December 21, 2010

New Year's Resolution 1: Maintain Records of Purchased Plants

For over a week, I've been working on cataloging my plants, and right now, I'm VERY glad I kept so many plant tags and labels.  It would have been agonizing to have tried to research, identify, and remember every single one.  I have roughly 200 entries so far, and I'm not done.  There are still a few that I haven't cataloged yet.  Probably the best news of going through my old plant tags is that I've discovered the names of plants I couldn't identify any longer.  So my first New Year's Resolution is to catalog each plant I purchase or acquire as soon as I get home.

I'm going easy on myself by only using index cards with pertinent information such as plant size and where it was acquired.  I'm including information that will be important should I need to look up further information on the plant, know where I can purchase more, be able to gauge how well the plant does under my care, and discover places to avoid purchasing plants should they consistently die.  I'm also recording the price so I have some idea of what the plant is worth and what I've paid for the plant in the past should I want another.  If plants came with tags with the picture of the plant, I'm gluing those tags to the card, and if the label has all the information and isn't cumbersome, I'm gluing the entire label to the card.  It saves a bit of time, and if the tag is REALLY good, I'm scribbling the extra information onto it.

I'm filing them in a way that makes sense to me and not necessarily someone else, and of course, there are some regional categories particular to my climate.  For instance, I have woody lilies and woody perennials.  The woody lilies category includes dyckia, aloes, and agaves although I could have categorized them differently such as making a bromeliad category with the dyckias, pineapple plants, and tillandsias.  The woody perennials category includes tacoma and lantana which are shrubby plants that typically die to the ground during the winter but return in the spring.  Of course, there are some plants that could go in several categories.  I have placed poinsettias in the houseplants and tropicals category rather than in the succulents - euphorbia category, but generally, I think of poinsettias more as a tropical houseplant than a euphorbia.  Fortunately, I'm including the botanical name along with common names on the cards, so I can reorganize easily should I ever choose to.

The reason I'm doing this is so that I know what plant is what and so I can tell others what each plant is.  I like talking about the plants I have, and I like sharing them.  I have a number of plants with no name at all because I was never given a name and haven't bothered to request identification online.  I suspect a lot of people are guilty about not recording plant names and other information, and so plants continue to go through hands without a name.  I bought a plant labeled Dutchman's Pipe (e.g., Aristolochia elegans), but it's Basket Plant (Callisia fragrans).  Another reason why I want to make sure I have all the names is for plant shows - it's bad form to not know what you're submitting, and it's a pain to research the plant last minute when you've finally decided it's going to the show.  Last year, I got 3 Best of Section, and I would like to win more which means entering more plants in the future.  I gotta know what they are to fill out the entry tag, right?  If nothing else, knowing more about plant names will make me a better gardener and a smarter plant shopper.  Hopefully.  I would like to photograph each new one for this blog, but that might be something for next year.


  1. This is a great idea and one I am planning to do. I bought MicroSoft Access a few months ago and am planning to create a plant database from my tags, with the photos scanned in as I can. I was seeing it as a winter project, but have only gotten as far as loading the software, so far.

    You've given me encouragement! Thanks.

  2. Hmmm, do you hire out!?! I would like to get something like this done as well - probably not to the detail you're thinking but at least a list of what I've got and their names! Knowing me though, this will fall in line behind the other gazillion projects I would like to do. I'm hoping to get a few mosaic projects done this winter and they've been on my heart a lot longer than the id project. But, hopefully someday...

  3. oh my goodness, that is a great winter project. You have a lot more energy for organization that I do!

  4. Let's see if it let me comment today. I think this is a brilliant idea! So much so that I linked to your blog when I posted the idea for my new year goals.


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