Many gardeners ask the question “Will this survive?”
The real question that needs an answer is “Will this plant THRIVE?”
Most of the time, the answer to the question is “Right Plant, Right Place.”
During the winter months, gardeners are busy planning what they may want to purchase for next year in their landscape.
So where to start? Do some in depth research.
Most catalog description include zone hardiness, mature height and width, light requirements such as sun, shade, or partial sun, a description of the plant, any special features such as flower or fall color, and a suggested use in the landscape.
Spending some time researching plant options will help your selection to move from “surviving” to “Thriving.”
There are many examples of right plant, right place. I will explore two plants.
Canadian Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis, is my favorite evergreen tree. I used to live in Lake County Ohio and Hemlock thrived on the north facing slope of the Grand River.
This should give you an indication of where hemlock thrives in its native habitat. It prefers cool shade and does well as an understory plant under and amongst mature hardwoods. It prefers moist, well drained soils containing gravel or sandy loam. In the landscape, Hemlock is a versatile shrub/ small tree. It responds to pruning or can be left unpruned. It can grow in full sum but thrives in partial shade or on the north facing side of a building, avoiding the heat of the midday sun. Hemlocks that are planted in challenging conditions may survive, but because they are experiencing stress can be prone to insect and disease pressure. They really don't like "Full Sun". One insect that can infest hemlock is Hemlock Elongate Scale.
Sweetbay or Greenbay Magnolia, Magnolia virginiana var. australis, is part of the magnolia family but can remain partially evergreen in the winter if planted in a protected site from sunlight and winter winds. This is another example of a plant that really does better in partial shade, protection from wind, and moist conditions. This magnolia can grow and survive in full sun, like this one in a local cemetery (See Pictures). Being planted right next to the driveway it can suffer from drought stress. Sweetbay Magnolia thrives in a more sheltered environment. When you look at the catalog description, you can begin to see where a plant will really thrive.