Consumer Q's

What is meant by the 'texture' of a plant?

Consumer Q’s is prepared by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Gary W. Black, Commissioner.

Question: What is meant by the texture of a plant? I heard that attractive landscapes have both coarse-textured and fine-textured plants.

Answer: Texture is a relative term. There is not a strict definition for what is considered a fine-, medium- or coarse-textured plant. Fine-textured plants generally have small leaves and flowers, and coarse-textured (also called bold-textured) plants have large ones.

Fine-textured plants reflect many small patches of light. Coarse-textured plants reflect fewer, larger patches. You could paint a picture of coarse-textured plants with a broad brush, while fine-textured plants would require a delicate one. Fine-textured plants have more of a light and airy feel, and coarse-textured plants have more of a bold, heavy or tropical feel. Fine-textured deciduous trees and shrubs have a twiggy, perhaps somewhat delicate or intricate, appearance in winter while coarse-textured ones have stouter branches and a more open structure.

A few coarse-textured plants include basswood or American linden, Eastern sycamore, bigleaf magnolia, canna, aspidistra, catalpa, fig, oakleaf hydrangea, cabbage palmetto, banana, caladium, elephant ear and crinum. A few fine-textured plants include Canadian hemlock, cutleaf Japanese maple, honey locust, pond cypress, thyme, rockspray cotoneaster, fennel, Arkansas blue star, winter jasmine, maidenhair fern, abelia, anisacanthus and boltonia. Most plants are considered to be of medium texture.

Texture can vary with the seasons. For example, French hydrangea is generally considered to be medium-textured when in leaf but is definitely coarse-textured when bare. Weeping willow is generally considered to have a fine texture in summer but a medium one in winter.

A landscape or even a small planting with all fine- or medium-textured plants can be monotonous or lackluster. All coarse-textured plants can be overwhelming, and they do not look as bold without some medium- or fine-textured plants for contrast.

There is no right or wrong with texture. However, being aware of the differences in texture can help you create a landscape that is more pleasing and interesting.

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Q: I was told to plant my tomatoes in the evening or on a cloudy day. Why?

A: Some people like to do this if possible because it gives the tomato plants a little more time to become acclimated before a full day of burning sun. However, most good nurseries will harden off tomato plants outdoors before they are sold. Moving a tomato plant (or any plant) from the windless, humid atmosphere of a greenhouse to the outdoors can quickly lead to windburn, sunburn and even death. You should shade tender plants with branches, newspapers or commercial hotcaps until the plants are acclimated to the wind and sun. You should also water your tomato plants thoroughly when you set them out and monitor them every day until they become established.

* * *

Q: Does anyone still sell bundles of tomato plants?

A: You may find a few suppliers who still sell bundles or bunches of bare-root tomato plants, especially if they are selling to farmers or commercial growers.

However, most nurseries and garden centers sell tomato plants grown in cups or other containers because the average home gardener does not need a large number of tomato plants.



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