It’s a new year, so time for a new you! And if the 2020 version of the new you includes learning how to flower garden, then you’ve come to the right place. Gardening is the nation’s #1 hobby, and flower gardening, in particular, is exciting and rewarding. And if you’re a bit unsure of how to get started, no worries! We’re here to help you find your confidence with these 10 gardening tips for beginners.
1. Know Your Space
Each gardening space is different, and yours is unique. Is your only available flower gardening space indoors or on a patio or balcony, or do you have lots of outdoor areas? Is your property rocky, sloping, totally shaded, or blazing hot? Make some notes about your space to use when picking out plants.
2. Get Into The Zone
Your USDA Hardiness Zone, that is. Hardiness Zones are geographical zones where certain plants grow best according to that climate. There are 13 zones — Zone 1 is the most northern (and coldest) and Zone 13 is the most southern (and steamy), and each zone is about 10 degrees warmer or colder than the zone next to it. Plants that thrive in Zone 8 may not fare as well in chilly Zone 5, so it’s imperative that you know what zone you are in.
3. Begin With Great Soil
Nothing and we do mean nothing, happens in the garden if your soil is poor, so do yourself (and your plants!) a favor — know what kind of soil you have, and do what you need to in order to make it fertile. Not sure where to start? Dig up a little bit of your soil and feel it. If it is sticky it has a lot of clay in it. If it’s gritty, there’s probably a lot of sand in it. Add some compost to both. If the soil feels silky smooth, it’s likely great to plant in.
4. Understand Your Plant’s Growing Needs
Every plant has needs that need to be met in terms of water, sunlight, and soil — and it’s up to you to know what each plant needs. Some plants need full sun and just a little water, while others need consistent watering in the shade, for example. Still, others need very rich soil, while some thrive in whatever soil you give it. It’s also important to know when to plant your plants, as some prefer fall or spring planting in order to grow and thrive, while others can be planted in summer or mild winters.
5. Plant Like Plants Together
Building upon Tip #3, once you know what your plants need, be sure to only combine plants in a planting bed that has the same growing needs. Remember that children’s’ song, “One of these things is not like the other?” You don’t want to pop a shade-loving plant next to a sun-loving one — one of them will not thrive.
6. Start Easy
When you’re first learning how to start flower gardening, it just makes sense to start easy, right? Your success will give you a sense of accomplishment from the very beginning, allowing you to build on your skills. And nothing could be easier than flowering bulbs like Lilies, Amaryllis or Daffodils.
7. Use The Right Tools
Nothing is more irritating or frustrating than getting excited about a project, only to find that you don’t have all the right materials or tools on hand! As you are learning how to garden, gather some basic tools like gloves, hand pruners, hand trowel, and a basic shovel, then add to your arsenal as your skills grow. You’ll also need to have mulch on hand as well as any soil amendments (see Tip #3), and a way to water your new garden (hose, watering can, or automatic irrigation system).
8. Learn How To Plant
While some plants have different planting directions (in which case, that should be located on its plant tag, care card, or container), for the most part, planting instructions are similar. Dig a hole about twice as wide and about the same depth as the container the plant came in, then gently remove the plant from its pot, loosen the roots, place it in the hole and replace the soil around the rootball. Make sure to water immediately after planting. Planting flower bulbs? Plant them 2-3 times as deep as the bulb is tall, unless otherwise recommended.
9. Fine Tune Your Garden Maintenance
Just as with growing needs, each plant has different maintenance needs in terms of pruning, fertilizing, and cutting back — an evergreen shrub simply does not need the same type of maintenance that flowering bulbs or perennials do. Those pesky weeds? Plan to stay on top of them if you want your ornamental plants to have space and nutrients to grow and thrive.
10. Enjoy The Benefits
In addition to gardening being fun and rewarding, gardening is also stress-relieving, provides various levels of exercise, and is an activity that you can do with family and friends! For those of you who are into (or want to be into) houseplants, many of the best and easiest houseplants to grow also purify the air! The Lemon-Lime Dragon Plant, for example, clears carbon dioxide and formaldehyde from your indoor air — improving overall health and wellness.