Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Read the plant label
Read the directions, read the label… blah blah blah! It’s a good idea! 😉
There are plenty of plants that have the same “first” name but are completely different! Case in point:
The first name is the genus, the second is the species. While the both had the same cultural requirements, they behaved very differently…
Let’s take Viburnum for instance. This group of shrubs consists of more than 150 species and cultivars. Light preferences can vary from full sun to shade, heights vary from 2 feet to 30 feet and, some berries are edible while others are not! You really need to know what cultivar will fit your needs. The Viburnum called ‘Highbush Cranberry’ is known as Viburnum Trilobum in latin. (which they’ve changed the name on me… to opulus americanum) This bush will grow to 15 feet tall, is hardy to zone 2 and the red fruit is often made into jams and jellies.
This cultivar is also known by several other names such as as American Cranberry, dog rowan, rose elder, and sometimes gets confused with European cranberry bush.
Contrast that with another viburnum, ‘Compact Korean Spice’ or viburnum carlesi reaches just 5 feet tall, has fragrant flowers and blue/black fruit fit for wildlife.
Keep in mind that there are many different cultivars as well. That means there are some that are “dwarf” or have varied color or something else that breeders have done.
Latin names can be really tough to pronounce and nearly impossible to remember, however, they provide a lot more information than the common names do!
It all comes down to reading the plant label very carefully. Especially when selecting more expensive shrubs and trees. you want to make sure you’re really getting what you want!