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The Earth-Kind Plant Selector DOES NOT provide information concerning the potential invasiveness of landscape plants, though plants with a high Earth-Kind Index value will generally be more "aggressive" in their growth habit than plants with a lower value. Please read all instructions for creating an account before linking to the Plant Elements of Design database.
Gardeners love to try new plants, and the long, cold winters in Zones 3 and 4 encourage Upper Midwestern enthusiasm to buy and try a variety of plants in our landscapes. The Plant Elements of Design selection program will help you find plants that match the conditions of your landscaping site. The plant "elements of design" are the characteristics we look for when selecting plants for a particular landscape. To begin using the database, start with the broadest categories by selecting woody plant (trees, shrubs, vines) or herbaceous plant (non-woody plants such as perennials, biennials, and annuals).
Start your search by choosing from the plant and site characteristics described on this page.
Most searches will bring back satisfying results by choosing plant type, soil type, light, height and width.

Plant Type includes choices such as "Evergreen Tree" or "Deciduous Shrub" for woody plants, and "Hardy Perennial" or "Fern" for herbaceous plants. Seasonal interest refers to the season, such as spring or fall, when the plant may provide exceptional color or form. The plants in this database have been determined to be good choices for most Minnesota landscapes meaning they are not included in the Minnesota DNR list of invasive species or noxious weeds, and they are overall good performers in most conditions. Most plants are appropriate for a variety of different kinds of landscape purposes — edible, natural, pollinator-friendly, etc.
All perennial plants in this database are hardy to USDA zone 4 without protection, unless otherwise noted.
Most plants can survive in a wide range of soil conditions with proper care and maintenance.
Landscape designers can use the spreadsheet to create a plant key for a landscape design, for budgeting and for record keeping. If you search for a plant that is 4 to 5 feet wide, has spring seasonal interest, and is disease resistant, the number of matches will be reduced.

If the blossoms on a plant have more than one color or plant varieties have different colors, the plant will be listed under a search for either color. Insects & Wildlife are noted only if the particular plant is highly susceptible or resistant to specific insects or prone to wildlife damage.
The width indicated for herbaceous perennials refers to the width of a well-established plant, usually 3 to 4 years old. Since common names differ greatly and are often used indiscriminately, it is useful to know the scientific names when buying plants to be sure you buy the correct ones.

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