Master Gardener: Right plant, right place |

Master Gardener: Right plant, right place

Gwen Swenson-Hale
For Steamboat Pilot & Today


Right now is one of the most exciting times of the year for gardeners — when we acquire new things to plant in the ground. Even for gardeners who are planners, it can be hard not to fall prey to making impulse plant purchases.

The phrase “right plant, right place” means that when we plant plants in the right environment, we dramatically improve the chance of having a garden or landscape in which the plants are not only healthy and beautiful but also disease-free, and weeds are kept in check. The key to setting yourself — and your plants — up for success is to choose the right plants for the right places. This is true for all plants, from trees to turf.

So what are the main considerations?

Sun: How much sun does the plant need and at what time of day?

Water and drainage: How much water is required and how often? Unless you are doing all your watering by hand, you should plant plants with similar water needs together, so they are all happy.

Soil: What type of soil is ideal? Sandy? Lots of loam? Can the plant handle clay?

Hardiness: How much cold can the plant withstand or does it prefer? Note, that while most of your planting area will be one zone, many landscapes have micro-climates that can be very different.

Size of mature plant: This is more important for bushes and trees, but it’s also important to know if your marigolds are a 6-inch or 36-inch variety, and you can’t tell when they are in six-packs.

One good way to determine the ideal environment for your plant is to carefully read the plant label, which usually contains a lot of pertinent information.

The huge reward for taking the time to plant the right plant in the right place is that because the plant will be healthy and strong, it will be more likely that the plant can repel and/or withstand insects and disease, even discourage weeds.

Gwen Swenson-Hale is a 2021 Master Gardener graduate. She moved full-time to Steamboat Springs in 2018 and is delighted to have a new landscape to fill with the right plants.

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