Anyone who takes on gardening will tell you that it’s one of the most wonderful and satisfying pursuits in their lives. Creating a beautiful outdoor space to enjoy all year round is the goal of many aspiring gardeners. Sitting out on a sunny afternoon in your favourite garden chair admiring all your hard work is a fabulous feeling. Is there anything better than putting your hands in the soil and seeing life thrive right in your backyard?
But if your cherished buds just aren’t growing into lush blooms, then you may be neglecting a few significant factors that are vital to growing a full, gorgeous garden. Don’t fret; even the most experienced florist go wrong in ways they might not even realize.
Let’s explore six of the most frequent mistakes people make in flower gardening. But we won’t stop at the problems; we’ll look at six easy fixes you can do to handle them!
If you want to learn more from a formal course or get certified as an expert on everything related to flowers, we highly recommend looking into professional bodies and colleges in floristry such as the American Institute of Floral Designers of the AIFD (www.aifd.org), the Society of American Florists (www.safnow.org), the American Floral Endowment (www.endowment.org) and other similar organizations offering programs specializing in floristry.
Many flower enthusiasts take the relevance of seasons for granted. For example, it’s easy to get giddy planting spring flowers early as soon as winter starts to clear and the air starts to warm. But if you don’t have a greenhouse, there’s a good chance they’ll get exposed to frost from spring thaw which could wreak havoc on– or worse, even kill– those tender buds.
Planting spring flowers too late, on the other hand, leaves them vulnerable to rising heat that could inhibit their growth and keep them from blooming as perfectly as they should.
How to fix it
Follow a flower calendar that corresponds to your local area. Stick to it and plant flowers at the advised times.
Don’t forget to ask fellow gardeners, particularly pros or long-time hobbyists, about the correct time to plant particular flowers in your vicinity. You can also contact your local extension service for inquiries about weather issues and gardening tips.
Too much or too little watering
Most gardeners really love to water their plants. It’s a regular ritual that helps you feel connected to your plants. It also offers the opportunity for you to assess if they have any issues that need to be dealt with
However, your act of love could be damaging to them! Over-watering your plants keeps them from being able to access oxygen, which in simple terms means they’re drowning. It also leads to root rot, stress, and other ailments.
On the other hand, under-watering can also be a huge issue! Often times watering your plants with a garden hose until the soil looks damp seems enough for the day. But moisture needs to go beyond the surface and down deeper into the roots. Symptoms of under-watering include slow growth, falling leaves or flowers, and later on, death from drying up.
How to fix it
Look up the specific watering needs of each plant you have. Flowers like yarrows, lavenders, lantanas, bloody geraniums, and russian sages don’t need a lot of water. Cannas, elephant’s ears, forget-me-nots, callas, and turtleheads, on the other hand, definitely love wet feet.
To make things less complicated for you, round up the plants with the same needs with each other. This also greatly decreases your chances of over- or under-watering your plants.
Consider buying an irrigation system. If you only have a humble garden or a few plants, hand watering is definitely the way to go. But if you have plants that need to get a lot of water, an irrigation system could be a huge help for watering deeper. This would undoubtedly boost better growth with less inconvenience for you.
Not paying enough attention to soil issues
Every gardener’s slogan should be: take care of your soil! It’s the basis for any plant’s health and growth, so it also demands a lot of tender loving care and maintenance.
When soil is rocky, nutrient-deficient, and poor in quality, it can have severe repercussions on how well and how much your flowers grow. Another factor to take into consideration is whether the soil in your garden is suitable for the type of flowers you would like to grow.
How to fix it
Testing your soil is the very first step. Soil tests will give you significant information on its pH level and nutritional composition. It’s the most effective way to spot nutrient deficiencies and other issues with your soil. It also establishes whether your soil is compatible with the flower varieties of your choice.
You can do this by speaking to your trusted nursery, sending it over to a lab, or contacting the Cooperative Extension Service. There are also home kits for soil testing, but if you’re a gardening noob or if you have worrying concerns about your soil health, it may be a better idea to have the testing done professionally first.
The next step is to get your soil healthy. Of course, some techniques will be based on what you find in your soil tests. But there are a number of ways to improve soil health! One of the easiest ways to do this is composting.
Compost is basically organic material that builds healthy soil by improving its texture, enriching it with nutrients, and energizing the soil food web.
You can buy compost, but it’s easy to make at home! Compost is usually made up of leaves, fruit rinds, vegetable trimmings, manure, hay, straw, coffee grounds, and other organic matter. Just take note of the ideal composting processes and soil-to-compost ratios for your particular buds and it’ll be sure to give new life and vitality to them!
Planting in the wrong place
Just like in real estate, “location, location, location” is key to flower gardening. Your plant’s growth, health, and vitality depend a lot on where you position them.
All plants require light, but just how much of it they should have differs greatly. There are flowering plants that need constant exposure to light, while others ebloom much better in shade. Not meeting these needs can cause pest infestations, heat damage, disease, and other undesirable effects.
There is also the matter of providing sufficient space. Your plants might end up extending beyond your expectations, which means they’ll have to compete for water and nutrients.
Another problem is falling in love with an out-of-state plant and getting it, only to learn that it just won’t grow in your hometown’s environment!
How to fix it
If you’re unclear about how much light your plant requires, go to your local nursery and see where it’s placed. Sun-loving plants might be in much brighter spots than those that prefer shade.
Find out how much light your plant needs and ideally, how much light your home is facing. It can help you place your plants in the best possible area where they’ll get just the right amount of light they need.
As tempting as it is, try to stay away from getting plants that aren’t within your vicinity. Consult local gardening specialists about the plants that grow best in your area or if there’s a way to keep certain out-of-state plants growing in your home. You can also look around your local botanical gardens for inspiration as to what other plants you can grow.
Wrong pruning techniques
Pruning is among the most important things your blooming buds need. They keep flowers free from dead or diseased wood, increase their growth, and encourage them to bloom healthily and beautifully. But this particular gardening task can sometimes be tricky, which is why some gardeners frequently use the wrong methods. Here’s a run-through of typical pruning mistakes:
The first is pruning too hard. If you’ve noticed your flowers seem rather lifeless, your first reaction is to prune them at once. But some flowering plants grow flowers on old branches or have dormant buds that bloom much later. For example, some hydrangea types thrive on old wood, so it’s important to prune them after they flower.
Next is pruning too early. Flowering plants that bloom late in their growing season should be snipped when they go into dormancy. Keep in mind that pruning stimulates growth, so if you cut too early, they may yield new shoots that are susceptible to frost damage.
Last on the list is not pruning enough. It can be scary for some gardeners to prune their flowering plants, while others may find it boring and tiring. But dead branches can suck up all the energy from your plant, which can affect its bloom production and overall health.
How to fix it
Study the flowering pattern of your plant and make a pruning calendar based upon what you find out. If you have a number of flowering plants or shrubs, this schedule will most likely vary according to their precise needs. Take some time to learn more about and use the appropriate pruning strategies for every plant you have.
Giving up easily
There may be moments when you’ll wonder if it’s time to nip your gardening dreams in the bud. When you keep finding lifeless plants or withering flowers in your browning yard, it can definitely be a frustrating experience.
How to fix it
Remember what draws you to gardening to begin with. Whether it’s the physical activity, the comfort, the stress release, or all of the above, there’s a good reason you keep doing it. Think of starting from scratch as part of the process that gives you those positive experiences.
Take note of the handful of convenient solutions discussed here. Keep trying and keep studying! It doesn’t always go right, but when it does, it’ll be worth it! With persistence, dedication, and care, you can attain the garden of your dreams in time.
Photo by ZHIJIAN DAI