To search, enter the desired keyword(s) and click
the Search button.
PlantFacts will return a list of relevant pages, including
their URLs. Clicking the URL would connect you to the
actual page containing the desired word(s).
PlantFacts makes searchable indexes of factsheets and
bulletins from agricultural web sites found in the United
States and Canada. You can, for example, locate factsheets
or bulletins found on a horticultural site that contain
the words "Rudbeckia" or "coneflower". Pages matching
the search criteria are presented as hyperlinks on the
results page so you can go immediately to what you are
looking for. There are options for both the search page
and results page. The sections below explain those options
and presents some strategies to help search PlantFacts
indexes in the most efficient manner.
When you enter a single word in the search
keywords field and click the Search button,
PlantFacts will look into it's indices for the
word. If it is found the corresponding list of
pages that contain that word is returned as the
search results. This is the most basic type of
search (and often very productive).
If you enter more than one word to search
for, PlantFacts will apply Boolean (and/or) logic
to determine what pages match your search.
By default, PlantFacts performs a Boolean AND search if more than
one word is provided to search with. A search using the words "Rudbeckia
fulgida coneflower" is essentially looking for "Rudbeckia" AND "fulgida"
AND "coneflower" on the same page. Only pages that contain all the
search words are returned.
PlantFacts can be set up to separate the
pages it indexes into regions. This provides the
option to confine searches to particular regions by
clicking the radio button beside the region you
want to search. Only one region can be selected. If
no regions are selected then all regions are
included in the search.
Number of Results
The "Number of matches" popup is used to set a
maximum number of found pages to return on each results page. This
prevents a search that finds several hundred or thousand pages from
creating a very large results page. On pages that show only the first
selection of pages found there is a link to get the next selection.
For example, if searching for "Rudbeckia" finds 80 pages with the
return number set to 10 then the first results page will show pages
1 through 10 and there will be a link to get the next 10 in the selection
(11 through 20), and so forth.
The top of the results page from a search
shows the words used in the search and the number
of pages found. If more pages are found than the
maximum to display, the number of pages listed is
displayed along with the total number found:
Searching for "Rudbeckia" found
80 pages and returned 1 through 10.
The result information for each page found by a
search displays the following information:
- HTML Title (or file name if no title is
- The first 250 characters found on the
- The full URL to the page
Search results are always sorted by relevance
(the most relevant first). Relevance is based on
the number of occurrences and positioning of words
as they appear in each document. For example, words
in the HTML TITLE tag are weighted heavier than
words that are contained in the body of the page.
When detailed results are returned from a
search, each page listed has an option to "Find
similar pages". Each page indexed by PlantFacts
contains a summary string of words most represented
on the page. Clicking the "Find similar pages" link
for a page will make FSD find pages similar to the
selected page. PlantFacts does this by performing a
new search for the most relevant words in the
When searching PlantFacts, you should
think about the words associated with your subject.
If you are looking for information on pruning fruit
trees, entering the following keywords would help
you to narrow your search: "prune fruit tree". This
is better than "how do I prune fruit trees" because
the words "how do I" will be ignored as noise words
If you are searching for nitrogen fertilizer
information, searching on words like "nutrition",
"nutrient", "element", can provide additional
information that might not have appeared when just
searching "nitrogen fertilizer".
Relevant To You
The ability to search specific regions
greatly reduces the number of returned results.
While this may be desirable when searching for
information on crops or specific plants for your
area of the country, it can be problematic for
information which is useful throughout the entire
When To Use
Many extension factsheets are written with
the local hardiness zone in mind. Likewise, most
are written for the environmental conditions which
prevail in the home state. When you require
information that is specific for your particular
hardiness zone, then you should limit your search
to regions which include the hardiness zone for
your area. If the information you require is
specific to your state, then pick either the region
which includes your state or one that is close by.
For example, if you live in a state which borders
one or more regions, then including those regions
in your search may yield additional information
important to you. Not every state has its own
factsheets available online, so choosing a neighbor
state may be your only alternative.
When NOT To Use
When looking for information on house
plants, you should search the entire PlantFacts
Database since the care of houseplants is similar
throughout the United States and Canada. You would
also search all of PlantFacts when gathering all possible
information on a particular subject and do not wish
to be limited by region. This is especially helpful
for student research.