Red Deer County News

Posted on: April 16, 2018

Gardening: Know What You're Buying

Weeds - Ox Eye Daisy.jpg

By Jordon Smith

The spring is always an exciting times for Central Albertans. As the snow recedes and gives way to the grass shoots breaking out of their dormancy period, people’s green thumbs start itching. Greenhouses have been stocking up to fill the demands of the avid gardeners who’ve been so patiently waiting for time of year. But some words of caution before you dive into trying that new exotic looking flower you see on the shelf. It’s best to know what you’re buying; doing some research before any hasty decisions are made can be well worth the effort.

Greenhouses do a great job of ensuring all their products follow legislation, however, sometimes things are beyond their control, such as seed contaminants. Some plants have very similar seeds which can make them extremely difficult to separate using conventional techniques at the processing facility. For example separating white cockle from canola or Jimsonweed from canola. Jimsonweed is an interesting, although extremely toxic, plant that is legislated under the Canada Seeds Act. Seed contaminants are not only limited to agricultural crops so be cautious when buying seed packets. Jimsonweed also serves as an example to highlight another common issue with greenhouse plants and that’s the use of common names.

Common names can be very misleading. For example, Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) has many common names and can sometimes also be called; pricklyburr, thornapple, devil’s trumpet, or moon flower. However there is also a closely related, North American native plant, Datura innoxia, that also goes by the common names; pricklyburr, moonflower, angel’s trumpet and recurved/downy thornapple. Similarly Fleeceflower may refer to a number of plants, but in an ornamental greenhouse setting it commonly refers to Persicaria polymorpha, a very attractive perennial plant. However, it can also be referring to Fallopia japonica or Japanese Knotweed, a prohibited noxious plant under the Alberta Weed Act. Once established Knotweed infestations can be extremely difficult and costly to remove. This is where some research before purchasing can dramatically pay off in the future. So enjoy your plant shopping spree, but be diligent to ensure you know what you’re buying.

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