Colorado Front Range Thread


I figured I’d put together a thread for folks in the Colorado Front Range to connect on various local topics. Drop in and say hi if you live in the area or have local topics.

Here are a few front rangers I saw in the forum threads:
@RichardRoundTree @danCO @cis4elk @Scooter @aphahn @olreader @mikek @Steve333 @SamCOz5 @Codude


A few others:
@milehighgirl @colorado_orange @mikek


Great idea ross, Sad to see all our peaches get hit so hard but the western slope should have like a 40% harvest and hopefully things will start getting a bit easier! At least we got a nice set of frost free days to get our gardens started right now.



Good thinking Ross! It’s too late to think of anything new to add at the moment.


Thanks for starting this. Nice to meet you all! I haven’t been on here much over winter, but I’ll be happy to see what you all have going on this year. My fruit bushes that were blooming (nanking cherry, honeyberry )had all their blooms frozen, so no fruit this year. My Juliet cherry was budded for leaves and seems to have escaped damage from our freeze. Toka plum blooms frozen and likely crabapple. Trees that I have that weren’t blooming yet (but are babies, so may not fruit anyhow) are apples, Contender peach and Stanley plum. How did all your stuff fare? What all do you grow and have success (or not) with? So sad about all the peaches this year. maybe it will give the trees a bit of a rest so next year will be brilliant!


I’m up in Laporte, and most of our stuff was still budding out so it looks like the frost didn’t hurt us. I think the Nankings are good - they hadn’t flowered yet. I have had them in for a long time, but last year was the first time I got a really good crop. Wonderful jam!
Apples are just leafing out. We have about 80 heirloom varieties we have put in over the last four years and I’m hoping for a good crop this year.


Thanks for this! Im in SE denver and i fear we will get no peaches. Some were still closed but not tight, many blossoms were just opening. This is the 4th year of our peach trees and i finally have them pruned into a good shape. We were looking forward to a bumper crop. We were also hoping for bountiful apples as our trees seem to be on a three year cycle and this should have been the big year.


Hi All,

Awesome to hear from you, and glad we can pull together our local community in this thread!

I’m jealous of all your reports about what’s fruiting an not. At our last place, we planted a honeycrisp, north star cherry, elberta peach, new haven(?) peach, honeysweet and potomac pears, a green gage plum that died (x2… I suspect some ground contamination), gooseberries, strawberries, and currants. We left 4 years after planting, and didn’t get any pears or peaches. Lots of veggies.

The new place has an old apple and E pear I’m going to try my hand at grafting. And now, I’m trying to figure out our planting plan, but struggling a bit with root stocks… for what will practically work in our conditions as well as what I can actually get my hands on now, as bare root isn’t available and nurseries don’t seem to know specifics on their root stocks.

cis4elk and richardRoundTree educated me on going standard rootstock on peaches, and the local nursery owner suggests standard on all fruits in Colorado. I know some of you mentioned semi-dwarf can work on others… but do they work well here, that I can plant with confidence yet save some space? Plums, pears, apples, sour cherry are what we’re talking about.



Gisela are amazing rootstocks and possibly would not even need supplemental irrigation to stay alive for your sour cherries, Also for pears the ohf 333 and 87 rootstocks lasts very long here and are very drought tolerant, Mariana works good for plums and you summer prune for size. I have not had goodluck with apples and am switching from the best tasting heirlooms to FB resistant trees. The rootstock for apples i would like to track down would be whatever rootstocks were sold to a family friend in 1920-21 as cold hardy semi dwarfs. He special ordered them in san francisco after working on the orchards for one year after ww1 and got all his trees in two years on two different trips home. These were perfectly drought tolerant apple trees pruned into a dutch fence that got zero southwest damage.


Interesting… that’s really good information. I read that the Gisela 5 and 6 may need staking… do you know anything about that in our conditions? Sounds like 6 is closer to a true semi-dwarf.

Do you have any idea the sizes of trees the root stocks will produce in our growing conditions, either for unrestricted size or, mild to moderate maintenance for each fruit? I hear about people planting 3 or 4’ apart, and others at 15’ spacing, and can only figure that this is all related to how aggressive one is with maintenance pruning for size. Personally, I don’t want to be performing maintenance more than 1-2x per year.


I have found gisela 3,5,6 to be very free standing and well anchored trees its probably our clay that anchors it so well however I do not respect vines that try to pass themselves off as trees. All trees are different i wanted lots of smaller trees to spread out the harvest and keep things easy for harvest and have the ability to cover if i ever had the time or willpower. You should really do what you picture in your mind that makes you happy. I definitely would not do 3-4’ spacing here.


Thanks. I definitely prefer smaller, if sustainable in our conditions and with mild managment. That said, I still don’t understand the concept of how spacing like 3-5’ works without lots of work. And also, not clear how small a standard or semi-dwarf plum can be kept with mild attention.

Do you have any good local and trusted sources for fruit trees where they know the root stock? Locally, I’m only finding generic ‘semi-dwarf’ or ‘standard’, and ordering bare root would require waiting until next year.


Well the amount you water how fertile your soil is and the way you prune influences size the most with semi dwarves as each scion is going to greatly influence size also so thats why you are not getting concrete answers. I keep most stuff 8’ or more away and work at keeping things smaller and barely irrigate compared to a regular lawn and try to keep a good carpet of clover perrenial rye (its buffalograss right now mainly) and dandelions in the yard for my dogs and keep it nice and long for the insects. You can really do any size you want from 6’ spacing to much more to make your life easier and it also depends on how much you are going to irrigate and if you are going to woodchip everything or have a lawn underneath. Find a vision of your land and orchard that makes you happy and make it work is what i say you do not really need to overthink it completely, get good recommendations of things you would like to eat and grow and ask if people think they will work if it seems like you have a good shot go ahead and do it. We have rough weather so do not be discouraged if things do not work out. Its sad you had to move before you got to enjoy the fruits of your labor but you learn and someone else ideally will super appreciate them.

For up north
Fort Collins Nursery and Bath gardens will know what they are selling if you are up north but all there stuff will be potted this year by now (most likely)
For denver and more south
Holly acres nursery is a good one in elizabeth and has a good selection of fruit trees, they get lots of bare roots but are usually sold out by april but worth checking
O’Tooles in south denverish is a good place they have mostly standard but also semi dwarves also potted
The tree farm and nursery in longmont also has a good amount of fruit trees also potted mostly all standards some on semi dwarf


Fwiw (keep in mind im total amateur hack) our plums and the others in our neighborhood rarely produce. They are our favorite blossoms and smell soooo good but fruit wise we just dont get any. Ours seem to be closer to wild than not, neighbors are properly planted and cared for and still barely produce.

If i had space id try apricot. I cant believe how well some of them do and taste here.

We wasted hundreds and hundreds of dollars on nursery peach trees and i finally got frustrated and thought id just buy some for ornamental if not fruit. I bought three versions in pots from big box stores, spent two years pruning and shaping the, and they have been amazing. Productive, thriving and delicious.

Every cherry tree i have planted died. An apple volunteered where we kept trying the cherry and i got sick of replacing them so now we have who knows what flavor of apple. Might get fruit this year. Might remove it and plant more peaches.


Hi Richard - I haven’t checked out FCN&B, but will see. When I spoke to Holly Acres previously, they did not know their root stocks, just ‘semi-dwarf’. I haven’t been able to reach the tree farm, and will try again.

Yeah, CODude… it’s a bit hit and miss here. Everything I had heard was that Apricots didn’t do well here, so if you know of one that has done well and is tasty, I’d glad to hear about it.

When do you all usually do apple/pear grafting here in the front range? I have some scionwood in the fridge!


I wish I had more to contribute but most of my trees are second year in the back yard.

My two peaches, Contender and Elberta, have done well in terms of delayed bloom - I’ve had crops the past three years, going on four this year, and many places say front range peaches are successful 1 in 3 years… As I mentioned before, it might have to do with it’s placement on the north-eastern side of a fence and how it keeps the ground and roots cooler, but my Elberta is just starting to push leaves and buds when many of the state’s peach blooms got toasted a couple weeks ago.

It was my peach success, and apple failure, that brought me to this site. I had no idea why my Honeycrisp was not setting apples. After a little research it became clear that it was no match for the fireblight that is in all the crab apples in the neighborhood. I aggressively pruned out all the strikes two years ago and had no flowers last year. I’m hoping I get something this year. In addition to fireblight, it is a sluggish grower, the leaves look awful come mid to late summer, and J. beetles prefer it above all other plants - I would not recommend it for the Front Range. Any apple going in now has to have high fireblight resistance or I won’t even consider it. I have high hopes for my Splendour keeping the fireblight at bay.

Its still very early but I have E. and hybrid plums, pluots, apricots, nectarines, E. and A. pears, sour and bush cherries, and a Jujube on various different rootstock. I’ll post updates when I have good information but so far everything is alive, so that’s something.


You don’t want your new graft to freeze, so May through mid June is safe. If you have a lot of grafts you could gradually start now. Then if a few freeze it’s not a big deal. Last year a did a couple about now “when the leaves are about the size of squirrels ears” and most later. There was no big difference in growth of those done now and later. These were pear grafts. I am doing more this year and will wait to mid/late May.


Its gearing up to be a hot year. I also experience extremely high fireblight pressure here in Denver and was very confused as to why my apples who i expected to do great (with lower expectations on anything else) were the real dregs of my BYO. I also blame the landscape callery pears as being spreaders of FB around us. This year i am doing milky spore with a bunch of neighbors to help try and get long term control on the JB, its helpful if you can get more people within a mile or 2 applying it around you. I also built a 5 gallon bucket japanese beetle trap that caught atleast 14" of JBs, you just buy one of the bag traps and then cut a hole in a 5 gallon bucket lid and fill it with a gallon of soapy water (also btg)

Got some peach buds surviving and blooming now so that is nice and hope we hang on to this hard frost free weather.


I have Contender and Elberta as well and somehow they both survived the deep freeze in mid April. I woke up to 12 degrees one morning and thought the trees were toast. The blooms were almost showing pink.

The Western Slope got hammered unfortunately from that freeze. They are expecting greater than a 90% loss of this year’s peach crop. Hopefully we have some good backyard peaches to make up for the loss.


The 2018 hail storm (up to about 2.5") left my mature apple and pear hit very hard by fireblight… the timing and weather was just perfect to spread it. I just got to cleaning up the apple this winter, and suspect there are many other affected trees that will never be touched by homeowners. My guess is that with bad hail the last few years, that fire blight exposure could be generally up.

Good to hear that peaches are making it this year, in spite of the cold snap! That is awesome.

@danCO - just curious about the placement of your peaches. Do they get full sun in the winter, or are they partially shaded, where the ground would stay cooler, further into the spring? Two good reports on with contender with this spring’s cold snap definitely sells me on that selection.