Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in America, and it comes with variable climate and soil conditions. As a result, choosing plants and shrubs that can tolerate everything from snow to drought conditions can be challenging but not impossible.
From traditional landscaping to xeriscaping, these are the ten best shrubs for Colorado. Plus, we included some helpful growing and maintenance tips.
It might be easy to overlook the saltbush because it’s relatively unassuming for most of the year. However, it gives you unique blooms every fall and makes a hardy addition to any xeriscaped lawn.
These shrubs can handle excessive rain and drought conditions, making them ideal for Colorado’s variable weather. Prune them once or twice per year to keep them under control and encourage the blooms, yellow for males and white for females.
The spirea family contributes several lovely, hardy shrubs to the world, though some fare better in Colorado than others. Rock spirea is native to the western United States and holds up well in rocky terrain, making it a solid choice for xeriscaped lawns. However, if you prefer more color and a traditional bloom, the Blue Mist spirea may be a better choice.
You don’t have to do much for these bushes other than prune them to your desired size. They can grow quite large, up to eight feet tall and six feet wide for some varieties. Keep them watered when you first plant them, but spirea tend to handle drought-like conditions well.
Butterfly bushes are not native to the United States, so some regions consider them invasive. It’s because they grow fast and spread if not kept in check, though you can find plenty of this beautiful shrub along Colorado’s front range. The primarily blue and purple flowers attract butterflies and birds.
Though they don’t require significant upkeep, it’s necessary to cut back butterfly bushes to the ground every spring to trigger new growth. Also, expect to water these shrubs during dry periods because they don’t do well on less than an inch of water per week.
Unlike some of the other shrubs on this list, barberry doesn’t provide showstopping blooms. The small yellow flowers pale compared to the green, yellow, or red foliage that marks this species. It’s hardy in most areas because barberry withstands drought and doesn’t succumb to deer feasting on its leaves.
Given the limited care required for these bushes, barberry is considered invasive in other parts of the country, but not in Colorado.
Despite its east-coast name, the Manhattan Euonymus holds up well in Colorado. It’s an evergreen that sprouts small flowers during the summer that yield attractive pink fruit by fall. It’s an excellent addition to any garden or works well as a potted shrub on a porch.
This shrub grows quickly in full sun to contribute attractive green foliage to any landscape. Water it regularly, especially during a drought, and prune it as needed to maintain the desired appearance.
If you chose a Manhattan Euonymus, you might want to complement it with a Weigela variety. The Wine and Roses Weigela fare exceptionally well in parts of Colorado that see regular moisture. The purple-burgundy leaves look pleasant on their own but truly pop when summer hits and the bright pink flowers emerge.
Prune the bushes before winter, but only shape them because the next year’s blooms come from the older wood. Also, it likes moisture, making it an excellent choice for covering lawn sprinklers.
Dwarf Mugo Pine
While it sounds like a tree, the dwarf mugo pine is an evergreen shrub. It can grow up to five feet in either direction, but you can keep it smaller as desired by pruning regularly. This shrub prefers well-drained soil and does better if you mulch around the base for added protection.
Dwarf mugo pines are extremely hardy, moderately drought-tolerant, and survive both the heat and cold. Add a little compost in the spring to improve their appearance, especially if you grow it in a pot.
Ninebark is a perennial shrub that typically grows between three and ten feet tall and almost as wide. It produces white or pink blooms in clusters over yellow to green leaves. You can plant it in the ground or grow it in a large pot.
This shrub does well with spireas and can handle almost anything nature throws its way. Plant in full sun to partial shade, prune only as desired, and water rarely. As a result, Ninebark is surprisingly drought-tolerant and can even handle some flooding if it occurs.
A smoke bush is a large shrub that makes an excellent privacy hedge, but you can keep it smaller by growing it in a pot. The shrub can reach up to twenty feet tall if left unchecked. It produces “smoky” pink or yellowish flowers during the summer and remains stunning fall foliage.
Smoke bushes do well in part to full sun but hold up well in drought conditions. They are deer resistant and come in several varieties.
St. John’s Wort
If you desire a shrub that contributes something to your landscape all year, you may want to consider St. John’s Wort. It’s relatively small, making it an excellent choice for borders or pots. You get dense, green leaves from spring through fall punctuated by yellow blooms in summer and red berries in fall.
This shrub doesn’t like soggy soil, but it may require watering during drought conditions. It requires some pruning to keep the shape and encourage new growth, but only once per year.
Tip: try applying a rich layer of compost every spring to support the shrub.
Finding the right shrubs to complete your landscaping design should be a little easier now. Many of these bushes should handle Colorado’s varied climate well enough, though some may need a little extra care to thrive. These shrubs are apt to round out any Colorado lawn in style, from gorgeous foliage to stunning blooms.