Gardening for the novice is not always as simple as black and white there are a lot of questions unanswered and confusion about different aspects of growing plants. This is common and nothing to be ashamed of because everyone that gardens started at this point. Sometimes it may be frustrating and get you down when you can not get something to grow but as time goes by your success will far outweigh your failures. You will always have failures every gardener does but they will become fewer and farther apart. The important part is that each failure is a chance to learn something new.
While it would be impossible to impart all the knowledge of successful gardening
on someone in one article, let alone a stack of books there are some general rules that apply 99.99% of the time. These are the basic requirements of plants and some of the general cultivation techniques. Hopefully this information will make it a little easier to understand what to do and why.
The Basic Requirements
All plants require Food, Water, and Light with out these they will not survive. The amount of each are different for different types of plants. There is pretty good documentation on what these are for any of the plants you might wish to grow. You will probably even find it on the plant label. An example would be not all plants need to be fertilized heavily some do best with little or none. Most herbs do not like to be fertilized in fact they will not do as well if fertilized. Flowers on the other hand especially annual flowers require monthly feedings to do their best.
Some plants need to be in a moist soil others prefer almost desert like conditions and example would be cactus they do well with a heavy watering then left alone for the soil to become almost completely dry. If you were to water petunias this way they would quickly wilt and die.
Sunlight is important for the manufacturing of the food the plants need to survive. Plants take up nutrients that dissolve in water through the roots and move them through the plant were the interact with sunlight in a process known as photosynthesis which converts them to usable food for the plants growth. It is important to understand that some plants need full sun to be healthy and some plants will only grow in shade or partial shade but each produces the needed food in the same way.
The other important factor is soil. Soil is broken down into three main types Clay, Sandy Lome, Sandy.
Clay is a very small particle soil and it is very heavy. When it get wet it is very wet and squishy and does not contain a lot of air spaces so it is difficult for plant roots to push through and grow in it. It also will dry out and when it does it becomes very hard and difficult for water to rehydrate it . It is not the best for growing but with amendment can be used and will be satisfactory.
Sandy Loam is a mixture of clay, organic materials, and sand. The soil is rich and contains a variety of size particles that is ideally suited for plant growth. The soil will drain well yet holds enough moisture to promote good plant growth as the organic material helps to retain nutrients to be released to the plants as needed. Plant roots can penetrate easily through the air pockets between the particles and it also promotes the exchange of gases.
Sandy soil drain rather quickly because of it’s large particle size. It does not retain nutrients well because there is little organic material for the nutrients to bind to. Sandy soil requires frequent watering and fertilizer in order to promote plant growth. It can be amended with the use of compost, humus, and other organic materials.
Before you purchase your plants know the light and soil in the area you want to plant. Then check the plant label it will tell you if the plant will grow in the conditions you are offering. This little step alone will save you a lot of frustration and a lot of money.