Proper Plant Site Selection is Key for Successful Plantings

Proper Plant Site Selection is Key for Successful Plantings

lady planting flowers

Nature Hills fields a lot of calls from our customers who are looking for something to grow in a specific spot in their yard...and with the huge palate of plants offered, there is really no better place to call than Nature Hills Nursery to find something that will work for you.  

Use the Nature Hills Plant Facts listed on every product page to help you determine if a plant will tolerate the conditions of the spot you have in mind.  During this post, you’ll get an in-depth understanding of the most important factors to consider.

Use Nature Hills Plant Facts to understand exactly what a specific plant can tolerate.  The Plant Facts provide details about the specific conditions a plant needs to survive and thrive (which is what we want for your new plant!)

Study Your Landscape to Make the Best Plant Selection

As you research your Plant Facts, you’ll want to think about specific growing conditions in the exact spot you want to place your new plant. For instance, if you plan on planting an Oak Tree in your yard, you’ll study how much sunlight your yard gets during different parts of the day.  Plants that list “Full Sun” in their Plant Facts won’t perform as well in areas of deep shade.

modern house landscape

Let’s think about a few typical site considerations that will really influence your decision when selecting a compatible plant for your landscape:

  • Are there places in your yard that flood easily?
  • Do you have any areas in your landscape that always dry up quickly after a rainstorm?  
  • Is your yard exposed to strong winter winds and drifting snow?
  • Is your home located in the city or urban environment?
  • Are you planting by a swimming pool? 
  • Do you live near a highway that uses lots of road salt in the winter to melt the ice -- how will that affect your plants? 

Critical Plant Site Selection Considerations

For your plants to grow and thrive, there are three things to pay close attention to:  Plant Hardiness, Soil Type, and the amount of Sun or Shade the plant will receive.  

critical plant site selection infographic

1. Know your USDA Growing Zone

Each plant needs to be able to tolerate the temperatures (both high and low) where it will be planted.  You’ll see the Growing Zone range listed on all the plants we offer for sale our website.  This will really take the guesswork out for you.  Some varieties may be more cold-hardy than others, so you can also search for plants by a Growing Zone, if you prefer. 

Find out your USDA Growing Zone on any product page right about the Plant Highlights. Just enter your Zip Code and tap "Find" to see your Growing Zone.

2. Know Your Soil Type

The type of soil you are growing in will dictate how much food and water you will need to add to your plant.  Get to know your soil type to be able to best select plants that will grow at your home.  

When it rains, does the water drain away?  Or does the water sit for a while before it soaks into the ground?  Generally, many plants will prefer “well drained soil”. 

For instance, heavy clay soils stay saturated after rains.  This really affects plants and how they grow, as it reduces the amount of oxygen in the soil and could cause the roots to rot.  Planting into clay soils will change the frequency of watering (less frequent in clay soils) as the soil will stay saturated. 

Choose plants to thrive in clay soils or can tolerate standing water.  There are plants that can tolerate clay soils better than others.

Plants for Clay Soils

There are workarounds to improve drainage in heavy clay soil.  In severe cases of heavy clay, it may be worthwhile to build up the area before planting.  If you build raised areas (called “berms”) to plant on, you will give the plants enough drainage to grow and develop.  

On the other hand, some homeowners have sandy soils.  Establishing new plants in soil that is very sandy requires a very different approach than the soils that are heavy clay.  

Planting into sandy soils will require more frequent watering, being careful that the plants don’t dry out, especially at the start.  Plants in sandy soils can dry out daily.  Eventually, newly planted plants will make new roots into that sandy soil and grow to find both food and water and become less dependent upon you for all of the water they need.  But you need to get them to that point before you cut back on your watering. 

When working with sandy soils, remember that when there has not been enough rainfall, additional moisture for some plants may be needed.  Selecting plants that need less water after they are established is the way to go.  Most of the plants that we offer that tolerate drier conditions are called “xeriscape” plants.  Be sure to look for those plants in the descriptions when making your selections.

3. Know the Amount of Sun and Shade.  

It’s very important to amount of sunlight or shade a plant will need is very important to know when making plant selections.  Look carefully where in your yard you want to plant and observe the amount of sunlight a plant will get in that spot.  

sun shade garden

Sometimes customers ask if we have a plant that gets “full sun” but that area of their yard may only get full sun for part of the day.  Look to see the direction your home faces.  Are there trees overhead that will affect the exposure to sunlight?  

Roses for instance, will need full sun for the best flowering.  If they get planted in an area that only receives a few hours of sunlight, the numbers of flowers is greatly reduced, the next round of flowers takes longer to develop, and the flowers are not as well developed.  Instead of selecting a rose bush to plant in that spot, maybe there is an everblooming Hydrangea or one of the new reblooming Azaleas that might be a better option for that location.

Plants for Partial Sun

Plants in the Wrong Spot Get Stressed

Plants that do not receive the proper growing conditions can become stressed.  Stressed plants will be susceptible to other problems too.  Any plant that is planted in the correct growing conditions for that particular species will be vigorous and healthy and will be able to ward off disease or insect infestations easier.  They can recover quicker and easier from problems should they arise.  Healthy plants need less chemicals or sprays to correct disease or insects. 

Plants that are planted at a site that they love will have better leaf color, flower best, set more fruit, have better form, and grow like they are supposed to.

As the saying goes… “Bloom where you are planted” … but if you plant me where I will do well, I will perform beautifully for you.

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