You’re not alone. Every spring, people run into beautiful flowers and vegetables in nurseries and hardware stores and fall hard to temptation. This year, you swear, you will have a successful garden! So, what can you do to keep all those plants filling your trunk not only living but thriving? Here are some basics to get you started.
- Strategize About Sunlight
Most flowers and vegetables require about six hours of sunshine a day, but read your labels carefully. Also, realize that plants react differently to filtered morning soon and late southwest sun. Your beautiful “partial sun” hydrangea or gardenia might turn crispy if left in the hot afternoon sun. Similarly, sun-loving hot peppers may never produce if you live in an area with foggy afternoons. Watch your yard closely before selecting a final space for your plants.
- Strengthen Your Soil
Resist placing those lovely roots into nutrient-starved soil. First, get to know your soil with a simply pH testing kit. This will indicate which plants work best in which areas, and where you need a boost of minerals for an ideal environment. Regardless of the pH preparation, most new plants require a jump start of nutrients. Add either a synthetic soil booster, organic planting materials, such as manure or compost, or an organic fertilizer blends, tailored to your plants
- Place with Space
It’s easy with the excitement of new plants to place as many as possible, but those space recommendations on your plant tags are no joke. Crowded plants rob each other of light, water and nutrients, leaving them smaller, weaker and vulnerable to pest and disease damage. As well, plants create their own humidity. Without adequate circulation among plants, powdery and downy mildew as well as rust feels right at home.
- Water Well
Limit water on a plant’s leaves by choosing soaker hoses or drip irrigation for watering. If your garden does require hand watering, pull foliage out of the way to only water the roots. Again, look at the tags on your specific plants to see how much water a plant needs. If you live in areas that tend to get a lot of rain, morning dew or fog, pay extra attention to your leaves to make certain fungus doesn’t have a chance to spread. And remember, even in a drought, too much of a good thing is … well, too much of a good thing! Overwatering promotes fungus and root rot.
- Know Your Nutrients
Fertilizers produce wonderful and disastrous results, depending on your knowledge. Too much fertilization burns roots, and this eventually inhibits their water absorption. However, plants desperate for a healthy diet show signs of stress, such as yellowing or spotty leaves and even foliage drop. A little research about your plants helps you strike the right balance for your fertilization. Also, remember to keep your pH tester from planting handy to continuously check soil conditions – especially after heavy rains. Amend soil as needed for the best results.
Gardening consists of a lot of trial and error – from placement to maintenance. However, look at each success and failure as a learning experience leading to a beautiful future. With a little knowledge and dedicated attention, you’ll be in full bloom before you know it.