Burnett: Do your homework before sticking a plant in the ground

I advise you to take time to research prior to making your choices.

I do refer to this advice often but I believe it is one of the most important principles in gardening and landscaping so it bears saying again and again—“right plant, right place.”

Many of you will be shopping for plants to enhance your landscape and I advise you to take time to research prior to making your choices.

The first thing you might do is read the tag that is attached to the plant.

This is helpful as a loose guideline, but remember many of these tags are written for climates and conditions other than ours.

It is so important to get some reliable local knowledge of trees and shrubs to learn just how large a species will get and what conditions it does best in.

Another way to do it is to take time and go into some established neighbourhoods where you will find out just how large some of these plants can get.

For instance, check out the London plane trees and notice they can get to 80-feet tall in no time flat.

Norway maples as well as certain oaks and horse chestnuts will also get out of hand and have no place in a small yard.

There are some trees that are considered small but most of these can reach 25 feet or more in height.

The showy mountain ash, Japanese maple, Katsura and flowering plum are a few species that will do for smaller spaces and there are several flowering shrubs that are sometimes grafted onto a standard trunk to form small trees that fit the bill.

Examples of these are Nishiki willow, Miss Kim lilacs and ninebark.

Size is just one factor to consider when choosing a tree or shrub for the garden.

It must be winter hardy for our area and nurseries do have a habit of bringing in marginal plants that won’t make it through the winter. I have seen this often in cold prairie areas where sellers like to push the envelope but it happens everywhere.

I don’t blame people for trying marginal plants.

I have a laurel and an Acuba in my garden and I know if we have an unusually cold winter I may lose them.

I’m fine with that because I’m having fun, but the average purchaser wants more reliability, so again good local knowledge is important in this case.

Our soil conditions tend to be on the alkaline side so plants such as rhododendrons and blueberries need special attention to acidify the planting area on a regular basis.

Exposure is also a consideration especially when it comes to shrubs.

Planting a sun loving plant in the shade will only be a discouraging experience.

Think about all of the above when choosing a new plant for the garden and you won’t be disappointed.


The Kelowna Garden Club annual plant sale take place at the Guisachan Heritage Garden, 1050 Cameron Rd., on Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There will be perennials, annuals, grasses, bulbs, vegetables, small shrubs, trees and much, much more for sale.

In addition, there will be a xeriscape display and xeriscape plants for sale.

Master gardeners will be present to answer gardening questions as well.

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