As a gardener, I have made many mistakes over the years. These garden blunders have been disappointing since I had to wait a year in some cases to correct them. Errors may also be costly, reducing my ability to purchase more plants or garden-related items. My mother and grandmother were talented gardeners. They raised all the vegetables, fruit, and meat we consumed on the farm. Their lament was, “Do as I Say and Not as I Did!” Excellent gardeners learn from their mistakes.
Test the soil if you do not know the soil’s nutrient content and composition, such as acidity or alkalinity (pH). Amend the soil if needed to restore health and fertility.
Read the plant tag carefully. Don’t assume that the plants sold on the internet, big box stores, or garden centers are in your planting zone. It is a waste of time, labor, and money if your plant will not survive the winter cold or the summer heat.
Planting too early in the spring before the last frost date is very risky. A bizarre frost may occur after the indicated frost date, but that is rare. Pretend you are in Vegas and playing the “odds.” Nurseries are in the business of selling plants. They know if you are foolish and plant too early, you will return to buy new plants.
When you are shopping, purchase healthy plants that have no sign of disease. Take the plant out of the pot and check the plant for a sound healthy root system. Healthy roots are cream-colored, not brown. When buying flowers, don’t forget foliage plants that provide texture for your garden. Purchase plants in quantity to have a pleasing effect on your garden. I usually plant in threes. Be careful not to plant an invasive species. Talk to the nurseryman, county extension agent or check the literature to know the aggressiveness of the species. Once planted, it may take plenty of hard work to eradicate the plant. In some cases, you may never be able to remove it from your yard. Been there, done that! Also, remember, don’t buy more plants than you can plant on a timely basis.
Don’t be a Goldilocks and move your plant around your yard, testing every site. Again, read the plant label and plant in the proper location the first time. The label will indicate sun or shade, wet (marshy), normal or dry (drought) locations. To avoid planting too deep or too shallow, dig a hole big enough for the potted plant. The soil level of the plant should be the same as the top of the ground. Newly purchased plants have been fertilized, so there is no need to fertilize when planting.
More plants meet their demise from the water spewing forth from a hose or watering can. After watering, allow the soil to dry before watering again. Containers should have drainage holes to prevent plants from sitting in water.
My last bit of advice relates to seedlings: don’t pull up your flowers instead of weeds! If you can’t tell which is which, let the plant grow a little longer. Soon you should be able to tell the difference.
James Joyce stated, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” Happy Discovering!
National Garden Clubs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that aims to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility. There is a local club near you, click here to find one and join. Subscribe to the NGC’s blog by entering your e-mail here. You do not have to be an NGC member to subscribe. NGC welcomes blog article submissions, e-mail the Blog Administrator at email@example.com.