Short Prairie Mixes for CO neighbors of habitat

Sunny Container Mix

As you live in this world you begin to know what makes for happy neighbors. For some its a natural part of life.  For others, we have to work at being amongst the world.  The older I get the more introverted my tendency. Luckily I have outgoing neighbors to draw me out. And over the years we’ve created fabrics of support.  This year my close neighbors will receive seed I collected from my garden in the combinations that have proven happy over time.  I have cultivated from different areas of my yard with various watering schemes, soils, and light.


  1. Sunny Container mix:  Dill, Black-Eyed Susan, Mexican hair grass
  2. Shade mix:  Echinacea^, heucera^, catmint
  3. Sun to Shade Dry Pathway’s edge:  Flax, catmint, Black-Eyed Susan
  4. Sunny Dry prairie mix:  June Grass, Side-Oats grama, Dalea Purpurea^
  5. Sunny Irrigated prarire mix:  June Grass, Bergamot^, Prairie Dropseed. Cosmos*
  6. Sunny Dry Mediterranean: Mexican hair grass, cosmos, lavender^
  7. FUTURE: Sunny Tall prairie mix: Verbena^, big bluestem, dill, Echinacea^

Seeds (^) will not flower until the 2nd season.

*Cosmos seeds are reliable yearly annuals that can become a filler plant for areas with sparse or dry clay soils.  Do not do well in wet clay (little does!).

Irrigated Prairie Mix

Instuctions for planting:

Toss the seeds down before Christmas and let winter do its work. Do not cover soil. In some mixes, plant amongst your reliable bloomers for first year.  Pathways Mix:  Best with a loose gravel like pea gravel.  You can just toss into gravel at the edges of the path.  Then relax and wait for spring.  Note some plants may resemble weeds but rest assured, these will have flowers you will enjoy!  So until you know for sure the flower that comes from the plant -don’t remove.  Then listen when your neighbor points out the huge weed you have going!

About the flower mixes

These mixes are my successes with native and low maintenance gardens.  Its a culmination of my journey as a gardener, and nothing is closer to my heart.  What started with a love of flowers and design became a mission to create low maintenance gardens with subtle but significant purpose.  My edging is grass and weekly maintenance is smaller in the depth of summer as is my watering bill.  I weed once a week in May, every two weeks in June depending on the bind weed.  Then its only once a month mid-summer through October.

If everyone is successful in adding these small bits to their gardens.. it will create a bigger impact for our community as a habitat provider.  These mixes feed birds, butterflies, and bees.   Some are fragrant, some are tall. But all — if we can give it back to our open space, will create a habitat corridor and a gift for all our neighbors.  We become a neighbor of habitat.  Which is a marvel every city dweller in Denver can come by through containers of their own – and green roof initiatives of Denver.


Pathway Mix

Short grass prairie mix

If you don’t have me as a neighbor and want ideas on what to plant you could create the mixes above with seeds suiting your site.

We need eco specific mixes of small planted areas where our plants make the most good.

A review of the wild flowers in the Prairie Moon short grass mix for a Colorado sandy lot.  Will enough of the seed mix meet the requirments of an extreme environment.  Sand is the main component, seeded with CRP grass seed.  This review takes the published contents from the Prairie Moon mix and determines the percentage of seed that meets the criteria for a farm’s frontage to a county road.  Considerations do not include toxity to farm animals.  But in any setting where livestock may graze – this should be considered.

  • Native to Eastern Colorado
  • Sandy soil
  • <10″ precipitation

BEST USE:  Midwest States.  The flower contents are most likely to be successful in areas with greater moisture and soil structure.

SUITABILITY FOR COLORADO:  Grass Restoration.  The grass contents will work in the thin soils of Colorado counties where sand is a primary soil component.  But if you are looking for restoration, you are better off going to a CRP grass provider for economy of scale.  Only 14% of the flower mix is found in Colorado and some of those need more moisture than a Colorado plains can provide.  So if you are looking for a flower mix, it may be best to create your own as suggested in the prairie mix I have created over the years.

Lbs/Acre 12.61

Seeds/Sq.Ft. 133

Sun Full

Soil Moisture Dry

USDA Zones  3-7



Botanical Name (Common Name)

% by wt.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)

Colorado Native as well as most of the east/midwest

southwest regions.


Coreopsis lanceolata (Lance-leaf Coreopsis)

Native to Colorado and most states east and south


Dalea purpurea (Purple Prairie Clover)

Native to Colorado and dryer southwestern states and colder

Wyoming and Montana.


Penstemon grandiflorus (Large-flowered Beardtongue)

Native to Colorado east to great lakes and south to Texas


Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan)

Native to much of the US and Canada, except the driest areas of Nevada

and Arizona.


Solidago nemoralis (Old Field Goldenrod)

Native to Colorado east to Maine


Verbena stricta (Hoary Vervain)

Native to most states except California, Florida



Botanical Name (Common Name)

% by wt.

Baptisia bracteata (Cream Wild Indigo)

Native to mid-western/southern states


Callirhoe triangulata (Clustered Poppy Mallow)

Native to specific Mid-Western states and south


Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge Pea)

Native to New Mexico east to New York and Midwest


Artemisia ludoviciana (Prairie Sage)

Native to north-western states – Montana/Wyoming/Idaho




Crotalaria sagittalis (Rattlebox)

Native to taller grass prairie states to the east and south.


Echinacea pallida (Pale Purple Coneflower)

Native to taller grass prairie in nebraska east and south

Great lakes region


Euphorbia corollata (Flowering Spurge)

Native to taller grass prairie all the way east to Maine


Helianthus occidentalis (Western Sunflower)

USDA defines occidentalis as the Few Leaf Sunflower.

Native to many execpt the western states.  The Western Sunflower

is a southwest variety called Anomalus


Lupinus perennis (Wild Lupine)

Native to great lakes and south to Texas


Monarda punctata (Spotted Bee Balm)

Native to east coast, great lakes, and south to Texas.


Oenothera rhombipetala (Sand Evening Primrose)

Midwest native – with more moisture


Symphyotrichum oolentangiense (Sky Blue Aster)

Native to Kansas east to Great Lakes and lower southern states.


Symphyotrichum sericeum (Silky Aster)

Native to central US tall grass prairie


Tephrosia virginiana (Goat’s Rue)

Native to central US, Great Lakes and south.


Tradescantia ohiensis (Ohio Spiderwort)

Native to central US, Great Lakes and south.



50.17 %


Botanical Name (Common Name)

% by wt.

Amorpha canescens (Lead Plant)

Native to Colorado east through traditional taller grass prairie states


Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey Tea)

Eastern states west to Kansas and taller grass prairies


Rosa blanda (Early Wild Rose)

Native to northern tall grass prairies



1.98 %


Botanical Name (Common Name)

% by wt.

Bouteloua curtipendula (Side-oats Grama)

Found in most of the US this is a good base grass for Colorado prairie

and good for elk browsing


Carex brevior (Plains Oval Sedge)

Native to Colorado and the county.


Carex muehlenbergii (Sand Bracted Sedge)

Native to Kansas east to the coast


Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple Love Grass)

Native to Colorado east to the coast.  In colorado its in the south-east

Good forage in early spring, but usually not abundant


Juncus dudleyi (Dudley’s Rush)

This rush is throughout the US.


Koeleria macrantha (June Grass)

Native to Colorado and most of the US.  Good early forage but prefers loams

to sandy loams and >12″ precip per year.  Better for a higher elevation or

area with some supplemental irrigation


Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)

Native to Colorado and well suited to thin soils.  Great for ground birds

and small mammals.


Sporobolus cryptandrus (Sand Dropseed)

Native to most of the US, extremely drought tolerant and good in sandy soils.



47.85 %


Last updated 06/10/20

An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.