Minimize Gardening Trial and Error with FFL

One of the toughest parts of gardening is when a plant doesn’t thrive the way you had hoped. What went wrong? Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Principle #1: Right Plant, Right Place is a great place to start for minimizing garden trial and error.

A flagstone path ends at a bronze tortoise sculpture in a deeply shaded garden full of green plants
Having a shady yard doesn’t mean you can’t have a lush garden. It’s all in the right choice of plants.

The nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ provide guidance for creating a home landscape that works with our environment and usually minimizes cost and effort when it comes to maintenance. The first principle is “right plant, right place.”

First, know your location

How well your plants perform depends in great part on whether you choose the right plants for your landscape. Start by thinking about the characteristics of the site you intend to plant in. Some important questions to consider when selecting plants are:

  • How much sunlight does the area receive?
  • What type of soil is there?
  • Does water accumulate in the area?
  • Will plants have space to spread or do you need something that remains compact?

Additionally, look for plants that are not only suited to your site, but are also low-maintenance. This means they need minimal irrigation, fertilization, or pest control (once they’re established, of course).

By choosing the right plant for the right place, you can help create a Florida-Friendly landscape that looks great but also conserves water and protects natural resources.

Know your plants

Knowing the care requirements of plants is another part of this principle. It’s important to keep in mind all of the needs—including future needs—of the plants you are selecting.

Questions to ask about the potential plant selection:

Delicate pink orchid like flower on the woody branch of a tree
This Hong Kong orchid tree is lovely, but can’t handle the cool winter temperatures of North Florida. By Forest and Kim Starr (CC-BY-3.0).
  • What kind of sunlight levels does the plant require: full sun, partial sun, or shade?
  • What is the USDA hardiness zone requirement for the plant? Does it handle frost? Or extreme heat?
  • How much space will the plant need once it reaches maturity? Take into accound both the height and width.
  • What type of soil is best for the plant you are selecting?

Doing a little research before shopping for new plants will not only help you create a thriving landscape that looks great, but also conserves water and protects natural resources.

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