A plant search tool I really like—so far

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Plantlust

As advertised, it is simple. Just type in a couple key words and filter by categories like hardiness zone, exposure, and soil. What you’ll get is a list of plants, each with its needs and features and a short description, plus the nursery that provided the information. This is a consumer-oriented plant-finder, not an online research encyclopedia, and it’s by no means close to comprehensive. Yet.

Plant Lust was started by Loree Bohl (Danger Garden), Megan Hansen, and Patricia Cunningham. It’s designed to connect gardeners to plants they might want as quickly and simply as possible. So far, there are 8,000 plants, with information contributed by a handful of nurseries, mainly in Oregon, but also including Plant Delights, Annie’s Annuals, and Tidwell.

I’m more of a researcher than consumer when it comes to this kind of search—my garden is just about stuffed full—but I was enchanted to type in “boehmeria” and instantly get 3 results. It’s not a plant most will have heard of, and it reflects the high quality of the sources used here. I love the idea of a beginning gardener using this site and getting talked into buying cool perennials they will never ever find at the big box.

Plant Lust. Check it out, and tell them—and us—what you think.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com

18 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like a good tool. Have seen some search tools with way too many parameters that always end up with “no such plant found”

    The TROLL

  2. It looks goo and I was super excited when I first read it and started playing around with it. Unfortunately it only took about 10 minutes for me to discover their Hardiness Zones are inaccurate when compared to their listed vendors versions.

    I was super excited about a type of holly that was under the zone 3 listing thinking I had just found a holly that might grow in my neck of the woods. Being excited, I quickly went to the vendor site only to find out that they agree with me that holly can’t live in anything lower then zone 5.

    It was a bit heart breaking and was not the only one that I found in the few minutes following.

    If that could get fixed up though I think it would be a great site. Maybe that zone problem won’t affect most people that live in the warmer areas though.

  3. Thanks Elizabeth for the review, glad you like it!

    Teri – regarding the zone issue, I’m sorry that we caused you zonal heart-break. We are doing our best to research and correct the sometimes conflicting information that different sources supply. In future iterations of plant lust we’ll be collecting feedback from gardeners around the country to get actual “in the garden” reports. We want our site to be a useful tool for everyone, cold climates included. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience!

  4. Loree- Thank you for the response, the rest of the site looks great in terms of function. As for the zonal heartbreak, living in a cold climate and too far north for most sensible plants I’ve come to accept the zone envy as it comes. I do look forward to seeing the site evolve over time though. The lack of hearty holly or not, I’m still excited about how easy it was to find said holly and all the other goodies that showed up in my initial search!

  5. I’m in a pretty small subset of gardeners, but I wonder if there is some way to put in a tag for low desert plants – zones 8b to 9b in Phoenix are very different from the same zone designation elsewhere.

    Search result ‘desert’ brings up lots of good candidates, but also throws in some names that don’t describe the plant’s best climate. ‘Desert Snow Rhododendron’ would not do well here, I’m thinking.

    Just food for thought.

  6. Thanks Elizabeth for the post. I was so excited to read this here morning.

    Jenn – you’re so right, zones are not the whole story. I love the idea of tagging for low desert plants. I’m putting this on our to-do list. Sounds like a fun research project to dive into. Thanks for the idea.

  7. Jenn, as you know from reading my personal blog I LOVE the dessert and I am very envious of the plants you can grow there. But of course the grass is always greener and while I can focus on the sweet spot you’re living the day to day reality. As Megan said your suggestion is on our to-do list. Now hopefully I can figure out how this might involve a trip to the desert for me!

  8. I clicked through, but was warned that this site has a poor reputation for “trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety.” Curious I searched for details and was told that this was a spam domain! If you want to fix it, the program that gave me this info was WOT.

  9. Cautious –
    I heard this from another friend, and it’s such a bummer! I was completely baffled by the ratings since they don’t even apply to what we do: we don’t collect email addresses, have nothing but juicy plant info which I’d consider child safe, and we don’t sell anything so we’re not a vendor. Plus we got listed as spam before we went live with our site. Super frustrating.

    I did some research to see what the process is for reversing WOT incorrect ratings, but there sadly really isn’t one as far as I can tell, and people who try drive themselves mad. Their ratings are contributed by people who use WOT so somebody said we were a problem, but they’re mistaken, and there’s not much we can do to change it unless a slew of people vote that we’re not – which requires pestering your friends to install their widget. So yeah, like I said, such a bummer. We come in peace.

  10. Hi Megan – Congrats on the site! I suspect the reason your domain is listed as having a “poor reputation” has to do with the child safety factor. I’m guessing that “lust” for plants is not differentiated from lust for other things. Maybe there’s a way you can contact them and have them check out your site and remove it?

  11. I think it’s the “lust” issue as well. I know my teacher friends can’t access my blog, gardeningwhileintoxicated.com–the school servers block it.

  12. Thanks Raffi & Elizabeth – I suspect you’re right, “lust” in the name of a site probably looks suspicious. Bleh – no fun. Here’s hoping they see their way to correcting the rating soon.

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