Right Plant, Right Place

“Nothing I Plant Ever Thrives and I Don’t Know Why.  I’m Never Going to Garden Again!”

Ever felt that way? I often do and I’ve been gardening for over 40 years! Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, the gardening gremlins seem to thwart our expectations.

If you missed our January meeting, you missed a treat and a huge opportunity to learn how to eliminate some notorious gardening mistakes. We’ve all made them. Planting the wrong plant in the wrong place at the wrong time and too close together, ad nauseam.

Rebecca Jordi, Nassau County Extension Director, UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture, “the lady with all the answers” and a personality bigger than life itself, gave us a crash course last week in choosing the right plant for the right place. Everyone present received a copy of The Florida Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design. That’s a mouthful and the book’s contents are even fuller! Let’s all thank UF/IFAS Extension Service for using our tax money so efficiently!

With Rebecca’s coaching we learned how to navigate the book and pick the right plant for the right place. Friends, Mother Nature just refuses to be fooled. A plant which needs good drainage is not going to thrive in a wet area and a truly tropical plant (They look so stunning at the nurseries, don’t they?!) will not survive year round in zone 8b, which is where we live.  And a “plant” that wants to be 30’ tall and 15’ wide will drive us mad trying to contain it when it’s planted 3’ from the house. Sure, it can be done – but plan on spending a lot of time pruning or worse yet, paying someone to do it!

Speaking of paying people, we also talked about “Myrtle Murder”. You know – what landscape maintenance companies like to commit under the guise of increasing a crepe myrtle’s bloom production. UF research indicates these trees (and they do want to be trees if we’d let them) bloom just as well if not pruned at all. So, why are we paying people to do the wrong thing?!

Don’t even get me started on pruning azaleas and loropetalum into hedges or mushroom balls, another craze started obviously by a demented Scissorhands! Why are we paying hard-earned money to lop off potential flowers?? Shouldn’t blooming plants be allowed to bloom? And trees allowed to stand tall?

Stay tuned. During next month’s meeting we will explore our uncontrollable urge to successfully grow roses in sandy soil, salty air and humidity comparable to an Amazon forest.