If you have questions, comments or suggestions about using the search, please contact us.
This feature is designed especially to help you match plants with the environmental conditions of the site you are planting, including:
- Light (the amount of direct sunlight the site receives)
- Cold-hardiness (USDA Hardiness Zone)
- Salt tolerance (salty soil and/or spray)
- Soil pH (acidity or alkalinity)
- Soil moisture (from very wet to prolonged dryness)
You can also use search to:
- Find a plant if you know its name (either botanical or common).
- Focus your search by plant size or whether the plant is deciduous or evergreen.
In addition, there are special collections of plants for specific purposes:
The species included in this database were selected for the HORT/LA 4910/4920 courses, which focus on woody plants used for landscaping in New York and the Northeast – particularly in challenging urban environments. The detailed information about each species is based on the experiences of the instructors, Nina Bassuk in the Department of Horticulture and and Peter Trowbridge in the Department of Landscape Architecture.
For more information on choosing and managing woody plants in these settings, visit the Urban Horticulture Institute website.
Tip: When searching for a combination of ornamental or environmental characteristics, just ignore those characteristics that you don’t want to affect your search results. Leave the boxes unchecked or the radio buttons or drop down set to ‘Any …’.
Plant Name Search
If unsure of the correct spelling when searching by name, try searching by a portion of the name that you are sure of. For example, if you can’t remember how to spell Symphoricarpos, try entering 'Symph' which will return the species you are looking for. If you can’t remember if Basswood is one word or two, just enter ‘Bass’.
Be sure to choose the correct radio button in the advanced search -- 'Botanical Name' or 'Common Name' -- before clicking on search.
Plant Characteristics Search
Choose the size or type of plant that you are searching for. Select more than one box if you want to include a range of different plant sizes. For example, if you are looking for a small tree or large shrub, click the boxes for ‘Tree < 30 feet’ and ‘Shrub > 8 feet’.
Leave all boxes unchecked if you don’t want plant size to affect your search.
Evergreen plants are those that retain their leaves through winter in Ithaca, N.Y. (USDA Hardiness Zone 5). Some deciduous species that lose their leaves here in Ithaca may be evergreen in warmer locations. See details page descriptions for more information.
Leave ‘Any type’ selected if you don’t want deciduous or evergreen to affect your search.
Choose the level of light the site receives during the growing season:
- Full sun: Receives more than 6 hours of direct sun per day.
- Part shade: Receives direct sun (often morning sun) for less than 6 hours, or filtered light (as would be common under a tree with fine-textured leaves) for most of the day.
- Full shade: Receives little or no direct sunlight, or receives less than 6 hours of filtered light.
You can choose more than one box if your site is borderline and your query will return plants from either light level. Be sure to check the details page for each species for more information about that species particular light requirements.
Leave all boxes unchecked if you don’t want light to affect your search.
From the drop-down box, choose the USDA Hardiness Zone for the site you’re planting. The results will return plants that can survive winters in that Zone. In other words, your query will return all plants hardy in that Zone and warmer zones.
Leave ‘Any’ selected if you don’t want USDA Hardiness Zone to affect your search.
USDA Hardiness Zones are based on minimum winter temperatures. Find more information about USDA Hardiness Zones at the Cornell Gardening Resources website.
If you are unsure of your Zone, you can look it up on these maps:
- New York
- United States (USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map)
- Interactive map (USDA)
Keep in mind that these maps are approximations. Your actual Zone may be slightly warmer or cooler based on its microclimate. For example, urban environments and areas near large bodies of water may be warmer in winter.
If salt from runoff from roads or salt spray affect your site, you can select for plants that tolerate salty soil, salt spray or both. There is relatively little solid research on salt tolerance for most of the species in the database. So choosing one of these options will limit your search to those few species whose salt tolerance is well documented.
Leave ‘Any value’ selected if you don’t want salt tolerance to affect your search.
Choose the condition which best represents your planting site:
- Requires acid (pH 5.0 to 7.0) – This choice will return plants that should be considered only on sites with acid soils (pH < 7).
- Can tolerate acid to neutral soil (pH 5.0 to 7.4) – This choice will return plants that should be considered only on sites with acid to near very slightly alkaline soil (pH < 7.4).
- Can tolerate acid to alkaline soil (pH 5.0 to 8.0) – This choice will return plants that tolerate a wide range of soil pH.
Leave ‘Any range’ selected if you don’t want soil pH to affect your search.
Choose the soil moisture conditions that best describe your site. You can choose more than one box, and the search will return all plants that will tolerate any of the conditions selected.
Note that choosing ‘Consistently moist, well-drained soil’ will do little to narrow your search as nearly all plants in the database perform well under those conditions. Some plants, such as Stewartia pseudocamellia, only thrive under a very narrow range of soil conditions (in this case, only moist, well-drained soil). Others, such as Quercus bicolor, perform well under a wide range of conditions (in this case, from temporarily flooded to somewhat dry soils).
See the details page for each species returned in your search for more detailed information about preferred soil moisture conditions.
Leave all boxes unchecked if you don’t want soil moisture to affect your search.