This is a good time of the year to match plants that are blooming.
I have seen a number of people in garden centers with a portion of an azalea in hand. They were looking for that particular variety of azalea. Also, there are many gardeners looking to put in new plants on a new landscape, or taking out plants and replacing them with new ones.
When choosing new plants, there are a number of factors to consider. In fact, it is best to look at these factors before going to the garden center.
Start by having a landscape plan drawn out. There are some factors used to select plants: adaptability, plant size, growth rate, texture and color.
When choosing a plant for the landscape, make sure it will grow in our area. Look at rainfall, high and low temperatures, soil type and garden environment or micro-climate.
Plants grown in their preferred temperature zone will survive cold winters and will require less water in the summer..
The cold hardiness zone can be determined by consulting the USDA Cold Hardiness Zone Map available in most plant reference books. Much of Georgia is in cold hardiness zone 7 or 8. The Augusta area can grow plants for zone 7 or 8, because the plant zone splits this area. Plants typically have a label that provides their cold hardiness zone.
Heat zones are relatively new. They are based on the high temperatures for an area.
Soil type plays an important role when selecting plants. Many reference books have list of plants that grow best in wet, moist or dry soils. Many reference books will provide a list of plants that grow well in wet shady areas or wet sunny areas
Micro-climate is a term that relates to a small area affected by the surroundings. A small pocket area might have a micro-climate that permits a plant to survive in an otherwise harsh environment. Examples are a courtyard that stays warmer than nearby areas, or a wet area near a downspout.
The next factor to look at is plant size. This is one of the more common mistakes that I see in the landscape. It can happen to the best of gardeners. Sometimes, plants have the wrong tag in them. I have some plants in my yard that the tag stated would reach a height of 5 to 6 feet, but they are 7 years old and are reaching the second-story window.
Put in a plant that will fit in a given area. If there is space for a 4-by-4-foot shrub, don't plant one that will grow 10 feet in diameter. Also, make sure not to plant tall plants too close to the house.
The next factor is growth rate. Different species of plants grow at different rates, so don't mix a slow-growing plant with fast-growing plants. This can make the landscape seem out of balance. Desirable plants that are slow-growing should be planted in areas where they will not affect the landscape plan, but will bring attention to the plants.
Another factor to consider is the texture of the plant. The texture of individual leaves on a plant varies greatly, with leaves that are shiny, dull, hairy or fuzzy, smooth or quilted. These leaves can be small, medium or large. Considering how its texture will relate to nearby plants and structures will help bring out the beauty of a plant.
Many gardeners will place shrubs with big leaves next to shrubs with small or medium-sized leaves. Another way to place these plants is to use leaves that are shiny next to a different type of leaf. One way to see how these shrubs will complement each other is to place them next to each other at the store.
The last factor is color. Many gardeners look at this as the first factor.
Many gardeners look at the flowers on plants, but there are many plants with foliage that makes the plant stand out in the garden year round and not just for a few weeks each year. When planning color for a landscape, visualize the combinations of the different colors. As with texture, place the plants next to each other at the store to see what color combinations are going to work.
Buying the right plant and putting it in the right place will provide more success with any landscape.
Charles Phillips is a retired Columbia County Extension Service agent and operates Hort Consulting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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