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Choosing the Right Plant for the Right Place

Flatwoods Plum from the UF/IFAS Demo Garden Sumter County-photo by L. Sanderson

If you have visited the UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County office in Bushnell, you have perhaps meandered through the demonstration garden just outside our front door.

UF/IFAS Demonstration Garden in Sumter County

We have a variety of gardens including our 35 mph Garden which demonstrates color and impact at 35 mph.  The Native Plant Garden showcases native plants you can include in your garden, and the Trial Garden tests plants for our area.  Our Herb garden will include culinary and aromatic herbs, and the Vegetable Garden demonstrates and tests varieties in our Florida weather year round.  Many Sumter County Master Gardeners have dedicated many hours of volunteer time to updating and maintaining the garden.

We have pondered the design of the garden probably much the way that you do in your landscape.  Our decisions are based on Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Principle #1:  Right Plant, Right Place.  We evaluate the landscape, the needs we have for specific garden areas, and make selections for those areas.

Choosing the Right Plant for the Right Place

Choosing the right plants and planting them in your garden in the place best-suited for them leads to a healthy, sustainable landscape.  The selection of plants for our demonstration garden comes from a clear understanding of the limitations and challenges in our landscape.  The garden areas that saw the most changes are areas of full sun to part sun, and plants selected for those areas need to be able to tolerate the sun and heat of central Florida.

As you begin considering plants you would like to add to your landscape, observe the movement of sun in your landscape.  Not all areas of your landscape’s sun are the same.  Morning eastern sun is the coolest sun of the day.  Plants that prefer part sun are best in the eastern sun.  Afternoon western sun is the hottest sun of the day.  Plants selected for areas receiving western sun should prefer mid-to-late day heat and full, hot sun.

Add Deciduous Trees

One way you can make impact to your landscape is through selection of deciduous trees.  Reduce your electric bill by planting deciduous trees on the south-western to western sides of your home.  The leaves of deciduous trees will shade your home from hot sun reducing  your cooling costs in the summer.  After leaves have fallen, the sun peaks through those open tree limbs and warms your home, reducing your heating costs. Not only do they conserve energy, trees planted in groupings can provide more cooling effect on the landscape.  Trees provide instant impact to your landscape in groups or as a focal point.

Plant in Mass

Other considerations for impact include using plantings in masses.  Create masses of plantings with repetition of color and texture which draw the viewer’s eye throughout the garden.  Group plants in threes, fives and sevens, and repeating in other areas of the landscape.  In my own gardens of the past, this seemed to be my personal struggle being more of a plant collector.  In a well-designed landscape, masses and layers of height in a garden create interest and look more deliberate.

For More Info

Take time to analyze your landscape by looking through “The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook” to read more about Right Plant, Right Place and the other eight principles of Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM.  You can also read the Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM  Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design to get ideas from sample designs and peruse pages of plants.

UF/IFAS Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin.

 

 

 

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