Gardening hints or tips from my own experience. Also tips from others.

(This page is a work in progress.)

Buying Plants

  • If there are several of the same plant available, check the tags on more than one of them. The one plant you chose might have the wrong tag in it.
  • If buying a flowering plant, choose one with some buds but as few open blooms as possible. If you buy the one that's already in full bloom, you won't get to enjoy the blooms as long. (Of course if you're looking for instant impact, perhaps for a table centerpiece, then buy the one that's in full bloom!)
  • Check the roots on the plants before you buy them. You usually don't want to buy plants that are extremely rootbound, and it's important to know the health of the whole plant, not just the part above the soil. Since this involves pulling the pot off, it isn't always practical -- especially on larger plants. If you're uncertain about how to do this or shy about doing it yourself, find a staff member and ask them to do it for you.
  • Those sad-looking, half-dead plants on the clearance rack are sometimes a fantastic bargain. Annuals or non-hardy perennials should be avoided, but shrubs and cold-hardy perennials usually have healthy root systems and will bounce back next year. 

Transplanting Potted Plants
  • Don't keep plants too long in their temporary nursery pots. Flowering plants especially will try to complete their life cycle based on the room they have, so the plant may never reach its full size even after you put it into the ground. (This is more of a concern with annuals, and perennials for their first year only.)
  • If you've got a plant that is stuck in the pot and the pot has a drainage hole, put a short length of pipe (such as electrical conduit) into the ground, then put the pot over the pipe. The pipe should push the rootball right out of the pot. If it's a smaller drainage hole, try a smaller pipe or stick.

Veggie Garden

  • Fertilize! Most edibles need a steady supply of nutrients to produce well. I suggest organic fertilizers, as it's harder to overfertilize with them.

  • Make sure you know what type of bamboo you're planting, and if it's a running variety, understand that it will spread a lot farther than you expect if you don't contain it with a barrier or rhizome pruning.
  • If you live in a colder climate, realize that hardiness ratings for many bamboos are not entirely accurate, and that cold duration and wind also play large factors. (For instance, if the species is listed as hardy to 5ºF, it can probably take a day or two of 5ºF temps, but if it stays that cold for a week or longer, or if it's very windy while at that temp you will see much more damage and the above parts of the plant may be killed.)

  • The information on the plant's tag may not be accurate, especially with newly introduced plants. The cold-hardiness might not have been determined by experience -- it may be a guess based on similar species or cultivars of the species. Also, the size information could be wrong. Check as many sources as possible in the case of marginal specifications (although it's easy to find bad info on websites too).
  • Microclimates can make a big difference. There are most likely many spots in your yard that have very different growing conditions than your yard on a whole does. Spots that get much hotter, stay really wet, are very shady, are sheltered from winter winds -- take advantage of these to grow plants that you might not normally be able to. (You may have a spot in your yard that is a zone warmer than usual for instance.)

(more to be added over time)


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