Colorado wildflowers. (Photo: Larry Lamsa /

Wildflowers in the mountain meadow. (Photo: NPS Photo / Walker Hall).

You’re guaranteed to have success using native wildflowers in your Colorado home landscaping. It’s much easier working with plants that have adapted to the climate and seasonal conditions. You’ll also save yourself the time, trouble and expense of trying to make plants native to other regions survive outside their comfort zone.

If you’d like to grow wildflowers from seeds, you can order online. But consider the three different types before grabbing the trowel.

Plant these in late spring. This type of plant dies back each winter and regrows the following spring from the same root system.

These flowers need a season of growth followed by a dormant period to bloom the following season because their life cycle spans two years.

Plant these after Mother’s Day (when you’re sure the last snow has fallen). This will ensure enough time for them to mature and produce viable seeds for a shot at regrowing the next year. Annuals’ roots, stems, and leaves all die off each year.

You can also buy seedlings or blooming wildflowers, such as columbines or yarrow, from local nurseries. If you hope for them to reseed and return next year, look to buy them in the spring rather than waiting until summer.

What to plant
With blooms in every color of the rainbow, a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park this spring is an ideal way to view a variety of wildflowers in their natural settings. You’ll see columbines, spotted coralroot, mountain cactus and shooting stars. Take note of how some thrive in rocky areas, others in meadows and all in differing degrees of wet or dry soils and higher or lower elevations. Remember, it’s illegal to pick or remove any flowers or plants from the park.

Poisonous plants
Keep in mind some of the prettiest wildflowers in Colorado are also the deadliest. These are important to avoid if you have small children or pets that like to chew on flowers.

These include:
• Death camas
• Larkspur
• Western water hemlock
• Lupine
• Locoweed
• African rue
• Myrtle spurge
• Red elderberry
• Container Gardens

Container plant. (Photo:

Don’t have enough room for a flower garden? Wildflowers also make lovely potted plants. Placing container plants on raised surfaces near your house may also help protect your flowers from visiting wildlife.

Need more ideas on native plants that will hold up year-round? An excellent resource is the Denver Botanic Gardens. You’ll find creeping mahonia and prickly pear cactus among the cold-weather species. Take a self-guided walking tour and explore the various gardens at your leisure, or sign up for a guided tour. The staff horticulturalists will also tell you how to care for these wildflowers and offer suggestions on planting.

Incorporating native wildflowers into your landscape design will bring a more natural look to your property. It also gives you time to enjoy your garden rather than work in it, since these plants are low maintenance and need little water to thrive. They also make lovely conversation pieces, allowing you to impress your friends and neighbors with their exotic names and admirable origin stories.

By Jill Ramone, Wikilawn Denver. Jill is a landscaper and writer for Wikilawn Denver. She specializes in designing sustainable, low-maintenance yards for busy homeowners. She prides herself on using eco-friendly products to control weeds and pests.