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The weather is getting warmer and it will soon be time to plant flowers. However there is a lot of preparation you can do now to ensure your flowers thrive. If you live in Colorado, especially Trinidad, you may need to condition your soil. Contact us and we can help guide you through the process.
Newcomers, particularly those from coastal states such as California, Oregon, New York and the Carolinas, frequently express surprise and disappointment in the lack of broad-leafed evergreen plants such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, pittosporum and similar plants. The highly calcareous soils are partly responsible for this and the rapid changes in our winter temperatures. However, the primary limiting factors are the low humidity, drying winds and intense winter sunlight.
Mountain laurel, rhododendrons and similar types of plants can grow in Colorado where the soils are carefully amended to make them more acid and where the plants are protected from winter wind and sun. Even broadleaved evergreens that can tolerate the more alkaline soils and lower humidity, such as wintercreeper, English ivy, kinnikinnick and Oregon grape holly. They will perform best in a shaded north or east exposure.
Many of our population centers are on heavy, clay soil. These soils have poor aeration that limits root growth. Thus the ability of plants to replenish water loss brought about by low humidity and prevailing winds is limited. Adding more water to such soils further complicates the problem because the water that is added reduces the amount of air in the soil and causes oxygen starvation to the roots. Little can be done to modify humidity and wind, so the obvious solution is to improve the soil.
High soil pH can also negatively affect plant growth. Basically, pH can be described as the measure of acidity or alkalinity of soil. pH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14 where 7, which is neutral, is the optimal level for most plants. Numbers lower than 7 are considered acidic and numbers higher than 7 are considered alkaline or calcareous (high in calcium carbonate). Garden soils in Colorado that have never had amendments added may have a pH value of up to 8.5, which is higher than most plants can tolerate.