How do I pick the right plants for my garden?


Choosing the right plants for your garden can be a challenge, especially if you are new to the world of gardening. However, I have some good news! Once you understand the basics, then it will become very easy to choose the right plants for your garden and enjoy gardening to the full.

1.      Location

Before choosing a plant simply because it looks beautiful or colourful, it is important to choose the right location for that type of plant. At the very least, you need to have a site in mind before going plant shopping.

The weather conditions imposed by your garden or desired location, such as exposure to the sun and the wind, will guide you in your plant choice.

In Malta, for example, the biggest problems are a very hot sun, lack of rain and water, along with very strong wind.

Unless you have a well or a reserve of water, try and choose plants and trees that do not require continuous watering, especially if you have a very large garden. In Malta, water is very expensive, to say the least. Remember that young trees need more frequent and regular watering during the first two to three years of their growth.

Wind in Malta can also be extremely strong, and sometimes destroys many beautiful gardens that are not protected against it. Flowers, I find, are especially prone to damage from very strong wind. If your plants are in containers, pots, or small planters outside, then you might consider moving them inside your home on windy days.

Some protection from the wind can be achieved by building walls or growing hedges. These shrubs and bushes help provide the garden with some protection from the wind, along with security from certain animals.

Rosemary and Bay Laurel are good options to grow as a hedge and to protect other plants that are not as strong against the wind.

2.      Soil

The type of soil available makes a difference. Not all soil is equal, and you might need to purchase different, additional soil or compost material to mix with the available soil in your garden.

3.      Size

It would also be useful to determine the right type of plant, size, height, width, and general dimensions according to your requirements and available garden space. If a plant is going to be kept in your home indoors, make sure it does not require a strong sun to grow.

Pink flowers
Pink flowers photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

4.      Garden Centres

At this stage, you can visit one of the many garden centres which are usually available in many countries.

In Malta, for example, many garden centres offer a large variety of plants, flowers, trees, gardening gifts, tools, and supplies.

These plant shops would usually have on display popular plants which are in season in that country.

In Malta, for example, some of the most common plants, trees, flowers, and herbs found across plants shops and garden centres include:

  • hibiscus
  • orchid
  • bougainvillaea
  • kalanchoe
  • thyme
  • bird of paradise
  • sunflowers
  • cactus
  • succulents
  • philodendron
  • begonia
  • peace lily
  • anthurium
  • poinsettia
  • coleus
  • ZZ plants
  • olive trees
  • bonsai
  • monstera
  • chrysanthemum
  • dahlia
  • amaryllis
  • calathea
  • spider plants
  • tomatoes
  • basil

Make sure that you take some protective material, boxes or packaging to transport your newly purchased plants from the garden centre to your home, as not all plant shops provide protective packaging.

Strong winds or careless driving can damage plants even before they reach your home.

5.      Look closely

Choosing the right plant to take home with you from the garden centre or plant shop is exciting. Look closely for those plants that show strength and new growth. Remember that the biggest plants are not always the healthiest and look closely for any sign of diseases or pests under the leaves.

Many types of pests, such as whitefly, mealybugs or scales tend to stick to the inside of plants, flowers or under the leaves.

Check for any wilting leaves and try and select plants that show signs of new growth and healthy leaves. Looking for strong, new, young stems or branches can also be a good indication of a healthy plant.

When bringing plants home for the first time, it would be good to keep the new plant away from the rest of your plants and garden for a few days.

This serves as a quarantine period, where you can monitor the new plant well and ensure that if the new plant is infected or sick, it will not influence your current garden.

6.    You: the gardener

The type of plant chosen also depends on you. If you are the type of person who forgets about plants or doesn’t have time to care for them, make sure to choose plants that can resist without care.

Some plants are more robust when faced with a lack of attention. A suggestion could be to go for a ZZ plant that requires only some indirect bright light and a little bit of water once every few weeks.

On the other hand, if you are passionate and crazy about gardening (like I am), then you can afford to get a plant or tree that requires frequent attention and care.

ZZ plant
ZZ plant photo by Ksenia Chernaya from Pexels

7.      Choose local

In many street markets, or on social media, you can find other gardening enthusiasts who sell locally grown plants, most of which are propagated from other locally grown plant species.

This allows you to choose plants that are more resistant to your local climate and conditions, as many garden centres will import plants from abroad to re-sell in their shops.

As a plus, these local enthusiasts will also have very good prices on their plants, flowers, and trees.

Also, check out any local government tree nurseries, that may be selling local species of plants and trees at reasonable prices.


The above will help you get started in your gardening journey. Choosing the right plants for your garden can be a daunting challenge, but if you keep some basics in mind, garden shopping can become very exciting.

If you have any questions or suggestions, or anything I can help with, feel free to comment below, on my social media pages or by email at Happy Gardening!

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