Plant Databases

MollyDog(6 PA)February 29, 2012

I wanted to let posters know there are many searchable databases available to help narrow your choices for a particular plant that needs to meet certain requirements. If you google "searchable plant database" I'm sure you will find one that is helpful.

After narrowing your choice it would be wise to discuss with your local nursery as well as to inquire on the forum to see if anyone has had experience with the plant. Good luck with your search.

Here is a link that might be useful: An example of a searchable database

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

That particular guide seems of little use to me. I took it for a quick test drive, and found that it produced a lot of trees and shrubs that wouldn't grow in my area (the search limitations weren't sufficient to really be useful) and some that were highly invasive (which certainly should not be recommended).

Rather than depend on search tool like this or nurseries (which are frequently misinformed), a good stroll in your local arboretum or botanical garden might be a better choice. Also, just keep an eye out on what you see growing in your area.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 7:38PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yep to the last paragraph. Yep and yep again.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 9:28PM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

Brandon, I was using that particular database as an example. There are MANY searchable databases. I also thought I made it clear in my last paragraph that further research should be done before purchasing, that the database was to aid in narrowing down the choice.

I wholeheartedly agree that looking at what is growing in your area is an excellent idea. The problem is that many homeowners do not know exactly what plant they have. They may know it is a boxwood, but how many different types of boxwood are there?

I don't think it is fair to use a blanket statement that many nurseries are misinformed. Several of our local nurseries are very reputable. Also, while I would love to stroll through a botanical garden, our closest one is about 3 hours away.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 12:50AM
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Suzette316(7)

Thanks Molly! I agree with you wholeheartedly. These data bases can be a very good starting point and can be very beneficial to getting things narrowed down. And I have several nurseries in my area that are staffed with folks who have a wealth of knowledge, so yes there are some great ones out there!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 8:34AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I've dealt with MANY nurseries all over the country. Many are thought of as "the best of the best", at least in their area. VERY FEW of the employees at any of them know much more about plants than the average Gardenwebber. Yes, occasionally you will get an especially gifted employee, but the odds are only slightly better than winning the lottery. Even most nursery owners will tell you this. I probably couldn't count as high as the number of nightmare stories I've heard about people trusting nurseries to know what they are doing. Gardenweb is filled with examples! It's unfortunate, but very few nurseries can safely be considered a reliable source of good info.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 6:23PM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

Makes me appreciate my local nursery even more.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 6:33PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

I gotta stick up for our nurseries, too...we have some really good ones. Some are retail, some are wholesale but let me in because I don't waste their time and they like to talk plants with other plant lovers. I know which employees I prefer to deal with (generally the owners) and they are honestly my best sources of information, although GW is rapidly getting almost as good!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 6:57PM
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strobiculate

Let us go visit the local college. And when you talk to the guy at the little booth at the parking lot, perhaps we should turn and go home because she's an idiot? I mean, aren't institutions of higher learning SUPPOSED to hire intelligent people?

Or what happens when you go to a hospital, and the janitor doesn't know the first thing about how to stop bleeding? Should one seek advice online because hospitals are supposed to hire people who at least know the basics of first aid?

Ok, so I suppose you could say you have to talk to the right person. And most garden centers of any size have someone on staff who does know their Deutzia from their Exochorda. Of course, then you get into the situation where so and so is more concerned about business than customer service. And customers are more concerned about getting cheap than getting good. I suppose we should support UPS and all use mail order; I mean, they obviously are more concerned about your success than a local company who would rather have your business for years.
Garden centers are in a hard position. You'd think they try to hire people who know something, but the truth is, they hire people who are willing to work in what is mostly a part time business.

and as long as the gold standard of gardening knowledge is the credential of a Master Gardener, there is no change foreseeable.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 2:06PM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

Whew!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 6:06PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

I know...I think I may be living in a bubble here...many of our local nursery people teach horticulture classes at the junior college, write for Pacific Horticulture, are active in societies such as Bonsai, Conifer, etc. I'm steadfastly refusing to take off my rose-colored glasses!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 6:41PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Strobiculate,

If you went to the local college and found that they had one professor that had a bachelor's degree but everyone else flunked out of school and never graduated high school, would you consider that college a good place to get an education? Maybe you would, but I wouldn't.

I'm not sure about that guy in the booth that turned out to be a she, but that's another conversation. (-:

If you went to the hospital and could only find one person that knew basic first aid and he only showed up on Tuesday and Thursday, would you consider that an exemplary medical resource. Well, not me!

Unfortunately, most garden centers are in business for one thing, profit. A rare few make the effort to hire well-educated professional people, or take the time and effort to train their people sufficiently, but those are absolutely the exception!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:10PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I just thought of something that maybe everyone realizes anyway, but it's probably still worth saying....approach ALL information sources with a skeptical mind. Once you have experience with a source of information, you can adjust your filter, but never completely remove the filter. There are some sources that I only need one or two supporting sources for confirmation, but others that I take only as a slight nudge in one direction. In other words, some sources may be almost always correct, while others are only occasionally correct. I have never found a source that wasn't wrong occasionally. Even if you go and find a specimen growing and thriving in an arboretum or botanical garden, don't necessarily assume it's ID'd correctly.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 10:39AM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

Brandon, we finally agree!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 4:06PM
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strobiculate

Let it be said...

*edited for content*

I guess that having a profit motive is evidence of gross corruption and moral degeneration, but only if you own a nursery.

So why would the honest, intelligent people want to work for such an organization?

For the good pay, luxury working conditions, and respect of their customers (see previous)?

Perhaps Blagojevich could use someone to run his new campaign for office...

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 6:12PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I'm not sure I really follow Strobiculate's last post, so this is kind of in response to things in the post (and what I think his point is) and kind of not (because I'm not really certain of the point being made), but....

I think that nursery owner's (many at least) use their profit margin, or lack thereof, as an excuse not to train or hire reasonably trained people, but I don't think it's a good excuse. Reasonably intelligent workers could be trained FAR better than most of them are with only a minimal amount of effort. Now, I know things like seasonal turnover and ebbs and flows in business account for some challenges in getting and keeping people trained, but I think a little more effort on the part of many nurseries could pay off big time in the long run. With the big-box stores taking a bigger and bigger bite out of the nursery business, I think many nurseries are going to be forced into giving better service in order to stay in business. Maybe they feel like they are fighting for their life now and saving money by not training, but the big box stores are going to be pretty hard to beat and the only way I see for most nurseries to win is through better customer service. Many customers are going to choose the cheap way no matter what, but some of us are fine with paying a little more for knowledge and helpfulness.

As for why people work for nurseries, it depends on the person. I see many people that work for nurseries only because they need work and can do the physical work required. I see others that just really enjoy working with plants (those people can be trained!). And, I see a very few that are horticultural experts who are willing to work for the enjoyment they receive from what they do and for what they can receive at better nurseries with sharp owners who consider the payoff over time.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:22PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The Bottom Line
⢠Best management practices are constantly changing as a result of ongoing scientific research
⢠Most nurseries do not have resources to research and write educational materials
⢠Educational materials for both customers and employees need to be updated annually to ensure
validity
⢠Information on best management practices is readily available from WSU and other land-grant
university extension offices

Here is a link that might be useful: The Myth of Indisputable Information

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:35PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Below That Bottom Line...

"Best management practices are constantly changing as a result of ongoing scientific research"

It's unfortunate that most nurseries are oblivious of these changes and maybe even of the research.

"Most nurseries do not have resources to research and write educational materials"

There's really no need for them to rewrite what has already been written. At least in many cases, the research has already been done and the results well presented. The only thing the nurseries need to do is be aware and pass the information along to their employees and to their customers. Since most nurseries are not in the business of scientific research or publishing, there's no real reason for them to try to enter those market.

"Educational materials for both customers and employees need to be updated annually to ensure validity"

While I would recommend always being on the lookout for updates or advances, much of the information, that nurseries need to know and pass on to their employees and customers, hasn't changed in a decades. Some has, but then keeping up with the info should be considered a BASIC part of their business!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 6:56PM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

Good article, bboy. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:28PM
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wally_1936(8b)

That is why we need to keep our own data base on our research plus use the experience of those here as well as our local nurseries and extension agents. But just because someone else has success with some plants others will not. I have seen plants that did well in areas that they should not and no one else seems to be able to grow. That is why I use my Genealogy program as a storage of all my successes and failures as I grow or kill plants that others seem to love and enjoy. It keeps them all easy to find and in the same program for later reference. so in the end I have to decide if they are agreeable with me and where I live. It will always be fun having success getting plants from seeds even if I have to find a home for them when I end up with too many. :)
Paul

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 12:05PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

All there has to be is a difference in soil conditions for there to be different results with the same plants in nearby locations. There can be different soil conditions right on the same building lot.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 2:13PM
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