Right plant, right place

  • Pamela Corle-Bennett
  • Contributing Writer
12:00 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9, 2015

Fall is a good time for planting, and my mantra is “right plant, right location!” What does this mean to the gardener?

It means the difference between success and failure. It means the difference between a little bit of work and a lot of work.

It means that you will be very happy with the plant that you have selected, because it will be there for a long time.

How many of you approach planting a new plant based on the fact that you have a specific location in the garden that needs a plant? I would guess that not all of you approach it this way.

Actually, I don’t either. I hit the garden stores in the spring feeling all excited and pumped up for a new season, ready to buy.

After I load up the car, take my plant goodies home and set them by the patio, I put my hands on my hips and say, “Hmmm, now where will I put X, Y, Z?”

Sound familiar?

We should approach putting in a new plant based on a spot in the yard that we have determined could use a new plant. Evaluate that spot, check out the soil type and drainage, the sun, shade and other environmental variables, and then go and select a plant that will be suitable for that site.

Why don’t we do that? I guess it’s just easier to buy a plant and then decide where it will go, right?

And this system still works as long as you give the plant the right location in the landscape where it will thrive. Otherwise, you will have to baby it or prune it or even transplant it.

The truth is it’s really hard not to go a little crazy in the spring when you see a bunch of flowers and green and all of the new plant growth at the garden stores. You just can’t resist.

Back to the moral of the story: right plant, right location. If you put a plant in the recommended location in your garden, then it’s going to be quite happy and will thrive.

Let’s say you have a plant such as coneflower that likes dry soil and full sun and you plant it in heavy dry shade. The dry part will be just fine, but you may not get as many blooms as you had hoped for.

And if you put a plant that doesn’t tolerate wet soils such as a coral bell in wet soil, it’s likely to die in the near future.

Or let’s say you put a blue spruce that gets around 75 foot tall up near the house? Either you will be pruning on a regular basis to keep it under control or you will eventually take it out because it’s way too big for that site.

Therefore, despite the fact that have a bunch of plants and you have to figure out where to put them, at least give it some thought and put them in a location where they will be happy.

Even though I will continue to buy plants and then figure out where to put them, I will at least promise to put them in a good location so that I don’ t have to worry about them.