The whole idea that certain people with “green thumbs” are naturally better at growing plants than others makes it sound like gardening is more about luck than skill. But, as anyone who has tried their hand at starting a garden armed only with the information they retained from elementary school science class can tell you, that’s far from the truth.
There’s a lot more that goes into growing and caring for plants than most people realise — which is why many beginners make the same initial missteps, before learning where they’re going wrong, and how to fix it. Here are a few of the most common gardening mistakes, to help you avoid repeating them.
Ignoring the soil
Whether you’re growing a potted plant indoors, or starting a vegetable garden in your backyard, the type of soil you use matters. For those that live indoors, it’s a matter of buying the right type of potting soil for your plant. But if you’re planning on planting seeds or seedlings in the actual ground, you should — at minimum — test the soil’s pH level and adjust it from there, based on what you’re growing.
Getting the location wrong
Whether you buy seeds or seedlings, there should be information on the conditions that particular plant needs to grow and flourish. These typically include things like whether the plant needs full or partial sunlight, as well as the minimum temperatures they need to survive, and other climate-related information. Don’t ignore these instructions and attempt to wing it — even if that means switching up your landscaping plans.
If you’re a fan of that lush, dense look of multiple types of flowers in various colours growing at different heights all in the same spot — giving the illusion that it’s a patch of wildflowers — you may be tempted to plant the flowers pretty close together.
And while visually, that may produce the look you want (initially, at least), plants don’t like living in overcrowded places, and, at some point, the more dominant plants will start taking over the area. Instead, read the plant’s growing instructions to find out how much space it needs, and be sure to give it to them.