Before you start gardening, look through these important gardening tips, whether you are an expert or not. This way, all your plants will grow well and remain healthy.
It may seem like a lot to take in when you first start gardening, and that’s perfectly normal. For example, how do you plant vegetables? Secondly, what is the best type of soil for a garden? More so, when is the time to trim hydrangeas and separate hostas? Finally, are your plants getting enough water and sunlight? The good thing is that nature is a master educator. Over time, you will learn what works better for your gardening practises. In the meantime, beginners can use this compilation of easy tips on cultivating plants to find answers to commonly asked questions about gardening. Henceforth, as you cultivate food crops and beautiful flowers in your compound, always remember to have fun!
Identify Your USDA Hardiness Zone: This is essential in determining what kind of plant species can thrive in your region. It helps you know which trees, shrubs, and flowers can survive the winter temperatures where you live. Moreover, it indicates the right time to plant vegetables, such as fruits or flowers, outside during the spring season.
- Find out your USDA Hardiness Zone. This will help you decide what plants to grow in your area. It tells you which trees, shrubs, and flowers can survive in the winter where you live. It also helps you know when it’s safe to plant veggies, fruits, and flowers outside in the spring.
2. If you’re not sure when to trim your plants, focus on spring-flowering shrubs like lilacs. Trim them right after the flowers are gone. These shrubs make their flower buds in the fall on the growth from the previous year. If you trim them in the fall or winter, you take away the buds for next spring’s flowers.
3. Use only old, well-decomposed manure in your garden. Manure that’s fresh can harm plants because it has too much nitrogen and might carry harmful germs. Don’t use manure from pigs, dogs, or cats in your garden or compost, as it could contain parasites that can make people sick.
4. Perennial plants usually take three years to grow to their full size after planting. Remember the saying that they “sleep, creep, and leap” in each of the first three years?
5. Find out how long your growing season is (from the last frost in spring to the first frost in fall). This will help you decide whether to start certain plants indoors or avoid growing them.
6. Taking off old flowers is a good thing to do for plants that live for more than one year and for plants that only live for a year. Annual plants want to make flowers, make seeds, and then stop living. When you remove the old flowers, it tells these plants to make more flowers. Also, taking off old flowers makes plants use their energy to make stronger leaves and roots instead of making more seeds. Don’t take off old flowers from plants that are grown mainly for their decorative fruits or pods, like money plants (Lunaria).
7. Different plants have different sunlight requirements. To grow vegetables, put them in a place that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. Most vegetables need plenty of sun so they can produce lots of vegetables. If there is any shade, you might try growing vegetables that prefer cooler weather, like lettuce, spinach, radishes, or cabbage.
8. Keeping your garden free from weeds is best done by pulling them out with your hands or using a hoe. Be careful not to dig too deep or otherwise disturb the soil, as that can make more weed seeds grow. Continuously remove weeds so as to prevent them from producing seeds. Alternatively, put mulch over the soil so that new weeds do not get to grow on it.
9. For hostas, you only need to divide them if you want to make an old plant healthier, have more plants, or just like the look of individual plants. The best times to divide hostas are in the spring, when new shoots come up and before the leaves open, or in the fall, at least four weeks before the soil freezes.
10. Not all hydrangeas like shade. Panicle hydrangeas, like ‘Limelight,’ Little Lime, Vanilla Strawberry, and Bombshell, need sunlight to bloom best.
11. Don’t tidy up your garden completely in the fall. Keep ornamental grasses for beauty, and leave the seed heads of perennials like coneflowers for the birds to eat. Don’t trim back perennials that might struggle in the winter, like garden mums, to help them survive the cold weather.
- Tip for growing vegetables: Tomatoes ripen best when it’s not too hot, ideally between 68 and 77°F. If it gets too hot, like at 85°F, the plants can’t make the pigments (lycopene and carotene) that give the fruit its colour. When the temperature consistently goes below 50°F, green tomatoes won’t ripen outside. If your tomatoes have a little colour, you can bring them inside to finish ripening.
- To plant spring-blooming bulbs like tulips, fritillarias, ornamental alliums, and crocuses, do it in the fall before the ground freezes. Dig a hole two to three times deeper than the bulb. Most hardy bulbs only need to be planted once and will come up every year, except for hybrid tulips. Pull them up after they bloom, plant new tulip bulbs each fall, or choose tulip species that come back every year.
- After spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils and hyacinths bloom, remove the spent flowers so the plant puts energy into the bulbs instead of making seeds. Keep the leaves until they turn brown and can be easily pulled off. The leaves store nutrients the bulb needs to bloom next year. Don’t braid or tie the leaves because it blocks light and isn’t good for the plant.
15. To make plants grow well, good soil is more important than fertiliser. Add things like compost and well-aged manure to your soil. The soil should be crumbly, easy to dig, and take in water easily. It should also be loose so plant roots can get oxygen. If you use fertiliser, use an organic one with nitrogen, phosphate, and potash.
16. The best time to move spring-blooming plants is late summer or early autumn. Plants like irises, peonies, hostas, and daylilies are usually moved this way.
17. If your rhubarb plant starts growing flowers, take them off. This helps the plant focus on making leaves instead of seeds.
18. When you move plants from containers to the ground, dig a hole twice as wide as the plant’s soil ball. Plant it at the same depth as it was in the container. Fill the hole with the soil you dug out, not bagged soil.
19. Plant potatoes deep in the soil and keep harvested ones in the dark. If potatoes get exposed to light, the skin turns green. This means the potato makes a bitter toxin called solanine. If you eat a lot of it, you could get sick. Cut off any green parts or sprouts on potatoes to avoid this.
20. Most garden plants do well with 1 to 2 inches of water each week. If it doesn’t rain enough, water deeply once a week instead of a little bit every day. Watering a little bit often only wets the top soil and makes the plant’s roots stay near the surface instead of growing deep.
21. Don’t throw away your autumn leaves! Instead, chop them up and use them for compost. Crushed leaves can be left on the lawn to make it healthier. After a few freezes, when plants are not growing, you can also put 3-6 inches of shredded leaves on top of delicate plants to protect them during the winter. Take off the leaf covering in spring.
- Don’t dig or plant in wet soil; it hurts the soil. Wait until the soil is crumbly and doesn’t form a ball when you squeeze it (it doesn’t have to be completely dry) before digging or planting.
- Know if your soil drains well. Roots need air, and if your soil is always wet, there’s no room for air. Many plants like well-drained soil, so add organic materials to make your soil better.
- Some plants need specific amounts of daylight to start flowering. For example, chrysanthemums, poinsettias, and strawberries require longer nights to bloom. If you want strawberries to bloom and make fruit when it’s between 35°F and 85°F, choose a kind labelled “day-neutral.”
- Plants that originally come from where you live often grow better there than plants from other parts of the world. They’re also better for local pollinators that evolved with them. If you want to grow plants to help pollinators, avoid newer varieties with double flowers because the extra petals make it difficult for insects to reach the nectar and pollen.