Monthly Archive for July, 2014

The Big Three – Soil Moisture, Wind Exposure and Light

Growing plants is easy. That may seem like a gross over simplification of what can be a very frustrating, and laborious pursuit. But it is a statement grounded in a simple truth. The truth being that every plant wants to grow. You just have to provide the things is needs and then get out of the way. Imagine how hard it would be to grow plants if they were as interested in growing as teenagers are at getting up early Saturday morning. Thankfully, with plants, you already have a willing partner.

Where most gardeners run into trouble is trying to grow a plant somewhere it is not well adapted to survive. Or failing to compensate when growing conditions change, for example during a prolonged period of drought.

There are many things to consider when choosing a plant for a specific location, but the most important are soil moisture, wind exposure and light.

Soil moisture is a measure of how well your soil retains water. Heavy soils like clay tend to hold water longer than light soils that are rich in organic material or comprised mainly on sand.

Wind exposure is a measure of the strength and persistence of wind. The concern is not so much how plants react to being blow around in the wind, but rather the rate at which they will lose moisture.

Light. Every plant needs light to produce energy through photosynthesis. The amount of light required can range from full shade to full sun and everything in between.

Plants have evolved over millions of years to adapt to specific growing conditions in unique micro climates. Globalization, and international trade has made thousands of plant species available to gardeners, but they have not forgotten their roots. They still need the growing conditions they are genetically adapted to in order to survive and thrive.

Thankfully the horticulture industry has taken much of the guess work out of the buying process. Most plants are sold with information about preferred growing conditions, including Soil Moisture, Wind Exposure and Light. So called “Hardy” plants are usually plants that can tolerate a wide spectrum of growing conditions, moderate shade to full sun for example.

The trick is knowing where you want to place a plant in your garden, and the growing conditions at that site before you make a purchase decision. Armed with that information you will be able to select the right plant for the right place. When it comes to growing plants, it is far better to follow nature than to fight it.

Matt

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