• ASK NANA

GARDENING WITHOUT A GREEN THUMB


succulent
In an arid climate try a succulent garden.

Dear Nana,

I want some flowers outside my house but don't have a green thumb. What can I do?

- Blank


Dear Blank,

Not everyone is good at raising plants but fortunately God made some plants that are kind to our fumbling ways. You have to first think of what kind of rainfall you get. Are you in rainy country or dry, arid country? Secondly, how much sun or shade does the area you want to plant get during the day? If you have full sun from at least 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM you need sun tolerant plants. A couple of hours less, you could try some shade tolerant plants and four hours or less of full sun you need shade plants.

I find bulb flowers and perennials are the most tolerant of our mistakes. In the Spring Daffodils, Jonquils, Tulips and Irises do well. Be careful not to plant them too deep or they will live but not bloom. If you get them potted already then plant them just like that. When they first show their sprouts, weed around them then sprinkle with Preen and Green or Amaze (from Lowe's) and you will both feed and weed your flowers at the same time. For summer bloom I like Phlox. They come in lots of colors and very tall or short sizes. Peonies are also pretty easy to raise and they smell so beautifully. When you first plant them you need to water them well then leave them. If it hasn't rained for four days you may need to water them again. Once they are well established other than weeding you won't need to do anything to them, and the two products I mentioned help with that. Get started with these and you will grow from there.

If you live in a more arid state with lots of sun then your best bet is cacti and succulents. I use Prickly Pear and a form of Choia that has wiggly branches. Their texture difference plays off against each other well also Prickly Pear has yellow flowers and burgundy pears. Whereas the Choia has fuchsia flowers and a yellow bulb in the fall. When planting this kind of plant, water them heavily then leave them for a week then do it again until they put on some new growth. At that point you can leave them alone. Don't forget the Preen and Green around them. Weeding around them is difficult. I handle them with tongs or stick a pitch fork tine into them. You will need to cut them back at the base of a section in the Spring. Put your pieces in a garbage bag and dispose of them. Don't throw your pieces into a field or they will plant themselves and take over your field. There are lots of different choices that you can make among succulents and cacti.

Annual flowers take a bit more fussing which may overwhelm you. But Impatiens are helpful as they will begin to droop to tell you they need watering. They are also tolerant of quite a lot of shade. So, you could experiment with them.

Have some fun. You'll find your groove if you just keep experimenting.

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