The variation in plant tags in the nursery industry are not doing the gardener any favors. There is no consistency in the "advice" that is provided. Re-sellers take for granted that the tags from the wholesale grower are accurate and useful.
It is time that the consumer go armed with the correct information when purchasing plants. Until the industry cleans up the trash pile of plant tags we need to carefully guard our discretionary dollars for gardening by planning ahead and research growing information from knowledgeable sources.
You know more about your garden and the condition of the essential elements of water, light, and soil than anyone. There is no nurseryman, horticulturist, or landscaper who can fill in that information for you. They don't know how many different soil types that are spread across your garden, or whether you have a micro-climate in one corner of your property that supports a higher growing zone. Wind is another element that needs to be taken into consideration, does the addition of structures in your garden help or hurt?
I am not going to try and design a plant tag that would include everything I think is needed, but I would like to see the following:
* Botanical Name
* Hardiness Zone
* Height and spread after three years
* Hours of sun required to bloom
* Root depth
* Average month(s) of bloom and length of bloom
* Soil moisture
( please find a better way to describe; wet,damp, moist)
* Age of plant and life expectancy
* Propagation information ( seed, division, cutting)
* Grower information
I excluded "spacing" of plants on this list because I fall into a category of gardeners that ignore much of the spacing recommendations. It is far more important to understand root depth , so you limit root competition based on the soil level at which a plant is drawing nutrients.
The last item on my wish list may seem irrelevant to some, but it is time gardeners start caring about where the plant was grown. Whole sale growers are not all the same. The greenhouse practices are important knowledge that can protect your garden and yourself. Because this information is seldom available at retail nurseries, I employ a best practice by removing a new plant from the nursery pot and washing the old soil from the roots in a bucket. I make sure to have clean water on hand to then place the plant in while preparing a home for the new arrival. This may seem obsessive, but given the latest research on herbicides, I will continue to err on the side of caution. Purchasing plants from local growers you have gotten to know and trust is the best solution.
Plant tags are important information for the gardener, but even more important is for you to do your due diligence before you spend those gardening dollars.
Maine has its challenges when it comes to gardening. The growing season is six months, but so much of it is not suitable for some heat loving plants. It is all about timing and identifying the micro climates in your yard.
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