The western United States has a variety of growing conditions. Temperate forests, grasslands, alpine meadows, coastal beaches and sandy deserts encompass only part of the landscape in the west. Every geographical niche blooms with flowering plants throughout the growing season. Some areas promote flower blossoming year round. Flowering plants liven up the garden with splashes of brilliant color.
Bitter root (Lewisia rediviva) grows 12 inches tall with low rosettes of succulent leaves. These leaves wither by the time bitter root produce flowers in March. White and pink blossoms have 10 to 19 petals reaching 2 inches across. These flowers close during the night and open with the first kiss of morning sunlight. Bitter root grows in sagebrush and ponderosa pine habitats.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is a flower with blue-green, airy fern-like leaves that sprout from the base. The stalks reach 12 inches tall. These poppies produce orange and yellow flowers with satiny blossoms. The cup-shaped flowers are made up of four petals. California poppies grow at elevations below 2,000 feet.
Coast rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) is a flowering evergreen shrub. This upright bush grows 6 to 12 feet tall. Coast rhododendron can grow into a small tree of 25 feet in height. This rhododendron has oblong leaves with dark green tops and pale undersides. The flowers are five petaled and trumpet-shaped. Pink, rose, purple and white blossoms have ruffled edges. Coast rhododendrons grow from sea level to 6,000 feet in the Cascade Mountain Range.
Indian paintbrush (Castilleja linariifolia) is an upright perennial with an unbranched stem. The hairy leaves are gray green and yellow green with three to five lobes. Pink-red and yellow-orange flower spikes are made up of three to five lobed petals. These flowers appear from April through July. The Indian paintbrush is a semi-parasitic plant that uses another plant's roots to obtain water and food.
Rocky Mountain Columbine
Rocky Mountain columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) is a bushy, clumping perennial growing 3 feet tall. The compound leaves are made up of deep-lobed leaflets. These leaflets are dark green with purple edges. The white blossoms have five petals with backward stretching spurs, 2 inches long. The pale blue, star-shaped sepals are set behind the petals. The blossoms are 2 to 3 inches across and usually face upwards. Rocky Mountain columbine blooms in the late spring to early summer.