This shrub can grow up to six feet tall and wide, with leathery leaves and spikes of white flowers in late spring. The wood from this shrub is used for furniture, flooring, and other crafts.

Wax Currant

Wax currants (Ribes cereum) are hardy, perennial shrubs native to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. These shrubs are deciduous and have alternate, linear leaves 1-3 inches long and 0.5-1.5 inches wide. The flowers are small and white, and the fruit is a waxberry with red or purple colours. Wax currants grow in moist areas at 3,000-6,000 feet and can withstand drought and cold temperatures. They are pollinated by bees and other insects and are commercially grown for their fruit.

Three-leaf Sumac

The three-leaf sumac is a shrub native to Colorado. It grows up to 2 meters tall and has yellowish-green leaves that are oppositely arranged on the stem. The flowers are small and white, and the fruit is a purple drupe. The three-leaf sumac is an invasive plant in other parts of the United States, but it is not known to be invasive in Colorado.


Sagebrush is a shrub that is common in the Western United States. The shrub can grow up to 6 meters tall and has spiny leaves. The sagebrush produces small, white flowers in late spring.


Hoptrees are one of the most popular shrubs in Colorado. They grow well in well-drained soil but are especially adaptable to acidic soils. They can be pruned heavily in late winter or early spring to keep them compact but should never be cut back too much, as this can damage the tree’s bark.

Chokecherry (Aronia arbutifolia) is a shrub found throughout Colorado. This shrub grows up to 4 feet tall and has small, green leaves. The chokecherry flowers are small, white, and have five petals. The chokecherry fruit is an oval blackberry with a diameter of about 1 inch.


Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) is a shrub native to the Rocky Mountains of North America. It can be found in open dry areas, grasslands, and mountain slopes from 6,000 to 11,000 feet. Rabbitbrush is a small plant (less than 2 feet tall) with spiny leaves and small white flowers. The fruit is a brown capsule that contains two seeds.

Western Water Birch

The Western Water Birch is a common shrub found throughout much of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. It grows to around 4-6 feet tall with a trunk up to 2 inches in diameter. The bark is rough, black, and scaly. The leaves are ovate, 1-2 inches long, and have a pointed tip. They are green on the top and light green underneath, with a red stripe running down the centre. The flowers are white, 3-4 inches in diameter, and bloom in early summer. The fruit is an oval cotyledon which matures into a small brown nut.

Western Sand Cherry

The Western Sand Cherry is a shrub native to the Colorado Rockies. This hardy, deciduous tree grows up to 30 feet tall and has a broad crown. The smooth, grey bark is easily peeled off, revealing a light brown beneath. The Western Sand Cherry is popular for its dark green leaves, and fragrant flowers bloom in late spring. Bees and butterflies pollinate the flowers, and the fruit is a dark purple cherry.

Native Perennials of Colorado For Landscaping

If you love the outdoors and want to take your gardening skills to the next level, you should check out the native perennials of Colorado. Not only are these plants hardy, but they also offer great color and texture in your garden.

What Kind of Environment Works Best for Colorado Native Perennials?

To grow native perennials successfully in Colorado, you will need to understand the natural environment in which they grow best. The most common ecosystems in Colorado are dry forests, sagebrush steppe, and montane forests. Each ecosystem is unique and has environmental requirements that must be met for native perennials to thrive.

Dry forests are found throughout much of the western United States and are characterized by dense stands of trees with little understory. These forests are well-drained and provide good moisture and nutrient availability for plants. To grow native perennials in a dry forest, you must adjust your gardening methods to account for this climate. You will need to water less frequently and fertilize sparingly.

Sagebrush steppe is a grassland ecosystem that covers much of the eastern United States. It is hot, dry, and sparsely vegetated. This is the perfect environment for sagebrush colonies, which thrive on low nutrients and high sunlight levels. To grow natives in sagebrush steppe, you will need to create an artificial environment that mimics the conditions found in nature. You can do this by growing.


Salvia is a genus of about 60-70 species of flowering plants in the mint family. Native to North America and Eurasia, many Salvia species are popular garden plants. They are used as ornamental plants for their attractive blue, purple, or white flowers. Some common names for Salvia include sage, New Mexican sage, wild sage, and seep sage.


If you love the smell of fresh flowers, you’re in luck in Colorado! The state is home to wide varieties of lavender, including some that are rare and hard to find elsewhere. Here are five of the best lavender plants for Colorado gardens:


Poppy is a hardy perennial that grows in many parts of the United States. It’s an excellent choice for a summer border or naturalized garden, and it can be used as a groundcover, cut flower, or dried herb. Poppy has small, bright blue flowers on long stems followed by clusters of small dark seeds. Poppy can be propagated from cuttings taken in early spring or by dividing the rootball in late winter.


Colorado boasts a diversity of sedums, including many endemic species. These plants can add beauty and intrigue to any garden, regardless of location. Here are five of the most common and interesting sedums found in Colorado.

Sand Dune Gaillardia

The Sand Dune Gaillardia is a perennial flower that grows in sandy soils in the Colorado Rockies. This flower is an annual plant in other areas of the United States. The Sand Dune Gaillardia has bright yellow flowers with a purple centre and long petals. Bees and birds pollinate the flowers, which are said to have a sweet fragrance. The Sand Dune Gaillardia is a member of the daisy family and can grow up to 3 feet tall.

Russian Sage

Russian Sage (Artemisia vulgaris) is a perennial that grows in Colorado. It is an erect, matted herb with aromatic leaves and purple flowers. The plant is native to Eurasia but has been introduced to many other parts of the world. Russian Sage is commonly used as an herb, in teas, and for flavoring food.


Lupine (Lupinus) is a genus of about seventy-five species of annual or perennial legumes in the lupine family, including blue and white lupine. Lupines are very versatile plants that can be used in many different ways. They can be grown as garden flowers, ground covers, or small trees or shrubs. Most lupines are hardy to zones 4 through 9, but some varieties (such as the various types of lupines grown for their edible seeds) can be cold-hardy to zone 3 or even zone 2.


Many different types of geraniums can be found in Colorado. The most common varieties include the Indian blanket, bloody Benjamin, and showy sweet William. These varieties are all annuals that should be planted in early spring and summer before they go to seed. Once they have finished flowering, they will die back and can be dug up and discarded.


Echinacea can be found growing wild in many parts of North America. In Colorado, it is especially common in the foothills and mountains. Start your echinacea planting early to mid-spring for the best results when the soil is warm but not too hot. Echinacea prefers full sun but will tolerate a little shade. Keep your echinacea well-watered, especially during dry spells, and fertilize only if necessary.

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Coral bells are a common native perennial in Colorado. These plants can grow in moist areas, such as along the banks of creeks and rivers. Coral bells are easy to grow and will reward you with beautiful flowers year-round. The flowers of coral bells are usually purple or red, and they produce small seed capsules that can be used to add colour to your garden. These plants can tolerate partial shade, so they make a great choice for gardeners who live in areas with a lot of shade.


Larkspur is a popular Colorado native plant found throughout the state. This perennial plant has beautiful purple, pink, or white flowers bloom from June to September. The blooms are often used in floral arrangements and make a wonderful addition to any garden. Larkspur is tolerant of most soil types and can easily propagate from seed.


Some of the best-known native perennials in Colorado are honeysuckle. This hardy shrub can grow throughout the state but is especially common in the foothills and mountains. Honeysuckle can be a beautiful addition to any garden and is popular for its attractive flowers and fruit.


Whether you are looking for a stunning landscape feature or want to add some greenery to your home, consider planting a Colorado native tree. These trees grow well in the state’s dry climate and are known for their tough wood and long life span. There are many different types of Colorado natives to choose from, so be sure to find one that will fit into your environment and needs. If you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration to add some life and color to your garden, look at the Colorado native plants thriving in our state. From wildflowers to trees, these plants will add an element of nature to your yard that can’t be beaten. So get out there and start planting.

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