Plant Selection Factors

April 2017

Plan Before you Plant

Plants add value to the home, provide shade, define space, and make us happy. Consider the following five plant selection factors when choosing plants for your landscape. Keep in mind plants have different light and water requirements.

1. Water Requirements

Some plants require more water than others.  Choose plants that are well adapted to Oklahoma’s climate. Check the soil moisture before watering to increase strong root growth. Remember that plants under shade require less water than plants in direct sun and should be watered less often. Place plants with similar water and light requirements together.

2. Texture

Plants with a coarse texture have large leaves  or flowers and fine-textured plants have small leaves and create a soft look.  Fine elements provide a soft background and coarse textured plants can be used to create contrast in the landscape.

3. Color

Choosing plants with different bloom times and colors creates year long interest. Three basic color schemes work well in the garden.

  • Analogous colors: Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel add contrast in the garden.
  • Complementary colors: Colors directly   opposite on the color wheel intensifies each individual color.
  • Monochromatic colors: Colors are hues of the same color and creates a peaceful       appearance.

Place plants with different bloom times and    complementary bloom colors together. Some plants may flower early in the spring or late in the fall. Plants with warm, bright colors, like yellow and white, work best for shade areas. All colors work well in sunny areas. The bloom of a plant isn’t the only aspect of color importance when choosing plant location. Select plants with interesting foliage colors to provide beauty in the landscape between flowering times.

4. Mature Height

Before a beautifully mature landscape is achieved, there is a grow-in phase.     Remember that the plants are going to grow for several years, depending on the species. Annuals, which only live for one year, typically grow fast. Perennials may grow fast or slow, depending on the type and cultivar. Trees and shrubs may take three to five years or more to become established. Consider mature plant height. Some plants will grow very tall and should not be placed close to a structure or right next to surrounding plants. Give plants time to grow into the space.

5. Form 

Form or object shape should be considered when placing plants in the landscape. Different shapes in the landscape provide visual interest and variety in the landscape. Evergreen and deciduous attributes of plants can be a major contributing factor to a plant’s form. Deciduous plants tend to vary slightly in form throughout seasonal changes while evergreen plants tend to maintain a consistent form with slight variations depending on different environmental conditions.

DASNR Extension Research CASNR
OCES  Contact
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Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078