Plant Crown: Why It's Important to a Gardener

Most Plant Crowns Should Be Right at Soil Level

Tulips in a garden
Steve Satushek / Getty Images

One of the keys to being a successful gardener is knowing the technical information about plants. It's pretty simple stuff, but sort of like reading the directions before you use a new smartphone, it pays to know what's what before you begin so your garden gets the best start possible. One of a plant's essential parts is its crown.

Perennials, Annuals, and Shrubs

Whenever you plant a perennial, annual or shrub you need to know what the crown of the plant is and how to handle it properly so the plant is healthy.

The crown is the place where the plant stem meets the roots, the point where the energy and nutrients from the roots are transferred to the stems and then to the beautiful flowers that are your gardening reward.

Whether they are planted in the ground or in a container, most plants are planted so that the crown is right at soil level. Burying the crown lower than soil level can often lead to crown rot and the eventual death of the plant. 

Clematis and peonies are two of the few plants that do well when the plant crown is planted a few inches below soil level. Bulbs, like tulips and daffodils, and tubers, like tuberous begonias and cyclamen, are also planted with the crown slightly below soil level.

When you plant perennials or annuals early in the spring, a little mulch covering the crowns provides a bit of protection in case of a late frost.

Trees

So where are the crowns of trees? The branches of a tree form its crown, and the shape of the crown is one of a tree's identifying characteristics.

Larger trees that capture more light are said to have dominant crowns, and smaller ones, which need less light, are called understory trees.