Spring has sprung and it’s the perfect time to plant and tend to your indoor/ outdoor garden.
What’s this? You don’t HAVE a garden? You don’t even own any plants? You think your green thumb is black?! Not to worry. With the right tools anyone can be a plant parent. That’s right… ANYONE!
This is coming from someone who used to think that she couldn’t keep a plant alive to save her life. When I moved into my first apartment that had some backyard space, my Mom insisted that I have a small garden there. I kept telling her that I wasn’t sure I could do it, but she was patient with me. She helped me pick the right plants, the right pots to put them in, and she taught me when to water them and how to make sure they were getting the right amount of light. Pretty soon I was hooked and saw these plants as my little pets. I find it very relaxing to be out there tending to my garden, and the reward is fantastic when your plants start to grow and bloom!
So before I give you my steps to starting a garden, let me dispel some rumors that can prevent people from wanting to become a plant parent:
Cacti are very easy to kill!! – I can’t tell you how many people have told me “I’m not good with plants Megan. I’ve even killed a cactus before!” Well you know what, so have I! There is this perception that cacti are super easy to take care of, but they are actually very picky plants. They require a lot of light and they need to be watered so infrequently it ridiculous. If you over-water them even just a little bit, they can die. As a beginning gardener, you want a plant that can be over-watered or under-watered and still do OK.
Sometimes plants just die – this is a basic rule of gardening. Some of your plants are going to die, and it’s not always your fault. Maybe they didn’t get enough light, or maybe the weather was too extreme for them, or maybe it was just their time to go. I can’t tell you how many plants I’ve had that just didn’t make it for one reason or another. It’s sad, but it happens to all of us. All you can do is find another plant and try again.
Container gardening is the way to go – Putting your plants into pots (instead of into the ground) is a great way to get your green thumb going. Different plants need different kind of access to the sun (shade loving vs. sun loving plants) and each area of your yard/home gets a different amount of sun. If your plant is in a pot, and you can see it starting to show signs of being unhappy (wilting for not getting enough sun or leaves burning because they are getting too much sun) all you have to do is move the pot! Problem solved.
So without further adieu, here are a few steps I recommend to get your green thumb on:
Step 1 – assessing the light. Think of where you would like to put a new plant, (especially indoors vs. outdoors) and take note of what kind of light that area received through out the day. This is going to be very important information when you are choosing what kind of plant you will get.
Step 2 – choosing the right plant. Try and get a plant that’s no too picky. I like spider plants (because they do well inside and outside and are good in lower light areas), baby roses (they are very hearty and if they get a lot of light they will be happy), and various succulents (these guys are in the cactus family, but they like more water and generally do very well with a good amount of light). The best place to go to get a plant is your local nursery. Tell the clerks where you are planning to put your plant, what kind of light that area gets, and make sure to tell them you want a plant that is hearty and easy to take care of.
Step 3 – buying the right pot. This is probably the single greatest tip I can give you for success as a plant owner…buy a pot with a hole in the bottom. It doesn’t really matter what the pot is made of, just make sure there is a nice big hole in the bottom of it. This is essential because if you give your plant too much water (which happens all the time) the extra water will just drain out the bottom. If there’s no hole at the bottom and you overwater the plant, it can get root rot and die. That hole is going to keep your plant healthy and happy, and keep you from having to worry about giving your plant too much water.
Step 4 – always buy extra soil. When you are planting new plants, buy two times the soil you think you will need. It’s amazing how quickly those large bags can get used up. It’s also good to have either some coffee filters or pieces of newspaper around to put at the bottom of the pot. That way when you pour dirt into the pot and when you water your plant for the first time, a whole bunch of dirt won’t come out of the bottom.
Step 5 – Squish the roots. When you remove your plant from the plastic pot it came in, it’s usually root bound (meaning the roots have run out of space and it needs more room). Before you plant it into it’s new pot, be sure to really squish the roots up. This tells the roots that they are entering a new, bigger home and they should start making themselves comfortable.
Step 6 – Don’t forget the drain dish. Since your new pot has a hole in the bottom, it’s a good idea to get a drain dish to catch all the excess water that may come out when you water your plant.
Congratulations! You are now a proud plant parent. And it wasn’t even that hard, was it?
Happy planting and have a wonderful Spring!