A healthy garden starts with healthy plants. Meeting their growth requirements are as important to plants as a healthy home is to you. While impulse buying might be tempting, before you buy is the time to determine whether the plant you want is the right one for your garden. That hosta might look wonderful in the pot at the garden center, but how will it fare once you get it home? You can eliminate most problems, and keep your garden and landscape low maintenance by knowing exactly what the conditions are in your garden and what requirements your plant of choice will need to thrive.
Here are the most important things to consider when selecting plants for your garden.
Plants, like all living things, have temperature and water requirements specific to each one. The first thing to do is know your hardiness zone by the most current observations. The current USDA map that has been in use since 1990 has been rendered obsolete by the global warming trend. The best reference, linked above, has been provided by the Arbor Day Foundation.
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You can generally grow plants in zones that have lower numbers than yours but they will not be winter hardy in higher zones. For example, plants that are winter hardy in Zone 7 will not be hardy in Zone 5. The heat of higher zones may be too hot for plants from lower zones, too. The plant will usually have a range that is best for maximum growth requirements.
You can find this information on plant databases, such as the PLANTS Database of the USDA. Edible plants usually are only sold in the zones in which they grow. If you are starting from seed, the appropriate growing zones are listed on the back of the package.
It is also important to consider a micro-climate that may influence your plant. If it is hotter or colder or perhaps wetter or drier in your garden spot, you will have to adjust your zone accordingly.