Top 5 Gardening Mistakes

Whether new to the game of gardening or a seasoned pro, everyone makes mistakes.  There are a few mistakes every gardener has made and learned from, so here’s a few tips on how to avoid them:

1. Location: This not only goes for light and exposure, but for plant habit and size as well.  Ever accidentally plant a coleus in your window box where it grew so tall you couldn’t see out the window? Or have you ever planted a trailing flower in the center of a pot? Paying attention to height and habit is as important as paying attention to whether a plant needs sun or shade. When selecting a new plant for your yard or container, be sure to thoroughly read a plant’s tag before planting it to avoid any of these mistakes.

2. Soil: In the Chicagoland area, we have a lot of clay in our soil.  So while it’s important to amend any soil, it’s especially important for us. Adding peat moss, compost, manure or perlite will help break up the clay, add drainage, and add nutrients to the soil to help with healthy plant growth.

3. Mulching: This is not only important for weed control and appearance, but mulch keeps the soil moist and helps prevent your garden from drying up in the hot days of summer. A good three-inch layer will block the sunlight that helps weeds germinate.  Mulch also hold moisture better than top soil, so it will keep your beds moist.

4. Maintenance: This means pruning, pinching and fertilizing throughout the summer. Not only should you be watering your plants, but you should be pinching back plants that are growing leggy, fertilize plants that may have yellowing leaves, and pruning off any seed pods.  Keeping up with this will keep your garden looking beautiful all summer long.

5. Watering: This doesn’t just mean keeping plants watered and happy, but also watering them the right way.  With the early heat we had this spring, especially this last weekend, watering properly is important to keeping your plants alive.

Plants need to be watered at their base, not on top of the foliage, so that the water gets absorbed by the roots that need it.  Also, some plants, such as hostas, can burn when the foliage is watered and the sun hits it.  

When planting flowers, be sure both the plants and the soil are moist.  This will help for the roots to begin to establish themselves into the soil. 

When soil dries out, it needs to be thoroughly watered in order for the plant to get water.  First, thoroughly water the soil. Wait for it to absorb this water and become moist.  Then, water the base of the plants, to help the roots and plants get this water and perk up again.  

If you have a hanging basket or smaller container that has really dried out, sometimes it is best to dunk the pot into a large bucket of water.  You'll see lots of air bubbles come out and once they stop, take the pot out and let it drain.  Believe it or not, plants will come back to life after this treatment.

Christian Goers