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How to identify plants?

Lakewood, CA


First time posting! I am totally new to anything landscaping, gardening, and really anything to do with yard work. I'm just starting to get my feet wet.

I've installed a new lawn, and my next project is to find plants to fill out the rest of my yard.

I am finding a lot of ideas at other peoples homes, parks, etc. How can I identify a plant so I can buy it at my local nursery? Is there a place I can upload a photo and get help from people to identify it for me?

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Yes, just take a photo of the plant in your neighborhood and post it on here to the plant identification forum. The folks on here are awesome at identifying things. To help them out, get a photo not just of the bloom but a shot of the foliage up close, a wide shot to see the growth habit of the whole plant, seed pods if it has them, etc.

Dallas, TX

The first thing you should do is to become familiar with the micro-climate(s) where you live. Like what Zone do you live in? What is your soil like (acidic, alkaline, clay, loam, etc.)? Do you have sun, shade, both? Once you have some answers, then you'll be ready to do a little research about which plants are native to your area and would do well where you're situated. Also make sure to find out which plants are considered invasive. And do you want to attract butterflies, hummers, etc? Some plants are better for this than others. One other thing. When you say that you are finding ideas at other peoples homes, etc., are these homes in your neighborhood or homes you've seen in magazines or online? It's really important to figure out what will grow best in your yard. A lot of people might be planting things w/o thinking thru some of the questions I mentioned. If so, even if their plants look nice, they might be spending a fortune to keep them alive, as well as using way too much water given what appears to be a long-lasting drought.

Ok. So that's just some initial thoughts but I'm not answering your question, am I? Yes, you can upload pictures (called 'Choose a File', see below) and ask if anyone can ID. I suggest that you do this one at a time. If you kinda know what something, try asking on one of the forums that talk about specific plants. For example, there are forums on irises, hostas, trees, roses and I don't know what all. There are also regional forums. For example, I interact with the folks in the Texas Gardening forum. So there are a lot of places to post your pictures.

I'm sure if you browse around DG for awhile, you'll figure out what will work best for you. But you've probably found a good place to start. And if I'm wrong, someone will most likely jump in and correct me. Maybe not another night owl, but shouldn't take long. In fact, while I was typing this treatise, I see where you got an answer from one of my Texas peeps!

Good luck and happy gardening.

This message was edited Jun 8, 2014 2:52 AM

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

The Plant Identification Forum is the best for general ID. If there are certain varieties then the specialty forums are best.
I would start by posting 3-5 pictures of one plant in one thread in the Plant Identification Forum.
Start a new thread about each plant. Include info about where you found the plant.
As suggested above, several pictures close up and distance are best. In the close ups if you can include something for scale (perhaps a ruler, or any other common thing) will help us see the size.

Look on the ground around the plant for fallen flowers or fruit.

As well as knowing your zone, also find out if deer visit your neighborhood.
If you have an open yard the deer can wipe out a landscape overnight!
6' high fencing seems to slow them down, though.

Another place to learn about plants would be local botanical gardens.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

OK, I googled Lakewood.

Middle of the whole Los Angeles metropolitan area.

I doubt you will have problems with deer (but am not sure- there are some open areas around you)

There are MANY botanical gardens, demonstration gardens and so on in the area.
The universities are good places to look for these, and some water companies even have a demonstration garden about drought tolerant plants. Historical buildings might have a garden as part of their display. Go see the missions in your area.

Mostly your USDA zone will be 10, but there are minor variations that you will have to research.

You will have trouble growing fruit that needs a cold winter to set fruit.
You will be able to grow may plants that thrive in summer heat like almost all summer vegetables, and many tropical plants like Bougainvillea.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Welcome to the world of gardening and a big welcome to Dave's Gardening Site.

My advice to a complete Novice / new gardener would be to go along to your local Library, look in the gardening section and glance through any of the books for HOW to make garden beds, Planting garden beds / borders, there are many books written that are absolutely NO use to beginner gardeners as they are far too technical that most new gardeners are put off, to be fare, these books are NOT for beginners.
Another place to search is the book stores, they always have a great selection of picture books with beds and borders already planted, they normally give the flower / shrubs names,
Look for the info of what season the pictures were taken and remember, you want books with info on growing in your zone.
It's a good idea to keep a scrap book of the picture collecting the plants you like, this helps you remember what was growing next to it, the time of year it was in flower, how tall it was etc, that way you end up knowing what you want and where to plant it in the border, back, front and planted beside what ????.
Remember, soil conditions play a huge part in a border of flowers, the border soil should have as much humus / compost Horse manures as you can get hold off, this manure MUST have no smell, if it smells, it is NOT ready for applying to beds, it should be about a year old, look like nice dark brown soil and odour free, this helps hold moisture into to soil, helps retain moisture, helps feed the roots and helps make digging easier when digging / weeding.

Hope everyone has given you enough ideas to get you started, and do remember, mistakes will be made, we all make them, but you learn from them.
Keep asking questions if required.
Best Regards,

Clarksville, TN(Zone 6b)

Quote from steadycam3 :
Yes, just take a photo of the plant in your neighborhood and post it on here to the plant identification forum. The folks on here are awesome at identifying things. To help them out, get a photo not just of the bloom but a shot of the foliage up close, a wide shot to see the growth habit of the whole plant, seed pods if it has them, etc.

Yes, indeed.

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

Learning some of the description words can help. It's not always possible to photograph every detail.

Thumbnail by purpleinopp

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