Steele: Website offers plant options

Use the Okanagan Xeriscape Association plant database at okanaganxeriscape.org.

Eriophyllum lanatum (common woolly sunflower) is in the Okanagan Xeriscape Association plant database. It attracts pollinators

I gave a free presentation to gardeners at the downtown library last Tuesday.

Most of those who came did so the invitation I extended to everyone here, in my column last week. I was surprised how many hadn’t used the Okanagan Xeriscape Association plant database at okanaganxeriscape.org.

There was great excitement when I demonstrated it. People realized how effective it is for finding plants that suit conditions in their gardens plus the aesthetics they want.

Here are some pointers on how to use this excellent online website tool.

Begin by reading the plant database explanation page.

There are 23 search criteria creating great versatility for searches.

These include13 special features such as attracts hummingbirds, attracts pollinators, food for birds, deer resistant, erosion control, fall colour, and native to the Okanagan.

The usual place to begin is with plant type—annual, bulb, ground cover, ornamental grass, perennial, shrub, tree or vine.

Some plants are listed in more than one category.

All plants in the database are hardy to Zone 6. If you live in a colder zone, you would select the hardiness zone you live in. (e.g. Joe Rich residents would select Zone 4. Then the search results will only include plants from Zones 1 to 4.)

There are three categories of water needs and three categories of light requirements. You must read the explanation page to understand these various options.

For example, if you wanted plants that would survive with almost no supplemental irrigation once they are established, you would choose the ‘dry’ category under water requirements.

If space is a concern the search can be limited by a range of spread and/or height.

The database is an excellent tool for ensuring that you have something blooming in every month of the growing season.

If you have a small space and want something that blooms for a long period, you can select the desired months.

For example, a perennial blooming in June, July, August, and September yields a list of 32 plants.

The search could be refined by choosing a bloom colour. (e.g. yellow yields eight results)

At any time you can click on any plant name or picture in the list to open up a full page with all the information on that plant plus pictures.

Click on the main picture which will open to full size and lead to enlargements of any other photos on the page.

I have also added notes about the plant.

There are now six valley nurseries advertising on the plant database.

If they carry the plant selected, their name will appear under ‘Nurseries’ with a link to their website and an icon to the complete list of all plants in the database that they carry.

The list automatically sorts by common name.

To sort by Latin name, click on the heading ‘Latin Name.’

Then all plants in the same species, for example Gaillardia, will appear together in the list.

The free database was created in 2009 with funding from the Okanagan Basin water board.

Donations and OXA memberships fund ongoing additions to it.