University of Maryland Extension

Plant Selection

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Right Plant - Right Place!

  • Select varieties well-adapted to the site conditions. Plant natives which will tolerate local conditions without extra fertilizer, water, or high maintenance. Also see (PDF) Native Plants of Maryland. Visit the Maryland Native Plant Society’s website to locate where to purchase native plants.
  • Do your research - Visit your local garden centers and library to research plants that you like and whether or not they will thrive in your setting. Avoid planting shade loving plants in full sun. Azaleas are acid loving plants. Don’t plant them next to your house where the soil is likely to be more alkaline. Plant shade trees on the south or southwest exposure to shade your house in the heat of summer but to allow light to heat your house in the winter.
  • Plants to avoidinvasive species like burning bush and barberry, high maintenance plants, plants that grow best out of your climate zone.
  • Select disease or insect resistant varieties of ornamental plants as well as fruits and vegetables. Contact our experts to get advice or contact your local Cooperative Extension Service. 
  • Purchase healthy, certified, disease free seeds, transplants and nursery stock. Ask for certification where you purchase plants or seeds.
  • Hardiness - Based on the average low temperature in winter. If a plant cannot survive the coldest winter temperatures, don’t plant it! In Maryland we have a wide range of potential low winter temperatures ranging from the coldest in the western part of the state and the mildest on the lower eastern shore. If you are considering a plant in which the winter hardiness is in question or unknown, check with the University of Maryland’s Home and Garden Information Center Ask the Experts or your local County Extension office for guidance.
  • Adaptability to site conditions - Based on your site evaluation in terms of exposure, soil, and wind, is the plant capable of growing satisfactorily?
  • Size -What will be the size of the plant be in 10 years, 20 years, or at maturity? Do not select a plant that will eventually outgrow its site.
  • Maintenance requirements -Does the plant have any special maintenance requirements? These include watering, pruning, fertilization, or clean-up.

Magnolia grandiflora

This southern magnolia's blossoms and glossy foliage make it a wonderful speciman plant. But those thick, leathery, evergreen leaves can cause a maintenance problem in a high-traffic area




  • Aesthetic qualities -Does the plant provide interesting flowers, fruit, foliage, bark, or other aesthetic quality? When considering one plant versus another, aesthetic qualities can make the difference.
  • Susceptibility to pests and diseases -Does the plant have any specific problems with insects, mites, or diseases? Is the plant resistant to pests and disease problems? Can pest problems be managed without pesticides?

Plant Selection References

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