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When you don't have a green thumb

Have you ever seen a beautiful plant at a greenhouse or store and bought it thinking it would be gorgeous on your front porch or in the kitchen window, just to find it completely dead in two weeks? It’s always fun to see the colorful containers of flowers in the springtime, but unfortunately, it’s too easy to become discouraged when you are unable to keep the beautiful plant looking bright and lively for very long.

There are some great practical steps you can learn, however, that will allow you to take pride in seeing your plants thrive and provide season-long beauty and enjoyment.

When you don't have a green thumb

To begin with, pay attention to how healthy your plant looks before you buy it and take it home. The health of a plant when you buy it has a lot of bearing on how easy or hard it will be to maintain. Some characteristics to look for are whether or not the foliage is green and shiny, not dull. Additionally, make sure the foliage and stems are free from insects and damage, such as holes in the leaves and chewing on the stems. Unhealthy plants bring additional challenges and demands that should be avoided as much as possible.

As simple as it may seem, not watering your plants properly is the number one reason that your plants may die. For so many of us, it is easy to forget to water our plants on a regular basis. Therefore, developing a habit of watering your plants frequently is very important in caring for your plants and flowers, and the first step towards having a green thumb.

Just as easy as it is to forget to water your plants, it’s equally as easy to assume a plant has adequate moisture. To be successful at making your plants flourish, you should also develop a habit of checking the plant’s soil for moisture. One process in helping with gauging how much water a plant needs is by just lifting the container that the plant is in, and deciding whether or not it is light or feels heavy with water. In time, you will begin to learn how much water is required for each flowering container.

Never assume that the lawn sprinkling system is adequately watering your outside plants. Often the amount of water used in the flower beds, simply dries up and evaporates even while under the irrigation spray. You should also be aware that when the temperatures exceed 80 degrees, it’s a good bet your flowering containers will need to be watered in the morning and again in the late afternoon. The key is to inspect your plants and the soil daily and remember that as your plants grow and the season progresses, the plants will consume more water.

As important as it is to remember to water your plants, it is also very important to make sure they also have appropriate draining. With container-grown plants, proper draining becomes even more prevalent and necessary to maintain the proper moisture in your soil. Your plant containers should always have drain holes, so that the plants don’t drown from standing water. If your plant begins to wilt, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your plant is dry. Often it is possible that your plant actually has too much standing water in the container and the roots of your plant have begun to wilt.

Instead of planting your flowers and other plants in dirt, it’s a good idea to plant them in potting soil. Dirt is dense and compact and the plant’s roots are not able to grow well. Potting soil provides the proper balance of water, air and pH to allow the roots to grow deep and healthy. Potting soil doesn’t actually consist of dirt, but of peat, bark, fertilizer and other materials that help disperse moisture throughout the area around the plant and the plant’s roots.

Thinking about adding fertilizer to your plant can be an intimidating process, but it will make your plants more beautiful if plant nutrition is added properly. Your plants can grow on water alone, but adding plant fertilizers can make your plants thrive and produce larger blooms. Plant fertilizers come in many forms: water soluble formulas that you add to your watering containers or slow release granules that are sprinkled on around the plant, and fertilizer stakes that are pressed into the soil.

Be sure when buying plants to follow the directions on the light requirements. Your plants will have specific light needs, whether it be “full sun”, “part shade” or “full shade”. A “full sun” plant will grow better in full direct sunlight all day without hurting the plant. However, it will be okay if the plant is shaded for a few hours during the day. A “part shade” plant should be located where the sun is filtered by trees or in areas where the plants are receiving sun for a couple of hours during the day. Finally, “full shade” means that the plant needs to be in the shade in order to thrive. If a plant this type of plant is exposed to direct sunlight, it will inevitably burn.

If you are willing to follow the directions that each plant requires and make the effort to give the care that your plants need, it is possible to have the green thumb and grow healthy plants, making planting season enjoyable.

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