Under no circumstance am I an advanced gardener! It is only in the last six or seven years that I have even discovered that I like plants. For a majority of my life it was all I could do to keep myself alive, much less anything else- even a plant! However, I have come to understand a few things about plants that had I known in the beginning, I might have been a bit more successful with them (ahem, trying to grow tomatoes in containers in a screened in porch).
In some ways, I think I might have been born with a bit of a green thumb and I feel likewise about Bub. My mom, my aunt and uncle, all four of my grandparents and my great grandmother are/were great with plants/gardening/farming. Bub’s mom and grandmother could probably be considered advanced gardeners– their yards, seriously, are immaculate and just gorgeous. So together, Bub and I have some luck with our plants and we also have a small army of people ready to give helpful advice.
I moved to Auburn in the summer of 2005. My grandmother sent me one of her plants as a house warming gift, a Peace Lily. That plant has been with me ever since. And I have to say, I am very proud of this feat! During my tour of Auburn there were years I did not have heat or central air and I might have gone weeks, yes weeks, before remembering to water that plant and that Peace Lily would get down to one leaf, but it survived!
And I bought another Peace Lily that found a home in Bub’s apartment before we were married. It was a little thing! But, neither of them ever flowered until Bub and I got married and moved in together and combined our plants. That’s how I learned that Peace Lillies need a spouse.
This brings me to my first point. As a beginner, pick a hardy plant. Peace Lillies are great starter plants- I know from first hand experience. They like being inside but, they like being outside too unless it’s too cold. Where ever you get your plant or who ever gives it to you, ask them how hardy it is, what it can withstand and what it can not. And just an add-on to the first point, if you ask your friends and family- it is very likely that there is someone or ones in the woodwork that are plant savvy and will be willing to share cuttings from their plants- usurp those people! A friend referred to this practice as creating a friendship garden. I love it.
My second point is to know the amount of sunlight you are dealing with. Our yard is fairly shaded. We have very few areas that get full-on sun all day long, so we have to pick plants that tend to like shade or indirect light. We read the little card that comes with most plants that you get from the store and we do the best that we can. Also, many of our plants start their lives in pots. This way, I can move them around the yard and see how they like their potential spot before they are put in the ground. Bub is forever saying “We have to plant the plants we have before we buy any more!”
My third point is understand your commitment level and be comfortable with that. I like plants that are fairly low maintenance and that do not require a ton of up-keep. Well, let me correct that. I love all plants, even the high-maintenance ones but, I know that invariably, I am going to skip out on doing the maintenance (like watering). So, plants that do not require a bunch of up-keep are the best match for me.
I really like asparagus ferns and fox tail ferns. They are this lovely green color, they are pretty hardy and they are not nearly as temperamental as regular ferns (maybe I just don’t know how to take good care of regular ferns?) although Bub has a couple regular ferns he has managed to keep alive for a while now so, we’ll see if they manage to get fully integrated into our plant family. 🙂
My fourth point is to pick some plants that you like. I really like succulent plants- you know, cacti- not necessarily all covered up with pricklys but, succulent none the less. Bub likes palms. Guess what, we have lots of both. And at the end of the day, that’s important. The plant to the left was given to me a clipping of sorts from one of my favorite friends, Nan. The mother plant was her grandmother’s plant. So, it was very special to Nan. I sent a clipping from my plant home with another good friend for his friendship garden. So, sharing plants is very fun.
And my fifth point is, pay attention to your plants. If the leaves turn yellow and fall off, something is wrong- likely they are getting too much water. If the leaves shrivel up and wilt, it’s likely the plant is thirsty and or getting too much sun. And it may be that you fail to keep to a plant alive- it’s okay, it’s a plant. But, there is something so medicinal about plants- watching them grow and such. If you do not have a plant, I totally recommend you get one or two or twenty!