Growing Conditions-draft

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To offer the most meaningful growing information within a small space we have relied heavily on the terms and definitions used in the book Perennials and Their Garden Habitats by Richard Hansen and Friedrich Stahl. Regrettably the English translation of this book is out of print. We have adapted only slightly, or in some cases simplified, their terms and applied them to all groups of plants here.

Growing in SUNLIGHT


Exposed to both the light and warmth of full sun all day.

Bright Shade

Lightly shaded and cooled by trees with a high, open canopy, but still quite bright. Includes steep north-facing slopes.


Shaded and cool in either the morning or the afternoon from buildings or trees, or shaded lightly all day by trees.


Shaded and cool all day by buildings, or by trees with a dense canopy.

Growing in SOIL


Water is able to drain freely through the soil profile. Sand or sandy-loam soils are naturally well-drained. Drainage in clay or clay-loam soils can be improved by incorporating organic matter.


This term indicates plants, or plants with wild relatives that grow naturally in close

association with rocks. In these settings, the rocks may provide shelter for low-growing plants, or a cool, damp place for roots to grow beneath, or otherwise imply excellent drainage. In a garden these plants do not require rocks, but rather the particular microclimate that the rocks provide. Pre-cast concrete landscape pavers or stone may substitute for natural stone in some garden settings.


Clay or clay-loam soils tend to be naturally nutrient-rich while sand or sandy-loam soils tend to be nutrient-poor. Either synthetic fertilizers or compost can be added to enhance the nutrient levels in any soil type.


This term is used to indicate soils where organic materials occur in various stages of decomposition, well-mixed with the soil, and often with an accumulation of large pieces of raw humus on the surface.


The soil pH should be in the range of 5 to 4.


This term is used to indicate sandy soils, shallow soils over rock, raised beds, or unshaded soils exposed to the sun.


This term is used to indicate soils that are shaded by plants, or soils that are protected from the sun’s warmth by a thick layer of organic mulch, or clay soils.

Growing in MOISTURE


Water does not drain away freely but remains in the soil at the root zone. Water will

seep into a hole dug here. These plants will tolerate damp soil.


This soil is moist to the touch for most of the year. These plants require constant moisture and do not tolerate even short drought periods.


This soil is normally moist to the touch. These plants tolerate short periods of drought or

damp soils.


This soil is normally dry to the touch in the root zone. These plants tolerate periodic drought.


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