Gardening is a labor of love: love for the plants that our garden holds and the earth that nurtures them. To be successful, gardeners must use both discernment and common sense in order to create an environment that will foster plant growth while also warding off disease and competition from surrounding plants. A well cared for garden will inevitably produce magnificent, constant blooms and a plentiful harvest of vegetables.
A garden is a complex ecosystem in which the needs of different plant species can render certain ornamental varieties more vulnerable than others: it's literally the law of the jungle! Since it's essential to start with a solid base, begin by preparing the plant bed. Aerate the soil thoroughly using a hoe, which will also dislodge weeds and seedlings. This will allow the earth to absorb water more efficiently and eliminate competition from unwanted plants.
While ornamental plants are colourful and breathtaking, some varieties can spread rapidly or become quite large in a short period. It is therefore necessary to trim these plants with the proper tools so that they do not inhibit the growth of others nearby. Although your garden may appear slightly disheveled for a few days, the freshly trimmed edges will quickly disappear and all of your plants will be better for it in the long run!
Like humans, plants are subject to different types of stress, such as prolonged periods without water, intense heat or cold, insect infestations and disease. It is essential to provide plants with sufficient nourishment to help them withstand these environmental attacks. The use of adapted fertilizers will allow your plants to flourish as well as build up a natural defence against potential threats, thus eliminating the need for harmful pesticides.
Also, be sure to use the right fertilizer. They are identified by three numbers indicating the percentages of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash. Opt for 15-30-15 for flowering plants and 10-30-20 for succulent plants.
Fertilize sparingly! Note that over fertilization is as harmful as under fertilization.
Insects, fungi, viruses and bacteria can be deadly to ornamental plants. Gardeners must be able to recognize when plants are under attack and identify the culprit in order to counter with the necessary products. Consider planting flowers that are natural repellents, such as Rosemary or Lavender that keep ants away.
Certain benign pests and conditions, such as leaf spots, holes chewed by insects and yellowing leaves, can go unchecked. These minor (and natural) imperfections are much less damaging in the long term than the shock treatment that plants undergo when treated with pesticides.
If you see that your plants are having difficulty or in the presence of a major infestation, it's essential to act quickly to contain the damage. Insects and disease can spread like wildfire in a garden and affect all your plants in a matter of days, sometimes even just a few hours. If you're not sure how to proceed, speak with an expert at your local garden centre. Not only can these professionals help you identify the source of the problem, they can also point you towards the most effective solution.