5 Traits of Successful Plant Combinations
The desire to create a lush, beautiful garden stirs our imagination and it’s exciting to feel the creative juices flow. But the importance of building upon a solid foundation can’t be over-emphasized. Paying attention to the following guidelines as you're creating your plant combinations will make a big difference in how you feel about your results.
① They're COMPANIONABLE and well-adapted.
To create your dream garden, it’s essential to narrow your plant combination choices to only those that share the same cultural requirements. For example, they all want the same amount of sun, have the same water needs, and will grow in your hardiness zone. Making a good match in terms of what you have to offer, culture-wise, and making sure that you create a sociable mix of plants that all want the same thing, is the key to creating successful plant combinations.
② They rely on a WELL-ROUNDED team
The sum is greater than the parts, as the saying goes. And that's how I think about this process of deciding what to plant together. I've said that I rarely think of plants as individuals. And while that's true, I'd expand on that to say that the plants that I consider for inclusion in my designs have passed muster on an individual basis—I've deemed them worthy, and therefore eligible for inclusion in the larger scheme of things. The result: a strong well-rounded team, no weak links or slouches—every plant pulls their weight.
③ They're INDUSTRIOUS and hard-working.
Creating a garden that looks good for the long haul is easiest when you use a collection of complementary plants that offer a seasonal progression of interest. This is usually accomplished via attractive foliage and flower, decorative berries, and/or colorful stems and branches. Also creating a pleasing composition with varied forms and textures is important to the overall effect. By relying on top-performers like this when you're creating your plant combinations, you'll be able to create a garden that looks great for three—and yes, even four—seasons of the year.
④ They're PRACTICAL and manageable.
Happy, healthy plants that are well-cared for will always be the most attractive. So it's a good idea to be thinking about maintenance from the get-go in order to ensure that the garden you decide to make is a match for the amount of effort you want to put towards maintenance.
Here's a couple of ways that you might go about this:
- Use a limited plant palette. A carefully-chosen, stylish composition of just a few plants can be a good strategy for keeping things simple while creating a plant combinations that you'll be happy to live with.
- Another way to go about it is to include ultra low-maintenance plants. Believe it or not, there are lots of plants that will thrive and look great with only a once-a-year maintenance blitz.
⑤ The combination of plants is PLEASING—TO YOU!
Above all, does it make you happy and satisfied? Because, that’s what it’s all about! If you enjoy looking at it, and it brings you joy for months on end, and you feel confident caring for it—congratulations, you did it!