Vail Daily column: Resources for high altitude gardeners |

Vail Daily column: Resources for high altitude gardeners

Becky Garber
Special to the Daily
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

No matter where you live in Colorado, growing plants successfully will always be a challenge. But gardening at high altitudes ups the difficulty factor exponentially. Mountain areas have shorter seasons, more inclement and extremes of weather and fewer plant choices. And just like in the flatlands, water here is also a factor.

Thankfully, we have reliable resources available from Colorado State University’s Plant Select program and our state’s own green industry collaboration, Green Industries of Colorado (GreenCO). They provide us with plant options and relevant information that can ease the growing pains of gardening at altitude.

The Plant Select program ( has an online database where visitors can search on a variety of factors ranging from plant hardiness zone to desirable qualities such as “attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbird” to “deer resistant.”

Here’s one example that might work in many mountain yards: Orange Carpet Hummingbird Trumpet which is especially cold hardy at high altitudes. It is a low-growing perennial blooming toward the end of summer into autumn. It grows in plant hardiness zones 3 through 8 (up to 9,000 feet.), prefers moderate to dry soil and best of all for many gardeners who contend with wildlife, it’s unpalatable to deer.

Another deer resistant Plant Select is Kannah Creek Buckwheat. It grows 10 to 15 inches high and has yellow flowers that bloom May to July. It needs moderate water and can grow at 10,000 feet. It tolerates full sun and is a good choice for rock gardens.

If you need help with low-water landscape concepts or how to make a sprinkler system water efficient, GreenCO has new videos and fact sheets that can help you make water-wise choices for a successful and healthy Colorado landscape.

To access an array of information, go to the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado’s home page ( and click on the “save water” button. See videos, find fact sheets and more.

Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.

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