Friday, December 28, 2018

Choosing the Best Seeds and Plants for Your Garden by Joyce D’Agostino

For gardeners, this time of year brings exciting arrivals to your mailbox – the new seed and plant catalogs. Sometimes the selections are so tempting that you might want to break your budget to buy as many of the wonderful varieties as possible.

Before you begin placing your orders or making the visits to your garden centers, an important rule is choosing the “right plant for the right place” which will bring more enjoyment and success. Even if you are an experienced gardener in our climate, there may be some plants that you want to try and not certain if they are appropriate for your region.

Begin by learning what the USDA Hardiness Zone is for your city.  In some states, such as here in Colorado, there are often multiple climates and growing zones. The USDA website makes it very easy for you to get your specific hardiness zone by just typing in your zip code.

Once you know this, then as you browse your seed catalogs, you can make note if something you wish to purchase is suggested for your area. This is very important information because choosing a seed or plant that is not recommended for your zone may result in poor results or failure.  Avoid purchasing from any source that doesn’t give you specific zones in which the plant will thrive.

We also often hear from people who are new to the state of Colorado and have gardened in other climates but need a good source of information and advice to start their landscapes and gardens here. One good place to begin is with the PlantSelect website. This excellent, scientifically based site provides a wealth of information for plants that have been tested by Colorado State University in tandem with The Denver Botanic Gardens. The plants that make the yearly lists have proven successful for eight criteria including being habitat friendly, water wise, non-invasive, and long-lasting beauty. The PlantSelect site is a useful “toolbox” of information for all gardeners, whether new or experienced. PlantSelect also provides some information for native plants as well:

Another great source of information for growing here in our region, including bulletins that mention suggested plant varieties can be found at this site: For example if you plan to add strawberries to your garden this year there is a bulletin for with growing tips as well as specific varieties that have been tested to be successful for our climate.

Many local independent garden centers also offer a great source of healthy, well suited plants for your climate as well as trained employees that can guide you and answer your questions. If you still need more help or information, contact your local Colorado county extension office.

Using the tips and tools above may help you have your best garden ever this year!