Wildflowers in Colorado - 7.233 (2023)

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by J.E. Klett, R.A. Cox, I. Shonle and L.G. Vickerman* (12/20)

Quick Facts…

  • Wildflower plantings have a different appearance throughout the growing season.
  • Commercial seed mixes are developed to show variation in height, bloom color and time.
  • Choose a wildflower seed mix adapted to your site conditions.
  • The best site for wildflowers has well-drained and aerated soil.
  • Control weeds prior to seeding wildflowers.
  • Mid to late fall is a good time to sow seeds.
  • Water as needed for germination and maintenance.
  • The term “wildflower” does not necessarily mean a native flower..

Wildflowers in Colorado - 7.233 (1)

Wildflowers are ideal for a natural, less formal garden. A planting of wildflowers provides a changing palette of color. The word “wildflower” does not necessarily mean that a plant is native to our area. Rather, it refers to an overall look or feel of an informal planting. Many plants in wildflower seed mixes are not native to Colorado, although native mixes are available.

A wildflower planting provides change throughout the growing season as different plants in the mix come into bloom. Due to varying characteristics of plants in a wildflower mix, the appearance of the planting may differ from year to year in response to weather conditions.

Because some wildflowers can be aggressive, the diversity of a wildflower planting may be lost over time. Their aggressiveness can be compounded by site conditions. Some invasive species are now classified as Noxious Weeds by the State of Colorado. See Table 4.

The type of wildflower seed mix chosen depends on site conditions and the desired effect. Consider modeling wildflower plantings after surrounding native-plant communities or use wildflowers to provide bold splashes of color. Commercial seed mixes may be formulated using a variety of plants with different heights, colors and bloom times.

Usually, a mix of self-seeding annuals, biennials and perennials will provide the quickest results and longest bloom season. Wildflower mixes also may contain some grass species, which can fill in spaces around flowers, add texture and color contrast, and provide support and protection to wildflowers. Grasses also can reduce soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitat. See Table 2.

Seed companies often formulate their mixes for different site conditions. Choose a mix suitable for specific site conditions, such as dry, hot, south exposures; cooler, shaded, north and east exposures; moist meadows; or higher elevations. Most wildflowers grow best on well-drained, well-aerated soils.

Site Preparation and Weed Control

On sites with poor or compacted soil or extensive weed populations, considerable soil preparation and weed control are necessary before planting. Before sowing seed, lightly cultivate or break the soil with a rake prior to sowing. If the soil is compacted or heavy clay, incorporate organic matter, such as compost or sphagnum peat moss, into the top 6 inches. Three cubic yards of organic matter per 1,000 square feet, or about enough to cover soil 1 inch deep, generally is sufficient.

Wildflowers in Colorado - 7.233 (2)

Tilling the soil will increase weed seed germination, as new seeds are brought to the surface.

Eliminating weeds prior to planting wildflowers is easier and less expensive than identifying and controlling them in newly seeded sites.

After incorporating organic matter, water the area to germinate any existing weed seeds. Pull, hoe, or spray these weed seedlings with an appropriate herbicide. As with any pesticide, read and follow label directions. Remove dead weed debris prior to planting wildflowers. The number of times needed to repeat this water/spray process depends on the degree of weed infestation and types of weeds prevalent. It may take up to a year to control weeds before planting wildflowers.

Consider terracing steep slopes or use jute mats on the soil surface to help establish wildflowers.


Mid to late fall is a good time to sow wildflower seed because subsequent winter cold and snow (moisture) will promote seed germination the following spring. If sowing in spring or summer, check with the seed company if they have pre-treated (stratified)the perennial seeds.

Water in the spring to germinate seeds if winter moisture is insufficient. For spring or summer seeding, water to germinate seeds if rains are insufficient. Seedlings emerging in late summer may not become well established and may be killed by fall frosts.

Follow recommended seeding rate on seed packet. Exceeding recommended seeding rates may result in poor stands. For an even distribution of wildflower seed, mix six parts dry sand with one part seed.

For small areas, spread the mix by hand, lightly rake the seed in and tamp the soil with your feet to ensure good seed contact with soil. On larger areas, use a cyclone-type fertilizer/seed spreader followed by pulling a section of chain-link fence behind a tractor. To ensure good soil contact, use a sod roller to press in the seeds. Another option for large areas is to have it hydro-seeded.


After wildflowers are established, pull or spot spray weeds as soon as they can be identified and before they set seed. During extended dry spells, supplemental water helps wildflowers look their best. If initial soil preparation was done, little if any fertilizer is required. If fertilizer is necessary, use a mild, balanced fertilizer. After plants brown from killing frost, mow wildflower areas to distribute seeds set by plants.

Cut stalks to 4 to 6 inches and leave clippings on the ground. Another option is to leave them in place all winter, and trim back in the spring. In the second and succeeding years, the appearance of the wildflower planting may differ due to bloom of biennial and perennial species. Additional seeding can be beneficial if the wildflower stand is not satisfactory or plant growth was spotty or poor.

Table 1: Native wildflowers most commonly available in seed mixes.
TypeaFlower ColorExposurebMoisturecSeason of Bloomd
Achillea millefolium* spp.
Yarrow (white)
Artemisia spp.
PGray foliageSD
Aquilegia spp.
PYellow, red, blueS/PSMSP/SU
Cleome serrulata
Rocky Mtn. Bee Plant
Coreopsis tinctoria
Coreopsis (plains)e
Epilobium angustifolium (Chamerion)
Eriogonum umbellatum
Sulfur flower
Erigeron speciosus
Showy daisy, fleabane
Erysimum spp.
P/BYellow, orangeS/PSD-MSP/SU
Eustoma grandiflorum
Prairie gentian
Gaillardia aristata
Gaillardia (perennial),
blanket flower
Ipomopsis aggregata
Scarlet gilia
Liatris punctata
Spotted (dwarf) gayfeather
Linum lewisii
Flax (blue)
Machaeranthera spp.
Tansy Aster
Monarda fistulosa
Pink bergamot, beebalm
Oenothera caespitosa
White evening primrose
Penstemon spp.
Penstemon, beard tongue
Penstemon strictus
Penstemon (Rocky Mountain)
Pulsatilla patens
Pasque flower
Ratibida columnifera
Mexican hat,
prairie coneflower
Rudbeckia hirta
Black-eyed Susane
Thermopsis montana
Golden banner, false lupine
Viguiera multiflora
Showy goldeneye
PYellowS/PSD or MSU/F
a Type: A = Annual, B = Biennial, P = Perennial, TP = Tender Perennial
b Exposure: S = sun, PS = partial shade, SH = shade
c Soil moisture preference: D = dry, M = moist (needs supplementalirrigation)
d Season of bloom: SP = spring, SU = summer, F = fall
e Very aggressive, may eventually dominate planting
* Horticultural varieties of yarrow are selections of A. millefolium or hybrids of several different
Achillea species.
Table 2: Native grasses suitable for wildflower plantings.
Plant NameExposureaMoisturebSeason of Bloomc
Oryzopsis hymenoides
Indian rice grass
Bouteloua gracilis
Blue grama, eyelash grass
Festuca arizonica
Arizona fescue
Koeleria macrantha
June grass
Schizachyrium scoparium (Andropogon scoparius)
Little bluestem
aExposure: S = sun, PS = partial shade, SH = shade
bSoil moisture preference: D = dry, M = moist (needs supplemental irrigation)
cSeason of bloom: SP = spring, SU = summer, F = fall
Table 3: Non-native wildflowers most commonly available in seed mixes.
Plant NameTypeaFlower ColorExposurebMoisturecSeason of Bloomd
Aster novae-angliae
Aster (New England)
Achillea millefolium
Yarrow (white)
Campanula carpatica
Carpathian harebell
Centaurea cyanus
Clarkia unguiculata
APink, lavenderSD-MSP/SU
Consolida ambigua
(Delphinium consolida)

AWhite, pink, violet, blueS/PSMSU
Coreopsis lanceolata
Coreopsis (lanceleaf)e
Cosmos bipinnatus
APink, red, whiteS/PSDSU/F
Dianthus barbatus
Sweet William
B/PPink, red, whiteS/PSD-MSU
Dimorphotheca aurantiaca
African daisy
AWhite, orangeSDSU/F
Echinacea angustifolia
Narrowleaf Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea
Purple coneflower
Eschscholzia californica
California poppye
Gaillardia pulchella
Gypsophila elegans
Showy baby’s breathe
Iberis umbellata
APink, whiteS/PSD-MSU
Leucanthemum x superbum (Chrysanthemum x superbum)
Shasta daisy
Linaria maroccana
Snapdragon (spurred)
APink, yellow, violetS/PSDSP/SU
Linum grandiflorum rubrum
Flax (scarlet)
Linum perenne
European blue flaxe
Lobularia maritima
Sweet alyssume
TPWhite, lavenderS/PSD-MSP/SU
Lupinus spp.
A/PBlue, pink, redS/PSD-MSP/SU
Myosotis sylvatica
Oenothera missouriensis
Ozark sundrop
Papaver rhoeas
Poppy (corn), Shirley poppy
AWhite, pink, redS/PSDSU
Phacelia campanularia
California bluebell
Silene armeria
Solidago rigida
Viola spp.
Johnny jump-up
aType: A = Annual, B = Biennial, P = Perennial, TP = Tender Perennial
bExposure: S = sun, PS = partial shade, SH = shade
cSoil moisture preference: D = dry, M = moist (needs supplemental irrigation)
dSeason of bloom: SP = spring, SU = summer, F = fall
eVery aggressive, may eventually dominate planting
fToxic to grazing livestock
Table 4: Avoid seed mixes containing these noxious weeds.
Plant NameTypeaFlower ColorSeason of Bloomb
Cichorium intybus
Hesperis matronalis
Dames’ rocket
Leucanthemum vulgare(Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)
Oxeye daisy
Linaria vulgaris
Yellow toadflax
aType: A = Annual, B = Biennial, P = Perennial, TP = Tender Perennial
b Season of bloom: SP = spring, SU = summer, F = fall

*J.E. Klett, Colorado State University Extension horticulture specialist and professor, department of horticulture and landscape architecture; R.A. Cox, Extension horticulture agent, Arapahoe County; I. Shonle, director, Extension, Gilpin County; and L.G. Vickerman, former Extension horticulture agent, El Paso County, contributed to earlier versions of this fact sheet. 5/96. Revised 12/20.

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Where are wildflowers blooming now in Colorado? ›

Gunnison Area (late June-July)

If you would like to see the wildflower capital of Colorado, stop by Crested Butte. July is the best time to witness all kinds of blooms there: lupines, columbines, and more. Trail names can give you an idea of what to expect: Daisy Pass, Lupine Trail, Columbine Trail.

What month is best for wildflowers? ›

Depending on how mild and wet the season is, some wildflowers, such as Red Campion, can flower as early as April and last into November. However, most wildflowers, whether annual, biennial or perennial will start to bloom in May or June and last 3-4 months.

What are the yellow flowers along Colorado highways? ›

Golden banner blooms from late May to mid-July with bright yellow pea like flowers. Each flower has five petals - a banner, two wings and two keel petals.

Can you just scatter wildflowers? ›

Scatter wildflower seeds thinly over bare patches of watered soil or in rows in a seedbed to transplant later as small clumps. Barely cover seeds when sown in rows. Or, sow tiny pinches of seed directly into small modules of seed compost and plant as 'plugs'.

Will there be a Superbloom in 2022? ›

A wildflower super bloom is unlikely for 2022, but California deserts will still see some flowers. On a rare "super bloom" year in California, Edom Hill near Palm Springs typically turns green with vegetation, signaling the impending crush of wildflowers across the state's deserts.

What is the best time to see wildflowers in Colorado? ›

On Colorado's eastern plains, wildflowers begin to spread their petals in April and May. But in the Rocky Mountains in western Colorado, where snow often doesn't melt completely until mid-June or later, wildflowers usually don't pop up until July and August.

Can I spread wildflower seeds in March? ›

In areas like this, wildflower planting should be done in the late winter or very early spring, in February or March. Other regions with milder springs and summers can plant in April. With some supplemental water until the seeds start to sprout, wildflowers thrive in the Western region.

Can I scatter wildflower seeds in February? ›

Wildflower seed mixtures are best sown from late March to late October, but for those eager to begin their wildflower meadows a late February sowing in mild weather will not cause any issues.

Do wildflower come back every year? ›

Yes, both native annual and perennial species will return year after year once they become established and are allowed to reseed.

What are those flowers on the side of the road? ›

Daylilies (Hemerocallis) also are tall plants seen growing beside roads. They are perennials, returning year after year. Growing best in USDA zones 3 through 10, daylilies reach 3 feet high and have lilylike flowers held on long stems above straplike leaves.

What are little yellow wild flowers called? ›

Commonly known as sourgrass or Bermuda buttercup, it flowers from November to April, and in the last few months oxalis has come out in full force in the Bay Area, encouraged by December and February rains.

What is the wildflower capital of Colorado? ›

Spring and summer visitors heading to C.B., as its residents call it, will find a spectacular display of blooming flowers — a natural phenomenon that has gained Crested Butte the nickname "the wildflower capital of Colorado."

Will wildflower seeds grow if you just throw them on the ground? ›

The answer is a resounding NO. Unfortunately, making a meadow is a bit more complicated than tossing a few wildflower seeds on top of your grass. To be successful each seed needs to come in full contact with the bare soil.

Should you rake in wildflower seeds? ›

Mixing the wildflower seed with moist vermiculite keeps the seed uniformly well-mixed and easy to spread evenly. Raking lightly after broadcasting helps work the seeds into the soil. After rolling, cover with a light mulch of clean straw.

Can I sprinkle wildflower seeds on top of grass? ›

We recommend planting wildflower islands in the space while seeding the larger area to grass. This approach allows you to give extra care and hand weed the area with the wildflowers while being able to mow the grass area before the annual weeds can set seed.

What date is bloom 2022? ›

Bloom 2022 takes place between Thursday the 2nd June and the Monday the 6th June.

Are the poppies in bloom 2022? ›

The poppies are at their best in the spring, sometime between mid-March and April. Mount Diablo State Park is usually the best place to see poppy fields in Northern California. Most notably, you'll find poppy fields near Rock City, the Mitchell Canyon-Eagle Loop, and the road past the South Gate Entrance.

What is the rarest flower in the world 2022? ›

The Rafflesia banaoana is the rarest and most elusive species of the genus named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore. The flowers are found only in the deep rainforests of Luzon island in the Philippines.

What is the wildflower capital of the United States? ›

Antelope Valley, California

It's the largest and most dependable bloom of the species—California's official flower—in the state. While the color and intensity of bloom changes each year, flowers are usually at their height mid-April, though they can be seen as early as mid-February and as late as the end of May.

What month does the Mayflower bloom? ›

From March to July, Mayflowers produce numerous clusters of delicate blossoms. The tiny flowers range from pink to white in color and 1/3- to 3/4 inches wide in size.

Should I soak wildflower seeds before planting? ›

If you're just getting started, and even if you've been growing from seeds for a while, it's a good idea to soak seeds before planting. This can have a dramatic effect on your germination rate and overall success with gardening! Soaking seeds supplies your plants a jump start right at the beginning of their lives.

What happens if you plant wildflower seeds too close together? ›

Wildflowers need good seed-to-soil contact, adequate access to nutrients, sunlight, water, as well as ample room for roots to grow. Unfortunately, when wildflower seeds are crowded the flowers will not grow, but the existing grass or weed seeds will still thrive.

What is the best wildflower seeds to buy? ›

  • 1 Mountain Valley Seed Company Wildflower Seeds.
  • 2 Sweet Yards Wildflower Seeds.
  • 3 Seed Needs Bird and Butterfly Wildflower Mixture.
  • 4 HOME GROWN Wildflower Seeds.
  • 5 Beauty Beyond Belief Monarch Butterfly Rescue.
  • 6 NatureZ Edge Wildflower Seeds.
  • 7 Eden Brothers All Perennial Wildflower Seed Mix.
7 Oct 2022

Do you deadhead wildflowers? ›

The reason deadheading works is that it tricks the plant into continuing to flower in an effort to complete its reproductive cycle. I've successfully kept native wildflowers such as Clarkia and Tidy Tips blooming for months by deadheading.

Do you cut wildflowers back? ›

Wildflowers can be cut back at the end of their season in September / October, after they have finished flowering. Cut down to about 15cm, don't forget to collect seeds before, if you wish. Annuals will have finished their life-cycle but perennials will look much better in their second year.

Are wildflowers low maintenance? ›

Whether you're new to gardening or are looking for something to plant and forget about, wildflowers are one of my favorite go-tos. Although most wildflowers are fairly low maintenance, there are several varieties that require no green thumb at all and are hardy in most areas around the country.

Do you cut wildflowers back for winter? ›

ANSWER: If the flowers have already gone to seed or still have dried seeds on them, it is perfectly safe to cut them back to the ground. After you cut off the tops, shake out remaining attached seeds into areas you'd like them to come up in next year.

Will wildflowers choke out weeds? ›

Wildflowers generally don't choke out anything, except themselves when they are planted too heavily. If the "weeds" in question are grasses, then the answer is quite simple. Grass will always win the battle, as it is much more aggressive.

Do wildflowers need a lot of water? ›

Light and frequent applications of water should be applied to keep the ground moist. Once your wildflowers begin to germinate do not allow the site to completely dry out but avoid over-watering the area. If the soil becomes overly saturated, the seedlings could die from the lack of oxygen supplied to the root system.

Which flower is called poor man's weather glass? ›

Lysimachia arvensis), commonly known as the scarlet pimpernel, red pimpernel, red chickweed, poor man's barometer, poor man's weather-glass, shepherd's weather glass or shepherd's clock, is a species of low-growing annual plant with brightly coloured flowers, most often scarlet but also bright blue and sometimes pink.

What are the purple flowers along the highway called? ›

Those of us who have been commuting all year have already been admiring the beautiful purple, white and lavender coloured flowers along the highway. Sad to report that these flowers, commonly known as Dame's Rocket, are also invasive!

What is the Gypsy flower? ›

Gypsy has masses of finely textured flowers on airy, rich flowering plants. Gypsy Compact White is a real eye catcher, with wellmounded plants and fresh white blooms on dark green foliage.
Additional information.
Product nameCompact White, Deep Rose Pink White
9 more rows

What is a yellow wildflowers that bloom in spring? ›

Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), also called cowslip, is a low-growing perennial with yellow flowers that bloom above dark-green, rounded leaves in spring. As the name suggests, these are common along streams and in swamps, and they work well in moist areas of the landscape.

What is the most popular wildflower? ›

  • Achillea millefolium.
  • Geranium carolinianum.
  • Rudbeckia hirta.
  • Helianthus annuus.
16 Jan 2008

What is the prettiest mountain town in Colorado? ›

The prettiest mountain town in Colorado is Telluride. Downtown's colorful, Victorian architecture and natural sites like Bridal Veil Falls are stunning. Take in the San Juan Mountains' beauty on Telluride's scenic gondola or while climbing the via ferrata.

Where is the wildflower capital of the world? ›

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — Crested Butte is known for many things — hiking, rock climbing, kayaking and fishing, to name a few. But one of the thing the mountain town is best known for are its stunning displays of summer wildflowers.

What is the most popular flower in Colorado? ›

1. Colorado Columbine: The columbine is one of the most popular flowers in Colorado. The state flower has a variety of complex hues and symbolizes wild beauty.

What is the best time to plant wildflower seeds? ›

Wildflowers can be planted in the fall or early spring throughout all regions of the U.S. In the northern and northeastern geographic regions of the United States, USDA Zones 1 through 6, where extremely harsh winters are experienced, an early spring planting is recommended.

Should you mulch over wildflower seeds? ›

Mulches - Mulching is a great aid in the establishment of wildflowers. A mulch helps maintain moisture, minimize seed erosion and will help to stabilize slopes. Two ideal mulch materials are weed-free straw or pine needles. Pine needles are preferable in windy areas.

Do wildflower seeds need to be covered with soil? ›

The seeds need to have some soil to nestle into, so break the ground up a little. Before you sow, mix the seeds half and half with clean, dry sand so that they're easy to scatter. Perlite also works, and it's white, so it allows you to see the seeded areas better.

When should I plant wildflower seeds in Colorado? ›

Mid to late fall is a good time to sow wildflower seed because subsequent winter cold and snow (moisture) will promote seed germination the following spring. If sowing in spring or summer, check with the seed company if they have pre-treated (stratified)the perennial seeds.

How deep does the soil need to be to wildflower seeds? ›

Or lightly rake the soil, careful not to bury the seeds too deep, the seeds should be covered to a depth no deeper than 1mm. Water the seeds lightly making sure not to wash the seeds away, continue to water during dry weather.

Do wildflowers enrich soil? ›

They Hold Nutrients in the Soil

The roots of wildflowers help to stabilize the soil and hold on to nutrients that might otherwise be washed away in the rain. Their presence can improve soil health, prevent erosion, and improve water quality.

Do wildflowers need topsoil? ›

Wildflowers prefer poor soil with low nutrients and if practical, remove any good quality topsoil. Prepare the soil to a fine tilth once the weeds have been removed, ready for sowing your wildflowers.

Are wildflowers blooming at Table Mountain yet? ›

March and April are the best times to visit Table Mountain, because that's when the wildflowers are blooming.

Where exactly is this place full of flowers in mountains located? ›

The Valley of Flowers lies in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is situated at an elevation of 3,658 metres above sea level in the upper expanses of Bhyundar Ganga, near Joshimath.

Is the mountain laurel blooming yet? ›

Mountain laurel blooms in late spring, and its flowers remain through early and midsummer. The cup-shaped flowers that take on shades of rose, pink and white with darker, purple spots and markings inside the petals are among mountain laurel's many features.

How long does the super bloom last? ›

Prepare to spend around 30 minutes exploring a one way route along winding willow-lined paths set to a specially commissioned soundscape with sculptural elements along the way.

What are the earliest wildflowers to bloom in the springtime? ›

Common Spring-Flowering Ephemerals. Go for a walk in the woods to see the first wildflowers! Called “spring ephemerals,” these tiny flowers emerge in early spring and disappear when the tree canopies fill out! They have descriptive names: Trillium, bloodroot, Dutchman's breeches, and Virginia bluebells, to name a few.

Is Valley of Flowers worth visiting? ›

Valley of Flowers is known for its immaculate natural beauty and a drive from here to places like Haridwar and Joshimath takes people through the mountains creating wonderful experiences. It means one has to come across numerous ghat sections.

Where is this beautiful flower tunnel? ›

This tunnel in Japan illustrates that concept perfectly — multiplied by one hundred million. The Kawachi Fuji Gardens are located in Kitakyushu, Japan, and embody a seamless blend of architecture and nature. The garden features 150 Wisteria plants, along with 20 different species, but the tunnel is the crown jewel.

When should I go to Valley of Flowers? ›

Though the Valley is beautiful in May, June and September. But for maximum number of flowers in July and August are most preferred months. Tourists should inquire about the weather and road conditions especially during the monsoons, before planning their trip to Valley of Flowers.

What month do mountain laurels bloom? ›

When the buds burst open in May or June, the branches are virtually obscured by blooms. They can range from white to pink to deep rose and are distinctively tattooed with symmetrical maroon or purple dots or streaks.

What happens if you touch mountain laurel? ›

Nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, convulsions, and increasingly paralysis follow. Then comes coma and death. “Children have been poisoned by merely sucking on the flowers of this plant. Even honey made from mountain laurel pollen is toxic,” the Department of Agriculture adds.

What month laurel grows? ›

Those planted in the growing season (March to October) will have to be watered more than those planted in the late autumn, winter or early spring. Rootballed plants can be planted from November to March when the plants are not growing.

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