Don’t you just love stepping into a nursery and seeing all the plant options? It’s easy to quickly fill up your cart with plants of different colors and textures. Here’s a tip for when you get home — don’t throw away that little plant tag! Even if it’s a plant you’ve added to your garden before, new varieties of a plant species may require different conditions for optimal growth.
That little plant tag has all the information needed to make sure you place your plant in an area that allows it to thrive. Here’s how to read a plant tag so that you’re selecting the correct plants that can grow in our climate, in the shady parts of your yard, or the high moisture areas.
Plant Tags Have Important Information
1. Plant Name
The easiest to understand on a plant tag, its name. Plants tags often include the common and scientific Latin name. The Latin name will include the family name first, then the species or variety’s name.
For example, a common annual to purchase is the petunia. It comes in many varieties or hybrids. The Scientific name is Petunia x hybrida.
2. Thermometer Symbol or Hardiness Zone
This is probably the most important symbols to look at when picking out plant in the Twin Cities area. Most nurseries stock plants that will survive in our climate, but the hardiness zone is especially important when creating perennial gardens in your yard. The hardiness zone is the minimum winter temperature that your plant can survive. Some tags will provide the actual temperature.
The Twin Cities is officially Zone 4b, which mean plants will need to be hardy to -25 to -20°F. However, this doesn’t mean that you must use plants with the official zone 4 designation. The nursey stock will range from zone 2–5 and most of these plants will do well in our landscapes. In fact, around half of all the shrubs and perennials that the Rock Solid landscape team use are zone 3 plants, which excel in our climate.
For annuals, the thermometer symbol assumes that you’re planting in the ground. Ground soil is better insulated and keeps the warmth better than the soil in potted plant or boxes. Your potted plants should be brought inside if the weather is too cold.
3. Sun Symbol
The sun on your plant tag is an important symbol for determining where in your yard to place your new plant. Plants either require full sun, partial sun, or full shade.
- Full sun — the sun symbol is completely yellow. These plants require at least six hours of sun a day, preferably afternoon sun. Examples of annuals that prefer full sun include petunias and zinnias.
- Part sun — the sun symbol is half yellow/half dark. These plants require at least three hours of sun or a combination of morning and afternoon sun. Examples of partial-sun annuals include lobelia and pansies.
- Full shade — the sun symbol is shaded in. These plants require less than three hours of sun per day and thrive best with little to no-sun. These plants can’t tolerate heat and prefer moist soil. Impatiens and certain varieties of begonias are example of full shade annuals.
4. Raindrop Symbol or Watering Requirements
Another important factor to consider for the location of your new plants. The water requirements are either written out or indicated by a raindrop symbol.
- One raindrop means that your plant prefers dry or well-drained soil. You should allow the soil to dry completely between waterings.
- Two raindrops mean normal watering conditions. Allow only the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again.
- Three raindrops mean a thirsty plant. Do not let your soil dry out, but avoid pooling water.
If you’ve planted a new plant and it isn’t thriving, we suggest picking up a soil moisture gauge to see if it is getting the required amount of moisture to establish strong roots. Also, new plants typically require daily watering for the first 3-4 months as they establish their root systems. Potted plants will require regular watering.
5. Arrows or Spacing Symbol
The arrows on a plant tag indicate the height and width of your new plant when it is mature. This will help you space your plants out correctly. If you plant too close together, your plants will not grow to its full potential. Often, the tag will also mention if your mature plant will be rounding, trailing or fully upright.
6. Other Important Information
- Bloom Time — tells you when your plant blooms. To have blooms or vibrant color all season long, choose plants with varying bloom times.
- Fertilizer — Provides detail of when and how often to fertilize.
- Use or Placement — Tells you if the plant should be a border plant, can thrive in a container, or should be used as a backdrop.
- Care — one of the most important reasons to keep your plant tag, this will help you determine if and when to deadhead the blooms or prune your perennials.
As you can see from the list above your plant tag is more important than you think. It holds the keys to keeping your plant healthy and thriving. You’ve invested a lot in your plants, keeping them healthy protects that investment. Plus, a healthy garden instantly adds curb appeal to your home.
Ready to add color and curb appeal to your yard, but still not sure which plants to choose? One of our design experts would love to come chat and help create your dream yard. We can help select the right perennials that will thrive in different locations in your yard. Contact us today to book your free estimate.