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Growing Plants: Just Starting

3/8/2014 04:54PM

Generic Stuff/Picking your first plants


1. If you're super new, look for ones with 'resilient', 'hardy', or 'tough' as a factor for houseplants, or 'doesn't need pruning' for outdoor ones. There's a lot of plants (looking at you, roses), that want you to go through several steps each year, and if you forget them, there's ones that won't grow as well, or could even die. Eventually, you can get ones that need to have more work put into them, but for beginners, I wouldn't suggest it. There's some plants that want you to have a blanket put over them in the winter (not an actual blanket, more like extra dirt and sometimes padding, and a covering... so yeah, some plants need blankets to keep them warm in the winter.) Or you just dig them up and take them inside. There's also ones that need very specific pruning each year, or ones that have a LOT of different diseases to worry about, or are just super picky. Again, roses are a good example. They often need their own specialty soil, fertilizer, and pest/fungus/etc control. For indoor plants, I'd suggest spider and snake plants, or peace lilies.


2. Look very carefully at how much light it needs, and where you're putting it. And overestimate how much light it needs. Very few plants get damaged from too much light. And those are usually fairly picky about other things too. And also remember the weather. I live in Washington State, so a 'normal' sunny day is still going to be overcast, giving less light. Temperature can also count for certain plants, especially any vegetables you might want to be growing. Check to see if they can even grow in your area.


3. Don't assume that just because a garden center sells it, means you can grow it. They make money on you buying plants, not you keeping them alive. In fact, a cynical person might suspect them of selling faulty plants just so you kill off more and buy more. This isn't the case as far as I can tell, but the plant in question might want things that you, personally, can't give it. Again, I live in the northwest US, which means cooler temperatures and lots of rain. They still sell plants that need high average temperatures like tomatoes, which I could not possibly grow without a greenhouse, and even then, it can be iffy. Also, check for any issues with the plant, because if there are, you might be bringing something infectious to the rest of your plants. We bought one plant from a local hardware store and didn't notice until about a day after we got it that it's soil was infested with gnats. We were lucky that it was in a bathroom by itself, because gnats are very hard to get rid of without damaging the plant.


4. When the plant says it grows up to a certain size, assume it will grow that size, or larger. Plants like a lot of space, and overcrowding can kill them. It's best to be cautious. If you plant them too far apart outside, you can always add in other plants, and if you get too big of a pot for them inside, you can add little decorations to it.


5. If you have any pets, either make sure the plant is not toxic to them, they won't try to eat it, or they have something else to chew on. Our cat tried to eat our spider, plant, which is non-toxic, but we broke her out of the habit, since we have other plants that do. We've been giving her cat grass, and that seems to help.