Here are a few of the things I've learned (the hard way):
- Pay attention to the actual width and height of a mature plant listed on the plant tag. Failure to do this causes extra work. The plant is no longer cute when it's massive and crowding out all the other adjacent plants.
- Pay attention to the hardiness zone on the perennial plant tag. I live in Zone 4B and often see Zone 5 perennials for sale in our area. When buying plants, don't be swayed by a pretty face. Yes, they may survive during a mild winter or perhaps they will do okay if planted in a protected place, but don't expect them to stick around for the long haul. If you do buy out-of-zone, consider the plant an annual from the get-go so you're not heartbroken when it dies.
- Pay attention to the sun exposure on the perennial plant tag. Here's specifically what these terms mean in terms of actual numbers -- very important!
* Full sun - More than 6 hours of direct sunlight.
* Part sun - 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. Afternoon sun is usually better (hotter).
* Part shade - 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. Morning sun is usually better (less hot)
* Shade - Less than 4 hours of direct sunlight.
- Resist impulse buying. Before I buy anything, my rule is that I must have a place to put it. Cramming a plant anywhere doesn't do it justice, or the plants that already live in the flower bed you are cramming it into.
- Planning ahead is best practice and really does save extra work down the road. If you don't want to do it twice, plan ahead.
- Steer clear of walnut trees - There are several walnut trees surrounding our property. Their roots produce a substance called juglone that can be toxic to many plants. Luckily, my daylilies aren't bothered, but many of my other plants have a major problem with juglone. Also, be careful not to let walnut leaves sneak into your compost.
- Never get lazy about spraying deer deterrent. You can't ever be too tired...it only takes one evening for a few deer to take out an entire flower bed full of blooms you've waited all year to see.