Setting Up A Plant Database

Yeah, I know this sounds super boring, but to someone who is trying to get a handle on what's growing  in your garden, its a must. I know personally that my brain can only handle so much and I often forget that I have planted certain things. A plant database is also helpful when people come over to look at your garden and want to know the name of each plant. This is a chance for you to appear as a super genius for knowing the scientific names for your plants.

I'm going through this process right now, myself. Its easier to identify a cultivar and variety of a plant when its in full bloom and at its maximum height. If I look through a few good plant databases online, I then have enough information to find what I need.

A few good resources I like to use are:

Dave's Garden - PlantFiles - Non-subscribers are limited to 10 searches per day, but I love the details provided and the great pictures. The feedback from contributors is helpful also. If you subscribe, then you have access to an unlimited amount of searches.

USDA - Plants Database - Great Resource with reliable information that can be broken down by states. It also includes Canada U.S territories, France and Denmark. Printable Fact Sheets and Plant guides are available if you want to create a binder for your garden

The Plant Encyclopedia - This is like the Wikipedia community for plants. Its goal is to collect plant information from around the world. There are already 300,000 plants listed.

There are many others that are state specific, so I'm sure you can find what you need.

**Word of Caution - If you google a plant, be wary of what pops up as reliable. Its better to use information from a university, government agency or other research based guide. You just don't know what you're going to get otherwise.

To make your plant database shine:

  • Take photos of each of your plants when they are at the peak of season for them. 
  • Note growing requirements - sun, shade, water & soil requirements
  • Propagation method and best time to do so
  • Note if its an annual, bi-annual or perennial
  • If seed producing - how to collect & store
  • Dead-heading & pruning needs
  • Supplemental feeding requirements
  • Potential problems such as pests and diseases prone to
  • Hardiness -weather cold or hot and Zone information 
Don't be intimidated that you can't get all of the information, but build it as you go. Now is a great time to start. There is plenty to keep you busy. You will thank yourself later.


  1. The previous owners of our house left the blueprint that a landscaper who'd done a lot of planting for them created. Without it I wouldn't know the names of half the trees and shrubs in the yard.

    When my husband plants his vegetable garden in spring, he hand draws a grid then writes which plants he put where. I post it on a family bulletin board so when the next spring rolls around he can see what he planted where and decide if that was a good spot or if he should move something.


  2. Melissa, my husband and I inherited two large yards filled with flora at our new home. For the first year, I did what you suggested here and just took photos (with date stamps) of everything as it popped up. I haven't taken the next steps. Thanks for these suggestions.

  3. @Michelle - That was quite a nice gift from the previous homeowner!

    Its great that your husband makes a chart for your vegetables. Its hard to remember from one year to the next. Something too that may help to you - Vegetable plants need to be rotated around in your garden from year to year. It helps prevent disease and balance out nutrient needs. Thankfully almost all need full sun, so it should be pretty easy.

  4. @Alison - You're welcome. Every little bit helps. :) Getting the pictures is a big step so you can now just start filling in the information. Good luck to you!

  5. I keep a garden journal, although I really like the idea of a database. In the journal I jot down notes about what plants went where during a particular year, but also how happy I was with them (or wasn't), how they bloomed (or didn't, produced (or didn't), etc. It also helps me remember when I planted seeds, put in perennials (and where), and why I might have chosen a particular plant in the first place. Thanks for a great piece!

  6. @JoanLambertBailey - Thanks. I like the idea of keeping a garden journal! I can't tell you how many packets of seeds I scattered and then forget what I planted. I know people who keep track of a lot of their regular garden chores by keeping a journal from year to year. Great idea also!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...