SIZE IS EVERYTHING. In any discussion of right plant/right spot — the ultimate size of a plant is the biggest factor.
Let’s begin this discussion in making sure that anything you plant is sited size-wise for the area it will consume upon full maturity.
Hundred-foot tall trees that grow 8-foot-wide and spaced 20-feet from each other in an 8-foot strip under power lines are not the right plants in the right spot by any means —although not that unusual, sadly. But neither is a 6-foot bush in front of a 4-foot window, so mature plant size is always the overriding tenant.
With that said, let’s start a two-week discussion on exactly what factors and conditions, along with your desires and lifestyle, ultimately determine what qualifies as having put “the right plant in the right spot.”
Let’s begin with the “Big Three” of conditions with the most impact on your plants ability to grow and thrive.
1. The soil
The medium in which your plant grows will greatly improve or impair your plants health, in fact, no matter how great a plant you bought, how good of a person placed it in the ground, how well you water it or how perfect the selection is for the area available, it is all for naught if your soil is wrong for the plant.
Does it require sandy soil, acidic alkaline, nutrient-poor or rich in food? This can be very dependent on soil structure or texture. What about organic material or mulch requirements? So the first thing you should do is get your soil tested.
In Clallam County, go to the Conservation District office, located at 228 West First Street. They are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays or call 360-775-3747 for more details.
In Jefferson County, go to the Conservation District office at 205 West Patison Street, Port Hadlock. They are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, or call 360-385-4105.
Make sure to denote what it is you are going to grow — deciduous trees are differ then conifers. Then your results will include what to do with your soil to make it ideal for growing. If your soil is not right, your plant will never be and soil is something you can amend, haul in or change.
We have all read the labels “prefers well drained soil,” “likes wet conditions,” “handles dry conditions,” “does not like its roots wet” — soil moisture is critical for great plant production.
So, when selecting a plant for a spot, consider whether the location is wet, dry, drains well, is soggy in the winter or is very windy and sunny. Then either select plants ideal for that spot or change that spot.
Sometimes I (and the client) really want a certain plant for an area with proper moisture conditions for optimum growth, so we alter the spot.
Dig a French drain in very wet soil, plant on a mound for better drainage, install water lines or add a lot of organic material for water retention, and then add mulch. Always have the soil moisture be perfect for what the plant requires, and again, you can arrange or change that.
Always determine not only the light conditions of the spot now but how it will be in the future.
Trees grow tall, houses get built right next to you and new bushes do not stay small.
Full sun means full sun.
Is it dark shade or dappled light, filtered light or light shade?
How will the plants you plant now, so cute in their little pots, be in 10 years, 15 or 20, and will that affect the sunlight then? And this, too, you can change by thinning surrounding branches or by thinning or cutting down existing trees.
You can also plant a grove for shade. So consider first The Big Three — soil, moisture and light — and either select the most well-suited plant or alter one or more of these for ultimate effect.
Next week: More.
This week, stay well all!
Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).