Right Plant, Right Place!
Plants — as Unique as People
by Cheryl Buckwalter
Plants, like people, have genes that make each type unique, and each type
requires certain conditions to thrive. Some thrive in full sun with little
water, while others would wither and perish. To help you select the right plants
for your garden — referred to as the “Right Plant for the Right Place” — there
are three “must knows”:
- 1. How wide and tall will the plant be when it is mature?
- Determine how much space you have for the plant. If your planting bed in
only 3 feet wide, then select a plant that will be about that wide when it
is fully grown.
- 2. How much sun exposure does the plant require? To answer this
question, we first need to understand what “sun exposure” means relative to
- Full sun — Plant requires direct
sunlight for most of the day.
- Full sun or part shade — Plant will
do well in direct sun for most of the day or shade for part of the day and
can tolerate the hot afternoon sun.
- Part shade — Plant prefers light
shade (such as dappled sun shining through the canopy of a tree) and will
tolerate morning sun exposure but must be protected from the hot afternoon
- Part shade or shade — Plant will do
well in dappled shade or in full shade. It will tolerate some morning sun,
but it will not tolerate afternoon sun.
- Shade — Plant requires full shade
and never receives direct sun. (Visit
http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu for more information.)
Next, walk through your garden in the morning, middle of the day, and
afternoon. How much sun does each planting area receive based on the
- 3. How much water does the plant require? All plants – even
drought-tolerant plants - need regular water when they are first planted and
during the time when they are getting established in your garden. Once
established, low water-use plants can be watered less frequently but deeply
enough for the water to soak into the entire root area, which is at least as
wide as the “plant” aboveground.
- Group plants together with the same water and sun requirements. For
example, plants that thrive in full sun and require low amounts of water
will be in one area and on the same watering schedule. Plants are as unique
as people. To select the Right Plant for the Right Place, read the
description on the nursery container or ask the nursery salesperson how much
sun and water each plant needs.
Here are some more in depth articles on specific RFL topics that you might
find of interest:
RFL Inspiration Garden
Mulch, Grasscycling, and Compost
Fertilize Naturally — Is Feeding
Frenzy Really Needed?
Plant Trees, Save Energy!
Right Plant, Right Place!
Take Action to Save Water Outdoors…
Lawn Care: How Green is Your Grass?
Rethink Your Lawn
Pests Bugging You?
River-Friendly Pest Control
Managing Common Pests
Interview about RFL (MP3)
Choose California natives first
Don't Blow It!
Reducing Outdoor Asthma
Watch the YouTube video
Flow - Make Your Landscape Act Like a Sponge"
to learn about the importance of landscaping to stormwater quality.
Click on any section to learn more