Gardening With An “Altitude” Means Garden Blooms at 8,000 Feet

HighAltitudeGarden3wtmk I missed July’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day because I was enjoying a week long trip in Colorado visiting my brother and sister-in-law. They have a horse ranch and while visiting, my entire family got to experience “ranch life” up close and personal. It was incredible.

But what is also incredible is the challenge of growing a garden at 8,000 feet in the beautiful Colorado mountains. For my belated Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day post, I am going to show you what my sister-in-law is growing in her completely organic, high-altitude garden right now.

The red flower above is Mexican Hat Flower.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to growing a garden at high altitude. You have a much shorter growing season which means you have to plant at the exact right moment or you miss your window of opportunity. And of course, there are a few things that just don’t work out in a short season. But those plants that get growing right away, look spectacular!!!


One advantage to high-altitude gardening is that you usually have fewer pests and disease than those of us at lower elevations. The air is also dry, so you don’t have the mildew and rot associated with humid climates. Once you get your garden planted, your biggest challenges are usually watering and the local deer population.

Here we have bachelor buttons and daisies…


Check out those hollyhocks coming up behind the latter!


And here is a great idea for creating a bird bath…


Most herbs do especially well at high altitude…


If you are interested in learning more about High Altitude Gardening, check out THIS informative website, this BLOG by a woman in Park City, Utah and THIS article from Organic Gardening Magazine. One source for seeds/plants is High Country Gardens.

I garden at sea level with an ocean breeze causing all kind of mildew problems. It is so interesting to see the same plants I struggle to grow doing so well at high-altitude without a trace of mildew. It was almost as humbling as trying to walk up a tiny hill without getting winded and collapsing in a heap. My sea level lungs just didn’t cut it too well at 8,000 feet!

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About the Author

Theresa Loe is the Co-Executive TV Producer and the On-Air Canning/Homesteading Expert for the national PBS gardening TV series, Growing A Greener World. She is a lifetime canner and a graduate of the Master Food Preserver Program. She studied both sustainable horticulture and professional culinary arts and she is a wrangler of chickens and two teenage children. (Not necessarily in that order.)

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Pat Hilty July 17, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I love the gardens and I always recommend High Country Gardens Nursery to my clients west of the Rockies. They have the highest survival rate for plants, great combination gardens and variety and very reliable shipping.

    Reply edit
  • Theresa Loe/GardenFreshLiving July 18, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Thanks Pat.

    I agree about High Country Gardens. Many catalogs have a “high Alt” section, but HCG devotes their whole catalog to it. And their plants can grow at other altitudes as well. It is a nice company.

    Reply edit
  • Jeannie May 17, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Just a FYI when buying plants for high altitude–latitude makes a difference! What works at 8000′ in New Mexico is different for the same altitude in say Colorado or Wyoming. Nice post!! I live at 8300′ in Colorado and much of what we plant is a free buffet for the elk and deer! LOL

    Reply edit
  • Theresa Loe/GardenFreshLiving May 18, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Excellent point Jeannie!

    Thanks for the comment. I guess we should look at garden zones more than altitude.

    Bummer about the elk buffet though…

    Reply edit

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