Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Let's Review: Read the Label

Read the label.
Wherever you buy your plant, it will likely have a plant tag or a label stuck in the soil. This is not for decoration. It's important to pay attention to the information on it. It can be the difference between your delight or your disappointment. I'll tell you why. That tag lets you know under what conditions your plant will thrive such as full sun (6 or more hours of sun) or full shade. This is probably the most important fact on the label because if you put a shade plant (such as a fern) in the full sun, it will die a miserable death. And if you put a tomato plant in full shade, you'll go all summer without a single piece of fruit.  

The label will also tell you the dimensions of the plant when it reaches full size, which can guide you in selecting the proper size pot. It will also tell you the plant's hardiness zone. If it's a perennial and you have hopes of it surviving the winter, be sure it's hardy to your zone. I usually subtract two zones because plants in pots are more exposed to the elements. Here in Virginia, it's zone 7 so if I have any hopes for a plant to return the following year, I look for those that have a zone of 5.  
There's good information here.

Finally, if it's a flowering plant you're looking at, the tag will tell you its bloom season. With annuals, you can rely on blooms the entire season. But with perennials, you'll want to read the label closely. Most (not all) perennials will only bloom for a couple months--it might be spring, early summer, mid summer, late summer, or fall. You can plan accordingly and buy different types of flowering perennials so that you can have staggered blooms. I often mix flowering perennials with annuals so that I'll always have something in bloom.  But keep in mind, flowers aren't everything. I've learned to appreciate interesting foliage, which can often be beautiful all on its own.

So read that label and give your plant the best possible chance to thrive.

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books

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