Choose your ‘team’ wisely – thoughful plant selection is key to success

The spring season must be getting closer after the wacky weather of last weekend. We had gorgeous spring time weather late last week culminating with a beautiful Saturday, torrential rains and tornado warnings on Sunday night and winter snow on Monday. We wonder why it is a little more challenging to garden in Oklahoma and then we get a classic wacky mix of weather that reminds us why it is so great to be a human where you can go inside and not have to stay outside immersed in the full weather experience our plants have to survive. Your plants don’t have the luxury of selecting their environment. They get to deal with the environment and conditions where you plant them so that is why it is important for you select the right plants for the various conditions in your yard to improve the chances of gardening success. Spend a little extra time reading the labels, visiting with the staff at your local nursery or garden center or reading local or regional information in books or on the internet. Use these resources to select sun loving plants for sunny areas,  shade loving plants for shady areas, moisture loving plants for damp or poorly drained areas, tall plants for the back of beds or the center of round beds and short plants for borders.

The baseball season is just starting and the team manager has to select the player with the right skills to be the pitcher, the catcher, the shortstop and the other six positions. He also has to decide the batting order and make other decisions that often decide the success of the team. Think of yourself as your garden team manager. The more time and attention you invest into planning and selecting the right plant material the more likely you are to enjoy success in your garden. The key plant performance issues to consider include light, soil type, drainage and soil acidity or PH. Study the amount of light – full sun, full shade or the type of partial sun where you want to plant. Your soil type is important. Study whether you have a tight clay soil or loose, sandy soil or a good loam type soil.  Is the soil well drained or does water stand for a while after rains? Have you had a soil test and is the soil acidic or is it one of our more common alkaline soils? After you consider the plant survival and productivity conditions consider what size of plant you want to grow. Do you need a tree, a shrub, a vine or groundcover? Do you want annuals that generally produce more flowers and color or perennials that take less attention and come back year after year but generally only produce flowers or color for a few weeks of each year? What color foliage or flowers do you want to create the design you are envisioning? We need to wait another 4 to 6 weeks to plant most of our spring color plants but you can use this time to prepare your flowerbeds and to study and plan what you want to plant where.

This is the season for applying the pre-emergent weed killers to your lawn to kill crabgrass and summer weeds before they germinate. Now is the time to plant potatoes, onions and the rest of your cool season vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and radishes. If you want to pick your own strawberries, rhubarb, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or any other berries, now is a great time to plant them. Fertilize your trees and shrubs and finish pruning all your woody plant material except for spring flowering shrubs.

Let’s hope for more beautiful spring weather and then use those pretty days to get outside and soak up some sun working in your garden.

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