Right plant, wrong place

Recently I have been in gardens where some great plants have been chosen, however they have been planted in the wrong place.  So what, you may ask?  Well, the right plant in the right place will thrive and grow, however in the wrong place a plant look straggly and awful, perform poorly, and be much more likely to get attacked by pests and diseases.

Being a plant lover I like to see plants survive and thrive, and also I like to see gardeners get the best for their money they invest in to their garden.  After all, plants are one of the few things that get bigger and better for a relatively small outlay.  Chocolate also has a similar growth effect when I buy it, but not in the right way!?

Here are some basic examples.

A sun lover in the shade

When we position a plant suited to full sun in the shade, whether it is a rose, a geranium or a lavender, one of its first responses is to become leggy.  As the plant stretches for the light, the cell walls of this leggy growth also thin.  This makes the plant more susceptible to pest and disease attack as the insects or diseases actually find it easier to bite or break into the cell.  Sometimes gardeners are perplexed when only part of their rose gets attacked by aphids.  On closer inspection it is often the part of the rose which is shaded, so in the case of a climbing rose growing over an archway, it is the part of the roses under the arch in the shade.

Sun loving herbs such as those we use in Mediterranean flavoured cooking, like thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano, will also lack the intensity of flavour compared with the same plant grown in full sun.

A shade lover in the sun

This is usually very obvious as when we plant a shade loving plant in the sun it will usually burn on a hot day.

Just to complicate things, there are some gardens areas which are full sun and full shade.  How can this be?  As many house blocks get smaller and their courtyard garden spaces are often only a metre or two square, sun and shade on a garden bed is affected by the movement of the sun across the seasons.  A north facing courtyard garden may get full sun in summer when the sun is directly overhead, however the garden bed may be completely shaded by the neighbour’s fence when the angle of the sun is lower in winter.

So when choosing plants for your garden, make observations of what grows well in the same conditions in gardens nearby, or talk with a keen local gardener or knowledgeable member of staff at your local nursery or garden centre.  Try and explain the conditions in the garden bed where you plan to plant and perhaps even have a mud map which shows the garden bed and includes neighbouring houses, fences and trees and an arrow for north.