Colorado Native Trees and Shrubs

Native Plants

What exactly is a native plant and what does that mean for my landscape?

Some of the information found here can also be found on the CSU Extension service website located here in Colorado.

  • Colorado native plants are typically thought of as existing prior to any settlement.
  • Native plants are typically distinct to the region.
  • Native plants will aid in natural wildlife habitats.
  • If you landscape with native plants you will help promote Colorado's biodiversity for years to come.

Why Native Trees?

There are many benefits when planting native trees and shrubs. The plants are naturally adapted to the harsh Colorado climate. This means less worry about location, water, soils, and fertilizers. Your will still need to establish them before leaving them alone. The time needed to establish is typically much less.

We carry the majority of Colorado's native trees and shrubs that are best suited for the Boulder County region.

These varieties are best for transplanting and will typically be among the easiest to care for. Some native plants are difficult to grow and/or transplant. Because of this fact some plants are not always readily available.

What about non-native plants?

There are many factors when choosing plants for your Colorado landscape. Because Colorado has such a diverse elevation and topography you can find native plants in many different areas. Some varieties are very picky about their location and others can be quite forgiving. When choosing a plant your should always consider the exposure as well as the cold hardiness. Most of the time when purchasing a tree or shrubs from a reputable garden center or nursery these questions can be answered with ease.

While we sell 100's of native plants, growing native trees does not exclude the use of non-native trees and shrubs. Many times a day we are ask if all the trees we sell are natives. When we answer no, some people become shocked. Many people think non-native plants will not grow here and that is simply not the case. There are many more non-native plants that do well here than there are native plants. When purchasing trees and shrubs from CreekSide we will make it a priority to inform all our customers on the good and the bad of each plant, especially the difficult ones...sometimes at the loss of that particular sale. It is more important for us to get you the right plant for the right place than to just sell you something that will be dead because of the wrong moisture, light, and/or soil requirements.

I planted a "Native Tree" now what?

Sometimes we hear people say they want native trees and shrubs because they will be able to set and forget. That is very incorrect. A native plant must be established just like a non-native. While you might be able to skip some of the pitfalls that a non-native tree or shrub may have, there are many similarities that must be addressed.

Successful establishment requires supplemental watering...yes, in the winter...yes, even if there is snow...yes, even if your hose is frozen. If you are in the mountains you might tend to think all those trees got established without water so why would your new tree need any. Wrong. All those trees you see are approx 2-15% of what actually grew to create that forest. Those are the toughest trees and they only established themselves because they started as a seed. Your new plant is not that lucky. I 9 out of 10 cases your new plant will die if not cared for properly. In the other cases it will be stunted or damaged, taking years to repair. Not watering properly in the first season can result in many years of having to baby your tree or shrub.

Pruning is also important and can be often forgotten on native plants. If you do not prune your plants your will have damage from wind and snow. Colorado trees get blown down and damaged in snow storms all year long. Your will never be 100% safe but with proper care and pruning your trees and shrubs will outlast the majority that do not.

While you should not overlook all the non-native options for your landscape, native trees and shrubs can be a great choice and can offer many benefits.