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Plant right size plant in right size place

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Before selecting a plant, be sure to find out how large it will eventually get. It’s important to know both the mature size in height and width.

The mature size of plants is an important consideration when choosing plants for your landscape.

Before selecting a plant, be sure to find out how large it will eventually get. It’s important to know both the mature size in height and width. And don’t rely on the word dwarf in the plant name. This term is relative and can be misleading.

A common landscape mistake is to not place the plants properly when planting to allow for their mature size. Many people can’t look at a plant in a gallon size pot and imagine that in just a few years it will take over the side of the house. Planting a tree that will eventually reach 80 feet in height under a power line that’s only 20 feet above the ground eventually creates problems for both the tree and the power line. Placing a standard Southern Magnolia tree too close to a driveway or walkway so that the tree’s lower limbs eventually grow over the drive or walk is another example.

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Another common example is placing plants such as shore junipers in narrow plant beds. Shore juniper is a poor choice for narrow beds. One shore juniper can have a mature spread of 6 to 9 feet! Why try to force it to spend its entire life in a two-foot wide bed? Because it is genetically designed to spread outward, you will eventually have to “butcher” the plant to try and ‘force it to fit’ the smaller space. And junipers don’t respond well to severe pruning, resulting in plant decline. And eventually the entire planting of junipers becomes an eyesore as the plants begin to die.

Many future problems can be avoided by simply planting the right size plant in the right size place. It’s worth your time to find out how large a plant will be at maturity. Our office has this information for most plants appropriate for North Florida. A reputable nursery should be able to provide this information for the plants they sell. Or you can refer to a reliable book or other publication on plants for Florida. The point is to find out before you plant so that you can plant the right size plant in the right size place.

The next plant clinic will be held Friday, July 13 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Okaloosa County Extension Annex located at 127 NW, Hollywood Blvd. in Fort Walton Beach.

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The plant clinic is designed to provide a place and time for people to bring in samples of plants for diagnosis, including weeds for identification. Bring a fresh sample. This may include a plant stem with several leaves, a 4-inch square of grass with roots attached, etc. You may also bring a sample of your soil for pH testing.

Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email lwilliams@myokaloosa.com.

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