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Searching PlantFiles (tutorial)

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Many members have asked us for some how-to advice on searching within PlantFiles. Hopefully this will help all members become more comfortable using our search engine to find the plant they're seeking.

Let's start by searching for a plant by name.

See the picture below to locate this button on the PlantFiles main page. Here's a link to where it takes you: http://davesgarden.com/pf/adv_search.php?Search=Click+here+to+search+for+plants

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

If you only know its common name, that's okay! Just fill in the common name field with all or part of the plant's name. See the picture below to locate the field you can fill in with what you know.

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

For example, you're searching for a plant called "Pretty Betsy".

When you enter it in that field (see photo below), here are your results:
http://davesgarden.com/pf/adv_search.php?searcher%5Bcommon%5D=pretty+betsy&searcher%5Bfamily%5D=&searcher%5Bgenus%5D=&searcher%5Bspecies%5D=&searcher%5Bcultivar%5D=&searcher%5Bhybridizer%5D=&search_prefs%5Bsort_by%5D=rating&images_prefs=both&Search=Search

Note: This common name is unique, so there is only one search result, which isn't always the case. Next we'll cover those more common "common names".

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Now let's say you want to look up 'Mr. Lincoln' rose. There are over 3,000 roses listed in the database, so if you just type "Rose" in the common name field, you're going to be searching through your results for a long time.

There are three ways to look for a particular rose - two types of searches, and a browse.

We'll start with a search similar to the one we just did, but filling in the common name and cultivar name fields.

When we do, here are results: http://davesgarden.com/pf/adv_search.php?searcher%5Bcommon%5D=rose&searcher%5Bfamily%5D=&searcher%5Bgenus%5D=&searcher%5Bspecies%5D=&searcher%5Bcultivar%5D=mr.+lincoln&searcher%5Bhybridizer%5D=&search_prefs%5Bsort_by%5D=rating&images_prefs=both&Search=Search

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Not sure whether it's 'Mister Lincoln' or 'Mr Lincoln' or 'Mr. Lincoln'?

Punctuation and spelling are crucial, as the search engine is looking for an exact match to your search criteria.

If you're not finding the results you think you should, try leaving out the questionable punctuation or spell just the part of the word you know is correct. In this case, - in this case, a search just for "rose" and "Lincoln" will lead you to just a couple results to view and compare: http://davesgarden.com/pf/adv_search.php?searcher%5Bcommon%5D=rose&searcher%5Bfamily%5D=&searcher%5Bgenus%5D=&searcher%5Bspecies%5D=&searcher%5Bcultivar%5D=lincoln&searcher%5Bhybridizer%5D=&search_prefs%5Bsort_by%5D=rating&images_prefs=both&Search=Search

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

The second way to look for a cultivar is to use the "browse by cultivar" list. There you'll find the most popular cultivars in our database.

Hint: for non-subscribed members, this is an option that can help you save your searches for when you really need them.

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

If you select "Roses" from the list, you'll be taken to this page: http://davesgarden.com/pf/finder/index.php?sname=Roses&submit=submit

In this area, you'll find a link to each letter of the alphabet (see picture below.) Click on the first letter of the cultivar name to start browsing. (Using our example, click on "M" to look for Mr. Lincoln.).

Note: on this page, you'll also find the top ten roses in our database (based on comments submitted); the ten most photographed roses in PlantFiles, and the most recently added images. You can help influence these "top ten" lists by submitting photos and comments for your favorite cultivars!

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

The third way to search for a plant is the Advanced Search

(Note: this feature is only available to subscribers.)

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

When you click on the link circled in the above photo, you'll be taken to this page: http://davesgarden.com/pf/advanced.php

As you begin your advanced search, you can either look for ANY plant that meets your criteria, or you can narrow your search down to a particular group of plants.

To finish our example, we'll first search for a particular rose by its attributes.

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

The series of checkboxes are all the different criteria you can specify. You can choose as few or as many criteria as you want - the more you choose, the fewer results you'll have; and the fewer criteria you stipulate, the more plants will be included in your results.

For this example, I chose to limit my search to:

Type (Hybrid Tea)
Hardiness (to zone 7a)
Bloom color (Dark red)

Not surprisingly, the results include Mr. Lincoln: http://davesgarden.com/pf/advanced.php?nn%5B70%5D=12&nn%5B1%5D=0&nn%5B2%5D=0&nn%5B3%5D=12&nn%5B56%5D=15&nn%5B57%5D=0&nn%5B42%5D=0&nn%5B7%5D=0&nn%5B58%5D=0&nn%5B59%5D=0&nn%5B60%5D=0&nn%5B61%5D=0&nn%5B23%5D=0&nn%5B10%5D=0&sname=Roses&Search.x=49&Search.y=12

When you see your results, you can always use your browser's "back" arrow to go back and modify (add, change or de-select) your search criteria.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

If your advanced search is for a plant not listed (or you're not sure exactly what kind of plant you're looking for), the Advanced Search can help you narrow down your possible choices.

Click on the first link to show you all plants within your specifications. (See photo below.)

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

When you choose that option, it will take you to this page: http://davesgarden.com/pf/advanced.php?sname=Plants

Now you can search for plants within a general category (bulbs, ground covers, annuals, epiphytes, etc.)

You can also specify height, bloom time, bloom color, hardiness, sun exposure, type of foliage, moisture requirements, etc.

As before, you can specify as few or many criteria as you'd like - the more critieria you specify, the more specific your results will be.

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

And finally - the catch-all generalized search If you just know a part of the plant's name, and you aren't sure if it's the common name, botanical name, cultivar, or maybe the hybridizer's last name, don't despair! You may still be able to track it down with the generalized search.

First click on the green search button in the upper right hand corner (see photo below)

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Using our "Mr. Lincoln" example, let's say you just know the plant's name contains the word "Lincoln."

Type that into the field, and you'll see all the possible results: http://davesgarden.com/pf/search.php?search_text=Lincoln&images_prefs=both&Search=Search

Thumbnail by Terry
Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

This quick tutorial is designed to cover the most common PlantFiles search-related questions. If you have suggestions or feedback regarding this tutorial, or have more questions, please post them here: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/608667/

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