Mis-Placed Plants…..Read The Plant Label Part 2


Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.  Especially in terms of planting the right plant in the wrong place.  

I took a drive this past fall around a neighborhood near our house and found many examples of beautiful plants that had been butchered in order to fit into a small area.  I spoke about this in an earlier post,  Read the Plant Label or You Might End Up With Cupcakes.  But, I have more pictures to share of what went wrong by those who did not read the label.

So, even though I do love to ‘talk’ – I think I will let the following pictures speak for me….

Planting the right plant in the wrong place

Planting the right plant in the wrong place, Oleanders

Planting the right plant in the wrong place


Planting the right plant in the wrong place

Rosemary and Pyracantha

Planting the right plant in the wrong place

Texas Sage ‘Green Cloud’



Red Bird-of-Paradise

Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

Bougainvillea 'Torch Glow'

Bougainvillea ‘Torch Glow’

Okay, I’m breaking my silence now.

You may be wondering why I am including the photo above.  I took this photo of a client’s new landscape that they had just had designed and installed by a landscape company.  You can see that the bougainvillea fit nicely in this area.  Well, that was then…..what the homeowner did not realize, (until I told him), is that this shrub will grow 6 ft. high and wide.  The area it was planted in was 1 ft. wide and located by the front entry.  In addition, they did not take into account that bougainvillea have thorns, which would scratch people as they passed by this shrub as it grew outside of the planting boundary.

So, wherever you live….whether in England, China, South Africa, Australia and especially in Arizona – please, please read the plant label before buying a plant to see how large it will grow.

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
26 replies
  1. ChickenFreak
    ChickenFreak says:

    Heh. This seems to be the rule, not the exception, in many townhouse developments that I've been in. The primary plant maintenance is the ruthless pruning of every shrub down to a skeleton, so that it can continue to exist in an area one-tenth the size that it needs. Exactly why they don't put both shrubs and gardeners out of their continuing misery by just redirecting the pruning saw and cutting the trunk off at the ground, I don't know.

  2. Rebecca @ In The Garden
    Rebecca @ In The Garden says:

    Great post Noelle, the first picture is just too much! I don't quite understand the *need* for plants to end under the fence line? Why not let them grow taller? The mind boggles. I am quite fanatical about reading tags.

  3. Kyna
    Kyna says:

    EXCELLENT post. I always do my research before I plant something. In fact, sometimes I do too much research and never get anything planted lol.

    My heart weeps for those oleander bushes 🙁

  4. Shady Gardener
    Shady Gardener says:

    This is a perfect post! I know people wonder about my gardens when they're planted… most of my plants are pretty far apart. However, I am anticipating the growth that was stated on the tag, or in the book, etc. (This is why I cut my Christmas tree from our yard this year! The tree was Right Next to the house – and I didn't plant it there!) ha. 🙂

  5. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    Those oleanders are heartbreaking, and the Texas sage that had been so affected by its bad placement made me nearly angry on its behalf. I've never had a property of my own to landscape for long-term, but you can bet I'll be thinking of these poor pictures when I do so. (What was the landscape company thinking with that bougainvillea?? I have seen them in the Southwest and they get huge. I saw giant ones out there — which I lusted for immediately as they were a hummingbird buffet!)

  6. Grace Peterson
    Grace Peterson says:

    Yeah, yeah, Noelle. You're taking all the fun out of it. [Kidding] I have to say that reading the tag doesn't always assure the right place/right plant concept. Not when denial is your middle name. Now, ahem, who could that be? LOL

  7. Rose
    Rose says:

    Noelle, your pictures are definitely worth a thousand words! This ought to help you persuade any hesitant clients just how important it is to be careful where something is planted. I certainly wouldn't want to be the unsuspecting pedestrian who walks too close to one of those cacti:)

    We have a large spruce at the corner of our house planted many years ago by my in-laws. It's huge and lovely, but unfortunately it's too close to the house and now we're faced with either cutting it down or doing a severe and ugly pruning to protect our roof. Neither alternative appeals to me.

  8. Christine
    Christine says:

    Excellent advice, well said. I once knew a "gardener" who moved trees, shrubs, flowers, whatever, around his yard year after year, trying to find the "right fit". If only he'd had your advice then.

  9. Elephant's Eye
    Elephant's Eye says:

    I'm thinking the owners don't actually see 'plants' as such. They just see that there is A Garden. It's green. There's plants in it. WHAT are you all whining about?! Hurts us to look at it, doesn't it?

  10. Christine
    Christine says:

    Those are the sickliest oleanders I've ever seen in my life!
    It's not so much a lack of reading the tag, in my case it's wishful thinking. I know I do that in terms of exposures for plants.
    There's no good excuse for that bougainvillea, though. Worst choice ever!

  11. Catherine@AGardenerinProgress
    Catherine@AGardenerinProgress says:

    That Rosemary cracks me up, I've never seen a flat one before 🙂
    I have to say there are a few times I've ignored the plant label and hoped it was wrong about the size. I learned the hard way and had to remove some things that got waaaaay to big for their spot.

  12. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Hahaha, i am laughing while you are pissed off. I trully agree with you, looking at those photos. I pity the plants which will encounter lots of prunning and cuttings throughout their lives. I am guilty of that too, but not because of planting the wrong plant in the wrong place, but in the tropics you just see the plants sprouting anywhere in the property, that it alread becomes a tree before you had the time to be back at it. Grrrr. Then to be pacified, just change the perspective and just tell yourself, 'at least we have tall perches for the birds". Happy weekend Noelle.

  13. fairegarden
    fairegarden says:

    A good soap box on which to be standing, Noelle. This is something we see way too much, done by landscapers who should know better. It is one thing for a homeowner to want to fill a blank space with the largest thing they can afford, wrong but understandable. Professionals should help educate the public and their clients, like you do. Those pickers and thorns are a crime so close to walkways.

  14. villager
    villager says:

    The people who used to own our place made this mistake over and over. We're still cleaning up the mess! I thought about putting up a sign that said "Landscaping Mistakes Made By Previous Owner".

    Great post. It can't be emphasized too much!

  15. Rosey Pollen
    Rosey Pollen says:

    Good topic…I think I have made some blunders of this nature in the past. We all have…the amateurs at least.
    I am glad I can read your blog and learn What NOT to DO with plants. I think you could do a tv show and it would have people getting rid of these specimens that don't fit in and getting new ones suggested by plant experts.
    Okay…,maybe only the plant nerds like us would watch it.

  16. Hortist
    Hortist says:

    Noelle, you are very true. Most of the landscapers don't care about the plants how will they look or make the impact after some years. But they should do it to save the house owners from future problems. Further I agree to you that house owners should also take some time to read the label of plants being planted in their homes. have a nice day 🙂

  17. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Thank you all for your comments. This particular post brought out a lot of passionate feelings about what some people do to plants. But, I think Diana from Elephant's Eye put it perfectly. You can see her comment above.

  18. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    I wonder why the oleanders and texas sage arent pruned as shrubs or trees in natural shapes-they seem to have enough room, and they will look better than all that exposed wall.

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