Choosing the Best Plants for Your Garden

Gardening can be so exciting, especially when it’s time to decide what you’re going to grow.

You can get plant starts, or start your own from seed, but either way, it is up to you, depending on your time and budget for supplies. However, you likely won’t be able to grow everything or every variety that you want to grow. So, how do you possibly decide what will be the best plants to grow in your garden? 

Here are some considerations for selecting the plants you’ll grow in your garden.

Growing zone

Your growing zone plays a large role in what you can and can’t grow.

For instance, someone who lives in a really warm zone, like zone 10, can likely grow year round and grow tropical plants, while someone who lives in a much colder zone, such as zone 4, probably wouldn’t be very successful with tropical plants.

You also want to make sure that what you choose to grow has enough time to reach maturity. You can do this by figuring out what your first and last frost dates are. Your last frost date will allow you to know when you can start seeds or buy your plants, and your first frost date will tell you how long your plants have to reach maturity.

If you’re starting from seed, you can look at your seed packets for the “days to maturity” to make sure that they can grow properly during that time frame. If you don’t know what your growing zone is, you can find out by searching your zip code on the USDA website

Room to grow?

If you have a small space to grow in, you might want to stay away from vining plants, such as squash, as they will take up a lot of space because they need to sprawl out. If you have a lot of space, this may not be an issue for you, but if you have a smaller gardening space, you don’t want all of it taken up by one thing. If you do have a smaller growing space, consider growing in containers and growing dwarf varieties. 

Where the sun shines

While some plants thrive in the shade, most plants will need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. That means, if you have a spot that doesn’t get enough sun, you can’t expect your plants to do very well there. If you really want to utilize the shady space, look for things that can tolerate shade and don’t need as much sun. For example, some flowers and leafy greens can do just fine in the shade, but would easily wither away in too much direct sun without a bit of a reprieve. 

The amount of sunlight your garden gets plays a crucial role in what your plant choices are.

Eating and harvesting

Most importantly, what do you like to eat? What WILL you eat? You don’t want to waste space and time on things you don’t like or won’t actually eat.

While homegrown vegetables do tend to taste better in general, chances are, if you don’t like something already, you probably won’t like it, even if you grew it, so choose things that you like or things that someone in your household at least likes.

You should also have a plan for processing what you do grow to minimize waste.

For example, if you are growing a lot of tomatoes, what will you do if you can’t eat all of them fresh? Would you freeze them, can them, or give them away?

Having a plan for your hard work can help you also visualize how many of each plant you should grow, too. If you just want to eat your harvests fresh, then you can likely get away with less, but if you want to be able to preserve your harvests to be able to eat homegrown food throughout the year, you might want to grow more.

Having a plan for your garden harvests can help you decide how many plants you need of each kind! 

You got this!

Even if you follow these considerations, some things might not go as planned, and that’s okay!

Learn from any mistakes and lean into what did well for you, and make any adjustments if you need to, and take notes on everything that did go well so you can repeat that success for years to come.



1 comment

  • Thomas Lynch

    I was really hoping for some kind of matrix with a bunch of vegetables, bushes, fruit trees and maybe x boxes in the Zones do see who is viable? Is there a database like that? I spend my first 61 years in the Northeast (PA & NY/LI) and am now down in Venice FL in what appears to be a Zone 10a . Things like tomatoes, apples, peaches, lemon, mango and perennial rye grass, vs St. Augustine or Bermudagrass versus maples, and magnolia and jacaranda and willow trees or oaks and elm???

    Want to get a few raised garden boxes from you guys but I need a PLAN and a PURPOSE and I need to feel confident I won’t fail??? Watchin Youtube stuff but they are n it for the long haul with weekly 1 hours clickbait and monetized LOOOONG segments with little actual actionable data.

    Where is the MEAT and the data? I will keep looking.

    ~ Thomas ~ [email protected]

Leave a comment