Choosing the Right Plant for the Right Spotsiteadmin
Choosing the Right Plant for the Right Spot
I cannot say how many times I’ve been driving around Halifax and have seen almost every other house with a hemlock right outside their front door. Thirty-three years ago, I took home a “dead” hemlock that somebody had returned to the nursery and planted it. Today, this hemlock is almost 20 feet wide and 30 feet tall. So, why would someone ever plant a hemlock so close to their house? That’s the totally wrong plant to be there. (Now, if you want a hemlock outside your door, there are plenty of beautiful dwarf hemlocks, but just not a regular Canadian hemlock.)
The main problem I see is that most people don’t plant for tomorrow. By tomorrow, I mean five or ten years down the road. Everybody plants for today. They see something, they think it’s beautiful, they buy it, they take it home, and they plop it in. However, they never look at the tag to see what the full, mature growth of that plant is. If they did, they wouldn’t do something like plant a hemlock right outside their front door.
So, what can you do to choose the right plant for the spot you are trying to fill? There are a few tips and tricks I’ve found in my years as a horticulturist. These include checking the tag, determining the direction your plant will face, and considering the wind and salt exposure. You should also think about how the color, texture, and shape of the plant you want will suit the spot you are planting in.
#1 – Check the Tag
Before you buy a plant, make sure you look at the tag to determine how big that plant is going to get. That will factor into your decision on whether or not to buy the plant and, if you do, where you are going to plant it.
#2 – Consider the Direction
Another factor to consider is your direction. Will your plant be facing south, west, east, or north? The direction your plant is facing will determine the amount of sunlight it gets. Sun-loving plants should be planted in a south-facing direction, while shade-loving plants are better suited to a north-facing direction.
#3 – Evaluate Wind and Salt Exposure
In the spot you are planting, will it be windy? If so, you need to make a plan for how you are going to protect your new plant from the wind. Alternatively, consider planting wind-resistant plants like lavender, daylilies, stonecrop, coneflower, grasses, and Russian sage.
You also need to think about whether your plant will be affected by road salt or sea spray. Salt exposure limits the number of plants you can grow to those such as sea thrift, lantana, yucca, and yarrow.
#4 – Ponder Color, Texture, and Shape
Lastly, you need to think about the color, texture, and shape of the plant you want for your space. For example, there are lots of evergreens out there that will give you various colors. Pine and spruce trees are a little bit sharp, but cypress and firs are soft. Are you looking for pyramidal, which is like an upside-down ice cream cone; round, weeping, ground cover; or something unusual? If you’re not sure, come visit us and we’ll help you decide.
Note that if you are planting near your house, you also need to consider the color of your house. For example, say you have a yellow house. You wouldn’t want a golden evergreen up against it because you just won’t see it. You might opt instead for a beautiful blue evergreen.
If you’re buying fancy plants like spirals, or “corkscrews,” or poodles, or bonsai, know that they don’t naturally grow that way. You’ll have to constantly be pruning them to keep their shape.
Caring for Your New Plant
Once you’ve decided on the right plants for the right spots, now you need to care for them. Keep your new plants well-watered for the entire first year. This means a long, slow soak every other day or every few days, depending on the plant. If you prefer, you can purchase some water bladders to set above the ground and have them water your plants for you. These inner tube-like devices slowly leech 15 gallons of water into the soil over a 5- to 8-hour period.
To fertilize your new plant, use bone meal or mycorrhizae. If you use mycor in a hole right next to your plant’s roots, they will double in size, and whatever is healthy below the ground is healthy above the ground.
If this is daunting to you, remember that there are a whole lot of low-maintenance plants out there that don’t need a lot of care. You may need to water and fertilize them to get them established, but once they’re established, they pretty much look after themselves.
Try Our Plant Finder Application!
Blomidon Nurseries just recently launched a new plant finder app on our website. If you type in “hemlock,” for example, it will bring up all the types of hemlocks that we carry. If you click on a picture, it will bring you to a page that gives you the plant’s height, the spread, the zone, whether it likes sun or shade, etc. This tool can help you pick out a plant before you even come into the nursery.
You can also search for plants that fit a given set of criteria. Say you want a plant that likes full sun and will be less than ten feet tall and six feet wide. You can search that criteria and the plant finder will give you a list of plants that fit your specifications.
We’re very excited about this new app and even more excited to help you find the plants you choose in our 26 acres of nursery. Come on down to Blomidon Nurseries to start planting today