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Understanding our Plant Attributes

On our website each individual plant page has a list of key features, or Attributes near the price and Add to Basket button.  These are intended to give you a quick guide to the features and requirements of the plant to save you having to read through the descriptive text further down the page.  The Attributes are also used to power the Filter and Advanced search functions of our plant catalogue.

Most of the Attributes are self explanatory but we hope that the following will make it clear exactly what we mean by each one!

This is the scientific plant family that the plant belongs to.  Of most interest to the more experienced gardener and professionals.

Main Season
In our opinion this is the main time of year that the plant provides interest in the garden.  It may be from flower, foliage or seedheads - or a combination of factors.  It does not mean that the plant only lives a short time or that it is dormant the rest of the year.

Flower Colour
For plants that produce flowers we give the most obvious or predominant colour here.  Unfortunately colours often produce disagreements as everyone seems to see them slightly differently so whether a flower is pink or magenta or red may well be open for discussion!

Bear in mind that many plants have more than one colour in the flower, or indeed may change colour as the flower ages so this is a guide only.

Leaf Colour
As with the Flower Colour, we give this as a guide to the most obvious colour of the foliage.  In the majority of cases of course it is Green!  Again, the exact shade can vary according to conditions, age and the eye of the beholder, but we hope this is a guide to help those who are planning themed plantings.  For Leaf Colour we do include a Multicoloured option as some plants are just a bit too complicated to catagorise as a single colour.

An addition to the Attributes list in 2019, this is a long overdue guide to what time of year the plant has it's leaves present.  These terms often cause confusion so here are our definitions of each:

Evergreen The plant keeps the majority of it's leaves for the majority of the year.  Weather conditions and exposure can affect how well a plant retains it's leaves and all plants do change their leaves at some point so it is normal to get some leaf drop at some time.

Semi-Evergreen These plants try to keep their leaves all year but often look rather sorry for themselves as they age.  Typically this applies to plants overwinter and it is usual to tidy the tatty leaves up in early spring just before the new growth starts.

Deciduous These plants will lose the majority of their leaves in autumn or early winter and have little or no sign of life overwinter.  Dead leaves, flower stems and seedheads may be retained as interesting features overwinter but they are all bleached and often fall apart as winter progresses.  Cut these plants back to ground level at the end of winter to allow new growth unrestricted space in the spring.

Summer Dormant Many plants from a Mediterranean climate will adopt this method of growth to avoid the excessive heat and dryness in summer.  The usual pattern with summer dormant plants is for the new growth to appear in late summer or autumn and to look good overwinter, flowers may be produced in autumn, winter or spring, and as summer arrives the growth dries off and the plant goes dormant again.  These plants often have a bulb, tuber or rhizome that needs to be kept reasonably dry in the height of summer.

Spring Ephemeral A less familiar term but one that is very useful once you understand it!  These plants emerge in a rush in spring, often flowering before producing any leaves, and then die down again as summer arrives.  Most Spring Ephemerals are self seeding annuals but there are many perennials too, and like the Summer Dormant plants they may have a bulb, tuber or rhizome.

Wintergreen A halfway house between Summer Dormant and Spring Ephemeral, WIntergreen plants have their best foliage overwinter but may not necessarily go completely dormant during the summer.  Not often used but it is a useful term for some plants like Arum and some Ferns that grow new leaves in late Summer or Autumn and keep them going as long as the conditions suit them.

With just one or two words it can be a bit vague but again this is intended to be a guide to the ideal location to grow a plant in relation to how much sun it will get.  As a guide, Sun means at least 6 hours per day in summer, Part/Light Shade means less sun than 6 hours and Shade means no direct sun at all.  Most plants are adaptable and will cope with variations on these guidelines though.

Soil Type
Another potentially confusing set of terms but we keep them fairly loose as very few plants that we grow are that fussy!  We are focussed on moisture and drainage here as they tend to be most critical to most plants.  The pH of your soil (acidity/alkalinity) will only usually be a problem if it is very low or high, roughly neutral will be fine for most plants.

If you just don't know what type of soil you have, take a handful of soil and squeeze it in your hand.  As you open your hand again a sandy soil will usually crumble and fall apart on it's own, a good loam will hold together but break apart if you prod it, and a clay soil will have made a solid, hard lump that resists your attempts to break it up.

Simply the maximum height range, in flower if appropriate, that we would expect the plant to get to in ideal conditions.  Most plants will have a more accurate figure in the descriptive text.

Peat Free?
We have been potting into Peat Free compost since May 2018.  As we grow such a large range, not all varieties are propagated every year so it will take a little time for all varieties to be entirely Peat Free.  As new batches of plants are ready this Attribute will be updated.

Hardiness Guide
Another new Attribute added in 2019.  Using the Royal Horticultural Society's latest version of their Hardiness Ratings these represent the absolute minimum temperature that you can expect the plant to survive when planted in ideal conditions.  Plants in pots will always be more vulnerable so may need protecting.  As few people yet understand the RHS H code we have added the temperature range in degrees Celsius.

Please be aware that the hardiness of a plant is influenced by many factors, including but not limted to; soil, site/aspect, drainage, wind, whether in a container or planted, how long established, snow cover (or lack of!) etc.

Pot Size
This is the size of pot that you should get if you buy this plant.  A little further down the page is a link to our Pot Size Guide to help you if you are not familiar with standard commercial sizes.

Sometimes we make a mistake or run out of a particular size so we may send an alternative size.  If we send you an alternative that is smaller than listed we refund you the difference, if it is bigger than listed you generally get a bargain!  Please see our Terms and Conditions for our exact policy on this.

Pot Size Guide