An exciting new website has been developed by NC State: their Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox has all kinds of features that both new and experienced gardeners will love, including:

“Find a Plant.” Need a plant for that special place in your landscape? Use the drop-down menus to choose:

  • Cultural conditions like sun or shade, wet or dry, soil type and hardiness zone.
  • Plant form, growth habit, flower color and leaf characteristics.
  • Whether you want to attract certain animals or pollinators.
  • Desired pest resistance, problems you want to avoid, and maintenance requirements.
  • From a list of more than 4,000 North Carolina plants the database determines those that satisfy your selected criteria. Then descriptions and pictures of each help you decide what to look for at the local nursery.

“Identify a Plant.” Use the drop-down menus to describe the flowers, leaves, fruit, stems and/or bark to identify any tree, shrub, vine, annual or perennial in the database. Then click on that plant to get detailed cultural information and a list of good cultivars. Last year this writer did a review of several university plant identification sites and found the Toolbox to be the best overall for North Carolina plants. And it is very easy to use.

“Design Gallery.” Over a hundred beautiful gardens are grouped by design features and themes like “Asian,” “Butterfly,” “Children’s,” “Cutting,” “Drought Tolerant” and “Shade.” Pictures taken in multiple seasons are included for most of the gardens. This is a great source for ideas for your landscape.

“Quick Plant Lists” are groups of well researched recommendations in categories like pollinators, wet sites, show stoppers and more.

More plants are being added to the Toolbox regularly. An extensive help section provides hints on how best to use the site, but you don’t have to be a gardening enthusiast or computer geek – just select the plant’s characteristics and the Toolbox gives you options to consider. Also included are links to Extension online courses, NC State gardening sites, and many other horticultural websites.

Give the NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox a try at If you like gardening you will love this site.

Jim Janke is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Haywood County. For more information visit, or call the Haywood County Extension Center at 828-456-3575. ©2021 NC State University. Pictures courtesy the Plant Toolbox.

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