The essential basics to a successful garden!
Step 1: Watering
Watering is one of the most important factors when gardening; plants are made up of 95% water! New hobbyists tend to over water their plants while the more experienced tend to underwater; two simple ways to kill your plants.
A simple way to test your water levels is to stick your finger into the soil. If it’s still moist then leave it alone, if not then water.
Always use warm water, not cold. How would you like to take a cold shower in the morning? Some plants are more sensitive than others, and can get easily shocked by cold water.
When watering, water just the soil and try not to get the leaves and flowers wet. Sometimes this can cause rot and sunlight damage.
For house plants, it’s beneficial to mist down the entire plant during the summer just to wash off any dust that has collected on the foliage; kind of like taking a shower.
Also for indoor plants, place a saucer underneath your pot to catch any excess water that drained out to prevent your furniture from water damage. Also pour out the collected water to also prevent root rot.
Of course, different plants have different water needs. Some are drought resistant and others aren't. Do your research and find out what your plants’ needs are! :)
Step 2: Fertilizing
Fertilizing is also important.
Some plants can live with very little fertilizer, while others need more to perform their best.
When shopping for fertilizer, you will notice three numbers printed on the package. Something like 20-20-20.
Starting from the left most number, they represent NITROGEN, PHOSPHATE, and POTASSIUM respectively.
Nitrogen will help produce foliage. Phosphate will encourage blooming of flowers, and potassium helps with the overall health of the plant.
If you want your lawn to grow very lush or you want your plant to bulk up and grow more leaves, go with something that’s high in nitrogen.
If you want more flowers, go with something that’s high in phosphate.
If you just want something simple and more balanced, go with a 20-20-20 fertilizer. This is an all purpose fertilizer and can be used on pretty much any plant.
There are different types of fertilizer each with different methods of application. There is the water soluble type, which you dissolve in your water. There are granulated types which you will sprinkle onto your soil. There are also spikes which you stick into the soil.
Water soluble fertilizers are absorbed fast by plants, while granulated is slow release. Depending on how busy you are, one type may be better than the other. Follow the instructions on the package for correct usage and measurements.
Step 3: Sunlight
Sunlight is essential for plants to make the energy they need to survive. However, the amount of sunlight needed varies from plant to plant.
Plants that require many hours of sunlight every day needs to be planted in a place that will provide six hours of full sun every day. For example growing a flower that requires a lot of sun like a sunflower under a tree will be difficult because the tree will block light from reaching the flower. This will stunt the growth of the plant, and it would not perform as well.
Plants that cannot take the full sun need to be planted in the shade. Good places for shade plants would be under a tree or beside the house where the sun would be blocked. If planted in full sun, the foliage can be easily burned and damaged.
When landscaping or starting a new flower bed, different levels of sunlight need to be taken into consideration. Plant selection is crucial for a successful garden.
Step 4: Soil
Soil plays a big part of plant health, and selecting the correct soil is essential.
Anything that needs to be potted up in containers or small pots requires POTTING SOIL. DO NOT use the soil in the garden. Potting soil provides good drainage and helps with root growth.
To improve the potting soil, I usually add in vermiculite, perlite and granulated fertilizer. Peat moss also works very well too. If perlite and vermiculite are not available where you live, you can use a bit of sand. These ingredients helps make the soil more light and fluffy which helps with water drainage.
For your garden, use specialized gardening soil. You can improve your garden soil by adding compost or manure.
Prevent water evaporation and protect your plants by using mulch. J
Another thing about container gardening, make sure your container has a drainage hole. This lets excess water drain out and prevents root rot.
Step 5: Plant Care
Dead heading is basically cutting spent blooms. Instead of using energy to put out seeds, the plant will use the energy to grow and produce more flowers.
Picking off dead branches and foliage will prevent diseases and fungus from accumulating.
Pruning can also improve the growth of the plant. Do some research on how to prune your specific plants to get the best results.
As for insects and pests, you can always use pesticides. I tend to get rid of pests the natural way. Some can be simply removed with a damp paper towel, and some can be sprayed off with water. Research different ways to naturally get rid of pest.
Step 6: End
Gardening is fun and anyone can do it. It's very relaxing and can even give you some exercise :)