Tips for Growing Healthy Plants
Growing and maintaining plants can be a rewarding hobby and a learning experience for children. Many of us, though, are intimidated by gardening or growing plants. By following some simple guidelines and being consistent, anyone can have a green thumb. The most frequent things that result in disaster, as plants are concerned, are watering, fertilizing, and transplanting.
More often than not, the inexperienced gardener will kill a plant by improper watering. Whenever possible, such as in container plants, water your plant based on the weight of the container. Your eyes will deceive you if you go simply by how the soil looks. You should be able to tell whether a plant needs water if the container is light. Try to establish a base point with a container of dry soil, this will allow you to tell just how much the container should weigh dry. Don't worry, as you water on a weekly or monthly basis, you'll get the hang of this method of watering. The variation in the water requirements of your plant will astonish you. If your plants are not in containers, try to use a soil probe or your finger to determine how dry your plant's soil actually is. Avoid relying completely on electronic, digital, or ceramic soil probes as they offer ambiguous results.
Be sure to pay attention to your plants, they will indicate whether they are thirsty or drowning. The best symptom of a thirsty plant is its yellowing leaves. The leaves of a dry plant will begin yellowing around the edges then rapidly turn completely yellow. The leaves of a drowning plant will begin to brown at the edges. Another great indicator that a plant is being overwatered is when it begins shedding green leaves. If you discover that you've been overwatering your plant, try to repot the plant with some saturated soil attached to the roots and some fresh, dry soil to go in the bottom and around the root ball. This will help dry out the saturated soil and prevent your plant's roots from shutting down completely.
The first and most important thing to understand about fertilizing is the three magic numbers. Any legitimate prepackaged fertilizer, be it organic or chemical, should have three numbers separated by dashes somewhere on the package. These numbers represent Nitrogen-Phosphate-Potassium (N-P-K). Different combinations of Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Potassium are suited better for different plants or different plant stages. For example, during the green growth or vegetative stage of a flowers growth, you would best help the plant by fertilizing with a high Nitrogen fertilizer or typical all around plant food such as a 20-20-20 formulation. But as the flower prepares to bloom or is in bloom, you might try using high phosphate or bloom booster fertilizer such as 10-52-10. Only use water soluble fertilizers when you've allowed the plant to dry back more than normal. By following this practice, you will ensure that the plant takes up as much of the fertilizer as possible. But be wary of fertilizing every watering as you could burn your plants. This burning will appear as brown and yellow blotches in the middle of leaves or "bleached" new growth - void of good color.
Care should always be taken when transplanting your plants to a different or larger container. Whenever possible, leave a plant in a container until it has fully rooted through the soil. This will give the plant the best chance against the shock of replanting. Choose a container that is both wider and deeper than the previous container and place good fresh soil in the bottom and sides before transplanting. If transplanting into the ground outside, make the hole bigger than the plants root ball chopping the dirt finely and adding potting soil or organic soil with it. The roots will then more easily pass through the soil to become established. Water any newly planted or potted plant with a good Phosphate fertilizer to help prevent shock and give the roots a good start in their new environment.
With these tips and a little reading about your specific plants, you'll certainly be well on your way to earning that green thumb. Nothing enhances a room or landscape quite like plants. BestNest is rapidly expanding its selection of plant and garden items. Choose from hanging baskets, ceramic pots, plant supports, and even greenhouses.