Gardening RI
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garden plants for RI

Here in Rhode Island, and elsewhere in this Hardiness Zone (5b–7a), there are seemingly limitless choices for plants…annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs, bulbs, vegetables, ground covers, roses, dahlias, and vines of all sizes, shapes, colors, and varieties.   It is always a challenge to select the right plants for the right use and the right location, but there is one important factor that should underlie these decisions — sustainability.  A successful garden is not luck and a “green thumb.”  Choosing plants that are hardy in the environment in which they will live, and providing the healthiest possible environment, are the keys to success.


Annuals are just that, a plant with one growing season.  New annuals must be planted each year.  They are almost always flowering plants that add a wonderful touch of color in the landscape, but the annual investment of money and work is sometimes daunting.


Bulbs, on the other hand, offer a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes with the added benefits of being planted only once (until they need renovation), offering a choice of blooming season, and requiring little maintenance.


Perennials and ornamental shrubs are an ideal choice for sustainable gardens — provided you select sustainable plants.  There are herbaceous varieties that die back over the winter and come back in the spring.  There are woody plants that stand year round and there are evergreen varieties that have foliage year round.  Perennials can be used in groups, as foundation covers, as specimen plantings, or to anchor a bed.  There is some maintenance required, mainly pruning, but otherwise they require little attention if they are healthy.


Trees are another good long term investment for the landscape.  They can provide shade and protection from wind as well as a place for birds to nest and breed.  If they are sustainable and healthy they will be around for many years with little expense or maintenance. 


Roses, dahlias, vines, and ground covers are not as common but there is no reason not to consider adding any of these to your landscape.  Disease-resistant rose varieties are now available so they are much easier to grow and care for.  Dahlias are virtually disease free and, except for some insect pests, are hardy plants in Rhode Island, at least for the summer and fall.  They are actually annuals in our region and, therefore, require some work if you plan to dig the tubers to keep over winter for next year.  But you don’t need to buy new ones every year so that minimizes the expense.  There are a few vines to choose from, but the most popular are clematis which also require very little maintenance and even though they are very susceptible to fungus infection which makes the foliage unsightly they do not succumb to the disease.  Ground covers are a good way to control erosion and reduce the lawn area which means less work, lower costs, and reduced impact on the environment by not needing lawn chemicals and fertilizer. 


Vegetables are grown for any number of reasons.  There are more than 30 vegetables that are easy to grow in Rhode Island and each has something unique to offer. 


Follow the links on this page for more detailed information on all types of plants that can be grown successfully here in Rhode Island.   

Photos and illustrations used on this site copyright ©  2011 Gardening RI, except as noted. All rights reserved.
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