If you want to start gardening and transforming your home's landscape, you've probably been faced with a dilemma. What plants should you choose? Yes, this is a big question that sometimes can be overwhelming. We want to change that right now.
Just know that, because there are thousands of choices, we won't be able to cover everything here in this section... but we will give it our best effort.
Guide To Choosing Plants
Choosing plants can be a daunting challenge. Just walking through your local garden center will get your head spinning. We can only hope you don't go into meltdown and throw in the towel!
We're here to make sense of it all.
Sure, there are, literally, thousands of plants you could choose and as you start your plant search, you'll find the choices are even more if you want to learn about all plants, even ones that cannot be planted where you live.
You will need to consider the plant's recommended growing conditions, it's water needs, it's soil needs, does it flower, how tall does it get, whether it needs trimming regularly, and how it will fit within your overall garden and the other plants around it.
This is why we want to say... YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EVERY PLANT before even beginning.
If you're just getting started, what we want you to do is start with the basics - the most common plants - and gradually move away from those, branching out into more exotic choices. That's what we want for you and that's what we want you to get out of this plant guide.
Before we get into some details, a word about latin names.
When searching for plants using this guide, we are not emphasizing the latin names. Sometimes we won't even mention them at all. We will often be referring to plants using their common names, the name most people know.
Is it important to know the latin names of all plants? We don't think so, even though others might say differently.
Here's our opinion on this ... YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW THE LATIN NAME to be a master at gardening and have gorgeous gardens.
Yours truly, Tony, has never paid close attention to those hard-to-pronounce names. Even Art, my landscaping partner, although knowing and studying them to get his horticulture degree, doesn't need to use them much in his daily gardening. That being said, together, we've created some fantastic looking gardens for ourselves and clients!
Sure, go ahead and learn the latin names if you want to impress your friends, but it's not necessary to create some great landscapes.
Read more about us by CLICKING HERE!
Latin names aside, here are some other thoughts you should consider:
Check out our planting zones chart and find out in which growing zone you live. This chart shows you the hardiness of plants you should be using; that is, what's the lowest temperature in you're area that plants need to survive in. This will narrow down your choice of plants for sure.
For instance, if you're in growing zone 5, you won't be able to plant tropical plants in your garden and expect them to survive the winter. Tropical plants will die in cold temperatures.
When shopping, most plant tags will list its hardiness, so you'll know exactly what which ones will survive in your area and which one's won't.
You'll see tags listing the plant's sun requirments. Full sun, partial shade, and full shade are the most common.
Keep in mind that these terms are general terms listing the most ideal planting conditions. That doesn't mean a plant that needs full sun will not grow in partial shade. Indeed, some will not, some might grow, just not as much, some plants that normally display red foliage may be more greenish, etc.
The best advice we can give is if you really like a plant and it's a partial shade plant but your garden is in full sun, try it out. Since gardening is not an exact science, you won't know for sure until you try it.
Another factor that complicates the matter is this. What is full sun? What is partial shade?
Technically, full sun means at least 8 hours of sun per day and partial shade means 6 hours of sun per day, but this can be subjective.
For instance, how much sun your garden gets can also be determined by the time of the year.
Are there deciduous trees around it that don't have leaves blocking the sunlight at certain times of the year? What about the sun angle as the year progresses? Does this change the amount of sun your garden gets? What about plants that have grown tall and are now blocking the sun in a garden that used to be full sun? If a garden gets 7.5 hours of sun, is that still full sun? What about 7 hours?
So the bottom line is this as we've already said... these specs are meant as a general guide so take them as such.
Soil conditions are pretty important when it comes to how well plants do.
Some plants like acidic soil and some like or alkaline soil. In addition, all plants need nutrients, the 3 basic ones being nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
There are other nutrients as well, but we can tell you this for sure. If you're just starting out, don't be bothered by knowing too much about what nutrients are in the soil. Make it easy on yourself.
Yes, know the big 3 and yes, know if a plant needs acid growing conditions or not, but move on from there. You can have beautiful gardens by following our advice here and not knowing about each and every nutrient that's in the soil or not.
Most pros will not go to the trouble of soil testing unless there is a systemic and widespread problem within the garden. If you encounter this then yes, it's time to dive deeper into the soil conditions but otherwise, use of our recommended soil amendment products and fertilizers we recommend and you'll be good to go.
All plants need water. It's a fact. Without water, they die.
This is one of the most common problems we see with our clients, not watering their gardens enough, or thinking they are getting enough water when they really aren't.
Yes, some plants like to be drier than others, which means the soil can dry out between waterings and some like to be wetter, which means if the soil dries out, they will wilt and die. Plus, succulents such as cactus need very little water, so it's important to know a plant's water needs but don't stress out over too much or too little water unless you see the plant look sick.
IMPORTANT TIP: THE WATER NEEDS OF PLANTS IN THE GROUND WILL BE MUCH DIFFERENT THAN PLANTS IN POTS.
Plants In The Ground: Generally, you cannot overwater plants in the ground as long as the soil is draining well. Think about this. Plants in your garden get rained on... sometimes A LOT of rain, sometimes for days on end. Through all of this they survive and if they don't, it might be from lack of sun caused by too many cloudy days in a row, rather than too much rain.
As long as the soil drains excess water, most plants should survive, except those that like to be drier than normal.
One important point: clay soil is bad! Therefore, if you have clay soil it's important to ammend it so that it drains well. Water held in a soup bowl formed by clay soil will definitely not be good for any plant.
Plants In Pots:
Plants in pots tend to dry our quicker.
First, many times they will be root bound, meaning there's not much soil to hold water at all. Second, the air flow around the pot will tend to dry it out as well.
The lesson learned here is this. Plants in pots need more frequent watering than plants in the ground but they all need water. Water, water water!
Consider a plant's growing habits when choosing them for your gardens.
How tall does it grow? How wide? Does it flower? Is it evergreen or will it loose it's leaves in the winter? How fast does it grow? Will it need to be trimmed 1x per year, or 3x per year? Is it a perennial that will disappear entirely from the garden in winter?
There are many things to consider. That's why it's a good idea to plan out your garden first, then go shopping for what you need. Conversly, if you don't know what you want, go to your local garden center and get some ideas. Write them down. Go home plan your garden, then get to work.
Soon, you'll have a garden you can be proud to show off to others.
How To Use Our Easy To Understand Plant Guide:
We've tried to make this plant guide section easy to understand.
Yes, there are a lot of plants to cover. Our goal is to profile as many plants as possible on their own pages. One page devoted to one plant.
In addition, we'll be comparing plants and listing plants on other topically relevant pages in other sections.
Here are the main topics covered within our plant guide:
- Annuals: Descriptions and uses for many annuals for use in your gardens.
- Perennials: Descriptions and uses for perennials.
- Ornamental Trees: How you can incorporate ornamental trees in your landscape.
- Shrubs: Descriptions of a wide variety of shrubs that will add presence to your gardens
Each topic can have hundreds of articles each. Admittedly, putting all that information together is a daughting task but we will do our best.
Click on the "plant guide" tag to the right to find articles we've tagged appropriate. In addition, at the bottom of this page you'll see a summary of articles within the "plant guide" category.
Finally, use our search feature by clicking the search icon at the top right of the page. Here you can search for articles on any plant or topic you wish. Any articles containing the word or phrase searched for will come up in results.
Thank you for trusting us here at Garden Masterz for all your gardening information and needs. We hope you'll have fantastic garden spaces to show for it!