April 7, 2013

Maine Gardener: Read that label, or better yet, ask a pro


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Information on tags for branded or patented plants is even more extensive, but Estabrook said the best source for information is still the garden center professional.

When shops sell plants from companies such as Proven Winners, they have to buy special plant tags or labels, and often special pots, which raises the price of the product for the consumer.

"Part of the issue with doing tagging for all across the country is that, while it is good information, it is somehow generic," Estabrook said. "With Endless Summer hydrangeas, they have a recommendation for pruning that is different from what we recommend at the garden center. In Maine, in order to get the most in blossoming, we take a different spin on what they give us."

I recently received a shrub catalog from Proven Winners Color Choice that included a full-page spread explaining their plant catalogs.

The example used is Little Lime hydrangea, which is a dwarf version of Limelight, growing only 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide. While it is sold as Little Lime, which is a trademark name, it also has the name hydrangea paniculata "Jane."

Hydrangea paniculata is the botanical name, but there are dozens of hydrangea paniculatas on the market. It also has the cultivar name "Jane," which no one ever uses but is patent-protected. And it has the plant-patent numbers for the plant.

All of which is probably more information than you need. But still, you need to read the labels in the plants you're purchasing.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:



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