May is the month for going to Nurseries and Garden Centers looking for what’s new. Often something catches your eye and you just have to have it. Then you get it home and try and find a place to put it! Admit it, we’ve all done it once or twice. This is exactly the opposite of how you should make plant purchases.
Even when the purchase isn’t spontaneous, sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Maybe your new plant doesn’t bloom as you expected or is way too large or small for the spot. It may even die. We’ve all experienced this
The easiest way to avoid disappointing plant choices is to buy an appropriate plant in the first place. “Right plant – right place” is the key. This is easier to do than you may think. It just requires a little preparation before you go plant shopping.
The first step is deciding where you want to put a new plant, shrub, or tree. Whether it’s one plant, a planter, or a whole bed you need a plan BEFORE you go to the nursery.
The second step is knowing what growing conditions you have starting with your growing zone. In W.N.Y. that can be from a zone 4 to a 6 (for most of us, plants for zone 5 are safe for -10 to -20 degrees). In the hills in the Southern Tier it can be zone 4, parts of the city can be a 6. For information on your growing zone check out the new growing zone map at: www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov
Once you’ve decided where you want to put a plant you’re ready for the third step which is determining the specific growing conditions of that site. How much sun does it get? Is the soil on that site moist or dry? Is it windy? Do you know the pH of the soil? What size should the plant be? The final size is extremely important. You don’t want to plant a shrub that gets 10 feet tall under a window 4 ft. from the ground.
Once you have your plan it’s time for the fourth step: buying the plants. There are many ways to get new plants. You can go to a nursery or garden center, buy from a catalogue, farmers market or local plant sale. Catalogues are a great source of information, but are often much more expensive than buying locally. The other advantage to buying locally is you can actually see the condition of the plant and the plant will probably be much larger than those delivered through the mail. When at a nursery you can also ask questions.
The most important part of buying a plant is checking the information on the tag as to its growing requirements and final size. If it doesn’t have a tag, ask for this information. Matching the plant’s needs with your site is the key. Remember putting the right plant in the right place will help you cut down on problems and save time and money.
Try Planting a Few Native Plants!
One of the strongest movements in home gardening is growing Native Plants. These are plants that have evolved in a particular area and, therefore, grow there naturally. No matter what growing conditions you have, there’s a Native that will thrive there. Given the right spot Natives are easy to grow and relatively pest free.
Another advantage to growing Natives is that they are helpful to the natural balance. Birds, butterflies, pollinators and other insects rely on Natives for food. By adding a few Natives to your garden you are helping nature. Since I’ve been growing more Natives, the pest and disease problems in my garden have almost been eliminated. There are so many beneficial insects and birds that are attracted to my garden that they take care of my garden for me by eating the bad insects like larva, aphids!
We are lucky to live in an area where Natives are readily available. Some of the local nurseries that carry a good selection of Natives are:
Amanda’s Garden in Springwater N.Y. (just south of Letchworth). They propagate over 100 varieties of Natives and have a great website www.amandagarden.com
Johnson’s Nursery, Rt. 20A, East of E. Aurora, has a particularly large selection of Native trees and shrubs as well as perennials.
Murray Brothers on Rt. 20A between E. Aurora and Orchard Park carries over 25 varieties of Native perennials as well as a good selection of Native trees and shrubs.
Lockwood’s on Clark St. in Hamburg has been steadily increasing their stock of Natives with the help of Sally Cunningham.
Adam’s on Genesee St. in Lancaster also has a good selection.
Ninth Annual Perennial Sale and Native Plant Sale hosted by Lessons from Nature
Saturday, May 19 from 9 – 2, I will be having a perennial sale at my home which will include a large selection of Natives grown in my gardens. We are located at 170 Pine St., E Aurora, corner of Pine & Lawrence. It’s a great way to get healthy, large divisions for a reasonable price…From my gardens to yours!