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Here are some helpful hints to improve your search results!
To search - All searching is done using the single "Search" button at the bottom of the page. You can enter only keywords in the search, or you can only use the parameters and plant characteristics below, or you can use a combination of both. Type in your keywords and/or enter the parametric values, and then simply click the "Search" button. The corresponding results will be shown on a separate "Search Results" page.
On the results page, you can scroll through the list of results to find a plant you would like to look further into. Simply click on that result to go to the corresponding "Plant Data" page. Results are presented in groups of 10 per page, prioritized by order of relevance to your search criteria. If you can't find the plant you are looking for in the top few results, try the search again with different or more specific characteristics or keywords.
To reset - Simply click the "Reset" button at the bottom of the search page. This will set all the values in the parametric search page to default and clear the keyword search.
Include - To require that a particular word must be found in every result of a search, put a "+" sign immediately in front of the word. This is useful if you have a large number of keywords to search, but are particularly interested in one or two of them as a priority.
e.g. +weeping will require that the word "weeping" is found somewhere in every record in the results page.
Exclude - To specifically exclude a word from any result of a search, put a "-" sign immediately in front of the word. This is very handy if you are looking for a particular type of plant in a search, but for whatever reason, another plant which you are not interested in with many cultivars or records gets scored higher and dominates the results.
e.g. -rose will exclude all results containing the word "rose" anywhere in the record.
Phrase - To search for a specific phrase consisting of two or more words in a specific order, put the phrase in quotation marks (" "). This will require that everything inside of the quotation marks must be found in each result exactly as stated in the quotation marks. This can be used to help refine a search if a specific phrase occurs far less frequently than the individual words. For example, the word "silver" occurs very frequently in the database; however, the phrase "silver maple" is far more specific and will give better search results if this is what you're looking for. Note as well that phrases can be combined with the "+" and "-" search limiters to either require a phrase or specifically exclude a phrase from the results.
e.g. "red maple" will only identify entries containing both words "red" and "maple" in that specific order, with a single space in between. It will not, however, select entries with only the word "red" or the word "maple".
To use the new "Hot Button" feature;
The "Hot Button" is a distinctive little checkbox to the left of every parameter in the parametric search. It's a powerful new tool that will help you refine your search even further. Think of it as a way of telling the search tool "This particular characteristic is really important to me!"
Here's how it works. You can use it to narrow in on a very important criteria of your search. If you select a "Plant Type" of "Perennial", the search tool will score perennials higher than other plants, but won't exclude the other plants. However, if you click the "Hot Button" next to "Plant Type", the search results will completely exclude any plant other than perennials.
It's most important use, though, is to help you tell the search engine that certain parameters are more important to you than others. For example, if you were to search for a 40 foot tall perennial (which doesn't exist), how would the search engine know whether you're more interested in perennials or 40 foot trees? By clicking the "Hot Button" next to "Height", you are telling the search engine to first and foremost give priority to results that are in this range of height, even if they aren't perennials.
You can see how this will be useful for refining searches with multiple parameters. If you want a 35 foot tall tree with pink flowers, scarlet fall color and white variegation, which is suitable for acid soils and is going to be planted in full shade, no one plant fits all these criteria. But if above all, you really want the pink flowers, just click the "Hot Button" next to Flower Color to tell the search engine to give priority to this criteria over the others. This kind of refined search is more likely to return what you're really looking for.
So if you do a search on multiple criteria and get search results that seem "all over the map", try using one or two "Hot Buttons" to really get to what's important!
- An error message can mean that your search produced results with only zero scores. This means that either your search was too generic and didn't contain enough information to differentiate between the thousands of plants in the database, or that no plants were found matching your search criteria. If your search was too broad, try adding a couple of parameters to the search to help differentiate between the plants. If your search was too specific so that nothing matched it, try reducing the number of search criteria.
- An error message can mean that your search produced too many results with the same score. It is very unlikely that dozens of results with the same score will be of any use to you, as there will be little to differentiate between the plants. In this case, add some search criteria or parameters to help narrow down your selection. Alternatively, try excluding a specific plant type with numerous cultivars that may be dominating the results.
>> I get too many plants in my search results - how can I narrow them down?
Try adding more parameters to narrow your search. Remember, you can search for both plant names and parameters at the same time! Also, if you're getting too many of the same plant in the results and you want to see other plants, you can remove that plant from the results by putting a "-" sign in front of it's name in the keyword search field.
>> The plants in my search results don't all fit my criteria - what's happening?
You probably have too many search parameters, or conflicting search parameters. When the search engine can't find any plant that fits all of the criteria you have entered, it tries to "guess" what's most important to you and find the best fit, which may not meet all of your search criteria. In this case, you can "tell" it what characteristics are most important to you by clicking on the 'Hot Button' next to one or two key parameters.
>> Can I search for both plant names and characteristics at the same time?
Definitely! Just type the key words or phrases into the keyword or plant name field, and then select one or more parameters and characteristics before running the search.
>> Does the keyword field only search for plant names, or can it be used to search for characteristics too?
While the keyword field searches both plant names and many of the characteristics, it is best used to look for specific plants by common name or botanical name, and combining them with specific parameters to narrow down your search results. When you use the parametric search to locate specific characteristics, the search engine knows exactly what you're looking for, while using the keyword field is less clear. For example, when you search for the word "red" in the keyword field, are you looking for plants with the name "red", or plants with red flowers or fruit?
>> What are the checkboxes on the left-hand side of each search field?
These are the 'Hot Button' checkboxes. Clicking on one or two of them next to parameters you have selected in a complex search to tell the search engine that these fields are "more important" than others, and if it has to choose between conflicting parameters or characteristics, these should take priority.
>> Do I have to click on the 'Hot Button' in order for that field to be searched?
No. To search for a specific parameter or characteristic, all you have to do is select the setting you are looking for on the right-hand side, and it will be included in the search. You only need to click on the 'Hot Button' if you're doing a complex search and you want to tell the search engine to focus on one or two key parameters over the others.
>> How can I remove a particular plant from the search results?
Put a minus ("-") sign in front of the word you want removed from the search results in the keyword field. This will forcibly remove all plants with that word from your search results.
>> Are all the plants in the search results in stock?
Not necessarily. Think of it as a plant catalog that we print every spring; it covers most of the plants we will be carrying that year, but there's no guarantee they will be in stock at any given time. We normally try to enter all of the plants we will be carrying for the season every spring. However, because of substitutions, shortages and our regular sales cycle, plants may or may not be in inventory at the time you're using our plant search tool. It's best to contact the store for availabilities once you've found specific plants you wish to purchase.
>> I just want to see all of the plants you carry sorted by name - how can I do this?
On the search page, click on the link "View All Plants" in the top right-hand corner. Click on one of the plant types you want to see, and you'll get a listing of all the plants we carry of that type. Click on any plant name to see detailed information and photographs.
Click here to return to the search page.
A NetPS Plant Finder tool