Things to Know
Plants are living things that have unique requirements for survival and vigor. You might be able to get away with poufy floral chintz curtains in your mid-century modern home, but a wrong plant in the wrong place won’t last long, and can be a lot of work trying to keep it alive.
Before you purchase any plants, investigate a few things first:
1. Know your soil. There is no sense in purchasing a lovely azalea when you have heavy clay, alkaline soil conditions. You will be in a constant battle while the azalea dies a slow death. Purchase plants that thrive in your conditions. Yes, there are plants that thrive in clay, alkaline conditions. If you must have an azalea and you live in an environment with compatible temperature extremes, then build a raised bed, or use a large pot, where you can manipulate the soil to the azalea’s liking.
2. Know your environment. Will the plant be growing in shade, full sun, or somewhere in between? What are the temperature extremes? Do your winter temperatures get below freezing? Do you have hot summers? Do you live in a windy area? Will the plant’s ultimate size be appropriate?
3. Know the water needs of the plant. Different plants have different water needs. Group plants with the same water needs together so that when you water you will not have to overwater some plants to meet the needs of others or vice versa.
The number of plant choices may seem completely intimidating, but don't worry. The limiting factors of your yard will actually be a benefit for a change.
Photo courtesy of the Theodore Payne Foundation