Many—and perhaps most—gardeners understand that a good practice is to buy plants in the fall, so that they can be irrigated by the rains while establishing their roots in preparation for a growth spurt in the spring.
That’s a better strategy than buying plants in the spring when garden centers offer plants with fertilizer-induced early blooms and a tendency to fade in common garden soil.
Another good practice: buy plants for specific goals. Purposeful purchases will be more successful than impulse buys, which can be based on an attractive name or an effective sales display.
With these ideas in mind for early planters, here are ten guidelines for visiting a garden center or opening a mail-order catalog,
- Fill a specific gap in the landscape. Look first for a plant with an appropriate size at maturity, and then consider the variety of secondary factors.
- Provide color when needed. You might want more color in the spring, or the summer, or the fall. With a bit of research, you can find plants that will show color on the desired schedule.
- Feed birds, bees, and butterflies. These winged creatures benefit from, healthy food sources, and will come quickly to gardens where the right plants are available.
- Develop a collection of plants. Different species within a genus, or different varieties within a species, add interest to the garden. Another rose, or another fuchsia, for example, will compare nicely with the existing selections.
- Extend a color scheme. A white garden, or a yellow and blue garden, for example, will look even better with an additional specimen that fits the scheme.
- Add a needed spot of color. A well-placed and well-chosen colorful plant can enliven a too-green planting bed by bringing an eye-catching contrast (but avoid adding color randomly).
- Create a focal point. A specific situation might call for an interesting plant, container or sculpture to be strategically placed to attract the eye of anyone walking through the garden.
- Fill a container. A large, empty container, or one with a plant past its prime, can become a strong asset in the garden with a well-chosen new plant or combination of plants. For a successful project, use fresh planting mix.
- Protect against pests and diseases. If diseases or gophers or any of several other pests invade your garden look for a pest-resistant plant, or replace one that’s not.
- Add a drought-resistant plant. A garden of succulent plants and others that evolved for a dry climate will grow well during the predicted future years of light rainfall.
You might have other specific reasons for buying plants. It’s most important to know the role the plant will play when you bring it to the garden. An Internet search or a reference like Sunset’s Western Garden Book can help with these decisions. If a plant also has an appealing name or a bright blossom, that’s a plus!
Enjoy a creative and purposeful browse through a garden center or a nursery catalog!