Colorado Gardening – Pros & Cons
Colorado has earned the nickname of “Colorful Colorado” due to its splendid scenery of mountains, rivers, plains, wildlife and lavish landscaping. Don’t underestimate the significance of its beauty because gardening in Colorado can tend to be problematic and present many challenges. Low humidity, fluctuating temperatures, heavy calcareous soils and drying winds all have a detrimental effect on how adequate your plant life flourishes in this state.
Spring is so inspiring, we cannot wait to see our plantings reach full bloom and our yard light up with the vibrant colorful brilliance that a good landscape brings. Despite the desire to start planting now, don’t! You will need to wait until the possibility of frost damage is lifted. Mid-May is the ideal time to start your planting.
Moving to Colorado from places that have high humidity and healthier soils can create horticulture obstacles for most new growers. The “newcomers” dilemma is getting plants to thrive or even survive in this climate. There are a combination of factors that stimulate poor growth in Colorado in relation to other states in the mid-western region. Namely, soil properties with salt accumulation and high levels of iron in conjunction with untimely snow storms all have dramatic ramifications on the growth and wellness of your plantings.
In Colorado we also tend to have heavy clay type soils. These soils have poor aeration which prevents productive root growth. This leads to enabling the plants to replenish water loss brought through low humidity and prevailing winds. Increasing your water cycles to fix the problem will cause a counteractive outcome that elevates root nutrient deprivation. Over watering causes root starvation due to reduction of air quantities thus causing an oxygen deficiency. Little can be done to improve the climate so the only solution is to amend the soils.
We tend to have high levels of iron in our soil, hence the word “color rojo” which refers to the dominate red soils in our state. In addition, we have iron chlorosis which is the yellowing of plants caused by iron deficiency usually found in high pH soils. The soil’s high level of calcium ties up the iron in a form unavailable to the plant. Adding additional anatomies of iron substrates is a temporary fix but the soil will quickly default to retaining its well needed iron. The ultimate solution is to choose plants that can tolerant Colorado alkaline soils. Once again, amend the soils.
On the Sunny Side
Colorado’s high elevation contributes to bounteous sun rays producing dynamic planting with exquisite beauty. Having a low humidity helps discourage landscape plant diseases that are generally associated with humid areas.
Rule of thumb – remember all plantings are not fit for all locations? It is imperative that you select not only what is suitable for your climate but also what can be grown adequately for your jurisdictional watering allowances.
Never fertilize in the fall or mid-March. This can be best done in early April with a high nitrogen level fertilizer that will promote spring growth.
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