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Plant information to go

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At a nursery or home store, you're standing in front of a plant you think would be perfect for a certain spot in your yard. It's on sale, but still pricey. It would be a great deal if it's really what you need. But what if it isn't?

I've been in that situation before. Maybe you have, too. Having a gardening encyclopedia in the trunk of your car so you could consult it would prevent plenty of plant-buying mistakes.

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For those with PDAs or Internet-enabled cellphones capable of accepting a download, there's something just as good, though. It's my favorite online reference in mobile form.

The OSU PocketGardener has much of the same great info as The Ohio State Web Garden site.

If you want to know the pros and cons of Wisteria floribunda 'Texas Purple,' for instance, they're there – along with everything else you could possibly ask about this plant.

There are eight categories of plants – annuals, bulbs, grasses, ground covers, perennials, shrubs, trees, and vines. Just click on them to see what's covered.

You can also choose a version of the program with photos or without. I didn't find that the pictures slowed down my access and I liked being able to see what a mature plant might look like. But the images are very small, so not everyone will want to bother.

The nice thing is, that you can take the program for a test drive before downloading it – both text and photo versions.

Even nicer, the whole thing is free. Thanks, Professor Tim Rhodus. You've made my plant shopping much easier.