Looking for the Perfect Plant

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
Note: Concerning our upcoming Pecan Grafting Workshop in last week’s article, the correct day and time is THURSDAY, April 20th at 6:30 PM at the Payne County Expo Center.

One of the most common questions horticulturists hear is “what is the ideal plant for X location?” Alas, if only it were that easy to answer. The short answer is it depends. It probably comes as no surprise that this is not the answer most people are looking for, but it is the reality. Aside from asking an expert (and enduring 20 questions to help narrow the search), how does a novice determine which plants to choose for specific sites?

A good place to begin is finding plants that appeal to you growing in similar environmental conditions to your own site. Explore the area and see what draws you to the landscape. The most important factor in choosing plants is the amount of available sunlight. In general, landscape plants are fairly tolerant of some variation in light conditions although most perform best under a fairly limited range of light, full sun, partial shade, etc.

For landscape plantings adjacent to buildings, observance of which side a building a plant is growing on can offer a good hint for light preferences. Plants that excel on the south and west sides of buildings tend to do well in hot sunny conditions. Plants prospering on the north or east side of buildings indicates their ability to tolerate shade. Site specific conditions are referred to as microclimate.

Searching for plants that thrive in similar soil conditions is also important. Most plants are fairly tolerant of a wide range of soils, within reason of course. For Payne County residents, soils very high in clay are those most limiting to healthy landscape plant growth. On the other extreme are the sandy soils adjacent to the Cimarron River near Perkins.

Searching for plants can be fun, but it can also be frustrating if you cannot identify the plants you like when you see them growing in the landscape. This is where places like
The Botanic Garden at OSU come in handy. The Botanic Garden is a marvelous place to see plants growing in the landscape, especially since they are labeled properly for easy identification. The Botanic Garden is most well known as the home of OSU’s Oklahoma Gardening public television program.

The Botanic Garden is located on the west side of Stillwater and can be accessed (with a short walk) from the entrance on the 3300 block of W.6th. For those unable to make the ¼ mile walk, the garden can also be accessed from the north entrance at 3425 W. Virginia. This entrance is open from 8AM to 5PM Monday thru Friday and from 10-3 on the first and third Saturday of every month.

For more information of this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies
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