|Tom Smith, Proven Winners|
By Tom Smith, Founding Member of Proven Winners
Like most purchases, buying the right plants for your garden requires a little preparation and planning. To get the most out of your investment, consider these simple rules:
1. Get in the zone: There are a few organizations that have split the country into different zones according to regional weather patterns. Plants have varying levels of hardiness, so a specific plant can flourish in one zone while failing in another.
2. Do your homework: It’s a good idea to research the plants’ susceptibility to disease or infestation. There may be a current outbreak of pests you’re unaware of specific to your geographic region.
3. Assess your landscape: As you know, shade-loving plants can fry in the sun, while sun-loving plants can starve in the shade. Before you plant in a specific area, check it every few hours to determine how much shade and sun it gets on a given day.
4. Design your flower bed: For bigger landscaping projects, coordinate a variety of plants, from bushes and flowers to border plants, using the dimensions of your flower bed. You can request a copy of The Gardener’s Idea Book from Proven Winners (free to residents of the U.S. and Canada).
5. Prepare for the future: Remember that plants grow! Check the projected height and width of each plant to avoid unhealthy and unattractive crowding.
6. Arrange according to height: Once you know the projected height of a plant, choose taller plants for the back of the bed and shorter ones for the front. This creates a beautiful layering effect that showcases each plant.
7. Plan for each season: Try staggering flowers according to their season. Some plants bloom for just a few weeks, so choose different varieties to ensure your flower bed stays colorful.
8. Choose buds, not blooms: When making your choice at your local nursery, buy flowering plants with more buds than blooms. The blooming ones may look better in the nursery, but you want to be able to enjoy them for as many weeks as you can.
9. Check the plants’ health: Take the time to examine the plants in the nursery. Look for insects or browning leaves, and check for an overly crowded or shriveled root ball.
10. Know your limitations: If you don’t have time for watering and trimming, choose low-maintenance plants that don’t require much water once they’re established.
If you take a little time to research and design your plants before you buy them, you’ll end up with a beautiful garden for years of enjoyment!