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Tips for buying successful landscape plants

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For plant lovers, nothing is more frustrating than going to the trouble and expense of choosing, buying and planting a new specimen, only to have it die. Feel like you have a brown thumb? It could be more than you are not selecting the right plant for your climate, especially when you consider that nurseries carry many, many plants not suitable for your area.

DON’T TRUST PLANT NURSERIES

Always assume they do not know what plant is suitable for your particular situation, unless they ask you the following questions:

1. What is the average low temperature for your area? (Look this up online before you shop.)

2. How much space do you have for the plant? (Buying a plant that matures to 8 feet tall and wide won’t work if your planting spot is only 3 feet wide.)

3. What orientation is your planting spot? (If it gets all day sun and the plant needs part shade – you have a problem.)

4. How much maintenance will you tolerate? (Finding out the plant needs regular attendance would be a problem if you want something easy care.)

Questions you should ask, or research, before you buy anything:

1. What is the country of origin? (I can almost guarantee a plant from South America will struggle in the southwestern deserts.)

2. Can it tolerate my soil type? (Know what kind of soil you have. Sand, clay, high pH, low pH?)

3. What kind of disease and insects problems is the species prone to? (This can be easily avoided if you plant natives.)

4. How much water does it need? (If you want a low water use plant for desert landscapes, buy natives. Otherwise, be prepared to water a lot.)

Doing your homework is always a good plan. Avoid buying a plant just because it looks “pretty”, unless you plan on enjoying it for a few weeks, like a gift plant, and throwing it away.

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