- Consider the size of the plant at maturity.
- The plant should complement - not compete - with its surroundings once it has reached its mature height and spread.
- The plant should not require constant pruning to maintain the shape or size that you wish it to have.
Properly caring for a plant will greatly influence its rate of growth. While it is often tempting to select plants that will provide a quick fix, remember that the fastest grower may not always be the best plant for the spot in the long run. In fact, many fast growing plants may have undesirable characteristics that must also be considered. "Slow" growers, given proper care, may be more satisfying in the end.
- Make sure your plant and your planting site are a good match.
- Choose plants that will tolerate the site's environmental factors.
- For example, plantings in areas affected by winter de-icing salts should be avoided or planted with species that are tolerant of salt.
- Similarly, moisture tolerant species are your best choices for sites with poor drainage and heavy soils.
Hardiness refers to the ability of a plant to survive the temperature extremes in a particular region. Plants are tested for hardiness and given a rating that indicates the zone in which they can be expected to survive and thrive. To help ensure the survival of your plant, pick one that is hardy for the area in which you will be planting. The health of your plant and soil, the location of your planting site, and the care you provide, all have an important impact on determining the hardiness of your plant.
- Plants require both oxygen and moisture for proper growth. Carefully examine the soil and drainage of your site before planting.
- To test drainage, dig a hole 12 inches deep and fill it with water. The water should drain away at a rate of approximately 1/2" per hour so that the hole is empty after 24 hours has passed. If water still remains in the hole after this time, a drainage problem exists.
- Don't conduct this test after periods of heavy rain.
Contact your local nursery professional for advice on soil texture and soil structure. Professional advice is best when considering soil amendments.
- Normal pH of 5.5 to 7.5 is best for most plants.
- Low pH indicates a soil that is acid.
- A pH greater than 7.0 indicates alkaline soils which normally exist next to the foundation of a home.
- Soil pH can be altered through the use of many different materials. A soil test may be advisable. Contact your nursery professional or county extension office for information on soil testing labs.
- Consider the surroundings and any obstructions plants may encounter as they grow to maturity.
- Nearby structures and plants will affect levels of light, temperature, moisture and hardiness.
- Plants can be used for shade or as a screen between your yard and a neighbor.
- Plants can bring flowers and fruit, or autumn color, to our homes.
- Plants can provide structure and color to winter landscapes or food and shelter for wildlife.