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Thursday, December 17, 2015

New category: "Alternative for" to replace invasives

Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'
is one of the Japanese barberries
determined to be invasive in Minnesota.
Been looking for your favorite Japanese barberry 'Rose Glow' on Plant Elements of Design and can't find it? These and other plants that are invasive are not in the database. We want to promote good plant choices that will not become invasive in our landscapes. By 2017, this barberry and 24 other Berberis thunbergii cultivars will be classified as invasive by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Minnesota Department of Natural resources and they will no longer be available for sale. To help you find replacements for these invasive cultivars, a new category will soon be added to the Search options called Alternative for:. This category will identify a plant as an good alternative choice to replace  invasive plants such as Norway maple, Japanese barberry, exotic honeysuckle, etc. The resources tapped for this information come from the MN DNR, the MDA and  MIPN (Midwest Invasive Plant Network).

For more information:
MN DNR Invasive Terrestrial Species - Japanese Barberry
Midwest Invasive Plant Network

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Welcome! New plant selection blog

Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator - Horticulture

Dry shade: Hosta, Tiarella, Heuchera

Welcome to the Plant Selection blog, an online community where people can learn and share ideas about good plants for gardens.

Good plant selection is straight-forward: match a plant's growing needs to the site conditions. Plants growing in optimal conditions will live longer, resist pests, and look better. They don't simply survive - they THRIVE!

Plant Elements of Design is a free plant selection program for designers, gardeners, landscape architects, students, Extension Master Gardeners - just about anyone involved with choosing plants for landscapes. Set up your free user account here and use the drop-down menu categories to specify site features: soil type (clay, sand, organic, dry), the available light (full sun, part sun, heavy shade), size of your planting space, and your hardiness zone. Identify desired plant characteristics like plant type, shape, texture, flower color and seasonal interest. Choose design use -- group, mass, key, accent, specimen -- and landscape use such as screen, pollinator garden, boulevard, natural planting, xeriscaping, rain garden, native, and more. Finally, click "Search" to get a list of any of the 2,800 hardy plants in our database that match your criteria. (Hint: If you come up empty-handed, try reducing the number of characteristics and search again. Focus on the most critical -- soil type, space, light. You can always add more specifics later.)

Once selected, you can save plants to a spreadsheet to create a plant key for your design. Or a budget for your landscape. Or a wish list for next year. Want to see ALL the plants in the database? Click "Export all plants." Like looking at plant pictures? Click "View images" and enjoy looking through the 3400+ downloadable plant images (with more being added all the time).

I admit it, I'm a plant geek, and I'm looking forward to hearing from others with a passion for plants, good design and gardens. Tell me about your experience with the Plant Elements of Design. Feel free to use this blog to ask questions. Post pictures of your plant selection successes and experiments (there are no failures!) and remember to add ideas for new database features and plant additions for future updates.

Have fun!

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