Just like interiors, the exteriors too can speak volumes about the house and its inmates. And what better way to introduce your house to others than a colorfully blooming garden? A well-trimmed garden adorned by ornamental flowers is always appealing to the eyes and soul, inviting positive energy to the house. Moreover, it is one of the first things that the guests or visitors would notice in many houses. Hence, this gives a good chance to seize the opportunity to make optimum use of the available area and resources to turn into a space full of greens and vibrant blooms. While most of you may do it out of passion or hobby, it takes a lot of hard work and sweating to start and maintain your own flower garden. It is important to know that a good garden is raised with a mix of art, science, and love, of course. Nurturing a garden not only gives you confidence and satisfaction of taking care of new lives but also busts your stress to a great extent. Here’s all you would want to know about starting your own flower garden and maintaining it.
A garden can be cultivated depending upon the availability of space in your house:
· Landscape Garden
If you have an extra space around your house, the area in the front yard or the backyard of your house can be converted into a beautiful landscape garden.
· Terrace Garden
The terrace of your garden too can well be converted into a terrace garden, especially if you own a penthouse.
· Balcony Garden
Staying in an apartment with no extra space around the house does not mean you cannot realize the dream of owning a beautiful garden. Make the most of your balcony and turn it into a blooming balcony garden, just the way you want it!
· Indoor Garden
Do not worry if you do not have any of the above mentioned available spaces, for instance in your office. You still can enjoy the beauty of a flowering garden inside the four walls with indoor plants. The components need to be taken care of, for a nicely maintained indoor garden are watering, lighting and temperature.
How to start your own garden?
These are the most important components for a healthy, blooming flower garden:
- Right kind of flowering plants
- Taking care of predators
Suiting the Soil
Soil lays the basic foundation of a plant; it is the place where a plant is conceived and grown. A seed germinates in the soil, develops its roots in it and eventually gains all the nutrients from the same soil. Hence, the growth and the health of a plant largely depend on the soil it grows in, making it the most important component of a plants’ life. This makes the process of selecting the soil, a crucial one. Now, to begin this process, firstly you have to be clear about the place you want to grow the flowering plants because the garden soil for landscape garden is a tad different from the pot soil. The garden soil needs to be compact to be able to hold the roots tightly. This will ensure proper growth and development of the plants without drooping.
The pot soil is different from the garden soil in more ways than one. Since the pot plant has limited accessibility and availability of soil, the soil has to be extremely rich in nutrients to facilitate good growth. Therefore, the pot soil is a healthy mixture of compost, peat moss, coco peat, pine bark and a bit of coarse material like fine sand or coir fiber for better air circulation. In short, this mixture is balanced well in order to suit the needs of the plants.
However, the two most important aspects to be kept in mind while selecting the potting soil are: to select a soil which can retain adequate water and drain the rest, and it should be rich in nutrients for proper growth of the plants.
F n F Tip:
Make the soil rich by adding customized plant food especially conceived for a particular flowering plant. For instance, Rose Mix – it is considered to be the best plant food for the rose plant. It contains organic nutrients extracted from different Ayurveda plants and oil cakes such as castor cake, neem cake, and honge cake.
Make your own organic compost for great health of plants
Although you are tempted to buy the organic composts available in the market, we would like to tell you that using compost made at home can give you great results. Although it can be messy and can dirty your hands, using homemade organic compost is very economical. Moreover, as it is devoid of any chemicals it ensures proper nutrition and health of the plants.
- Gather all the garden material that is rich in carbon like dry leaves, withered flowers, shreds of newspapers and straws. This layer will be referred to as the brown layer.
- Spread it into a container or a ditch, where you want to make the compost. Make a thick, coarse layer with the above-mentioned material.
- Accumulate material rich in nitrogen or ‘greens’ like grass clippings, plant prunes, plant-based kitchen waste, fruits and vegetable rinds and peels.
- Avoid adding any material such as meat scraps or other animal-derived substances.
- Layer the green material on top of the brown material, making it a visibly thick layer.
- Make a thin layer of garden soil on top of it.
- Again, add some brown material, making a thin layer.
- Moisten all the layers by sprinkling adequate water.
- It’s good to have a compost pile which is three feet high and three feet long. Gather the material as per requirement or keep adding as and when available, making layers after layers.
- If you are making the compost in a bin, begin by drilling the bin and making enough holes for good air circulation.
- Move the stuff at the center of the pile to the outside at regular intervals for a couple of weeks. If you notice steam while turning the compost, it’s a sign that the compost pile is heating up, due to decomposition of its content.
- You will even notice earthworms in the center of the pile. This is the time when your compost is ready to use.
- Well-maintained compost will not give out any smell. However, if it does, add some carbon material or dry plant material into it.
Sunlight, the Ultimate Source of Energy
Believe it or not, but sunlight determines the number of blooms you get in your garden. Even if you water them regularly, prune them and provide organic compost, there are chances that you may not get the desired number of flowers on those plants; blame it on the sunlight! Too much or too little can burn the plant, and dry it. Hence it is important to ensure that the plants receive sunlight in just the right amount they require.
Like we human beings derive energy from the food we eat, plants get their energy through photosynthesis – a process where sunlight plays a major role. Low or partial shade plants may require sunlight for three to six hours a day. Full sun plant needs sunlight in the large amount, for over six to eight hours a day. Meanwhile, there are plants that need full shade, that is, they require sunlight only up to three hours a day, preferably morning sunlight. However, the plants are able to grow even if they do not receive direct sunlight.
The requirement of sunlight is not the same in all flowering plants. Hence, it is important to understand about it before deciding the placement of the plant.
Here are few signs which will help you to know if your plant is getting more or less sunlight. These tips can help you save your plant just in time.
Signs of getting more sunlight
- If the leaves or their edges appear dried
- If the plant is wilting
- If the flowers look dried or faded
Signs of getting less sunlight
- If the plant is looking weak or has thin stems.
- If the leaves have grown sparsely
- If the number of flowers or blooms reduce over the time
- If you find a flower leaning towards the sun as if trying to get more sunlight.
Carefully pick and Choose your Flowering Plants
When selecting flowers for your garden, the following aspects need to be considered:
This will form the crux and prove to be the future of your garden. Hence, to get the best result in return for the time, money and energy you have spent in your garden, it is wise to plant flowers as per the season that is associated with their growth. Your climate and season can play a big role in setting up your garden. Otherwise, there are chances of saplings or seedlings dying without seeing the daylight! Some flowers bloom in summers, while another blossom during winters. So, it’s a good time to plant the seed just ahead of the season to enjoy a happy and healthy plant.
Availability of Sunlight
You need to be fully aware of the availability of sunlight in your garden space to choose the plants accordingly. In case of landscape or terrace gardens, you don’t really have to be choosy, because there is ample amount of sunlight available. However, if it is a balcony garden, you need to be shrewd while making a choice. Moreover, you also need to be clear about the kinds of flowering plants you would want in your garden. Basically, there are two kinds of flowering plants: Perennial plants and annual plants.
Kinds of Plants
Perennial plants bloom only for a short time – about two to three weeks in a year. Although they do not flower throughout the year, their roots stay in the ground and re-grow year after year. The biggest advantage of these plants is that you can plant them once and forget about them, but they will sincerely show up every year when they are expected, in their season. Perennials are usually low-maintenance and are highly suitable for beginners as they do not require much effort in nurturing. All weather perennial plants such as Jasmine, Ixora, Vinca, Begonias, Lilies, Germanium and Bougainvillea are a common sight in home gardens due to their beautiful blooms and easy-to-nurture nature.
Annual plants, as the name suggests, need to be replanted every year, once they complete their life cycle. Their entire life cycle – from seed to fruit is experienced in their flowering season before they die when the season ends. Zinnia, Calendula, Petunia, and Marigold make a pretty sight in homes as winter blossoms.
Hence, if you wish that your garden keeps blossoming throughout the year, you carefully need to select plants that grow in different seasons.
Availability of space
If you own a landscape garden, you can directly plant the seed or a sprout in the ground. And it has enough space to grow under the ground and over it too; you need not worry about its actual size. However, if you choose pots to grow the majority of your flowering plants, you have to be sure about the actual height and size the plant will eventually grow into. The plants which do not get sufficient space to expand may stay undernourished. This may reduce the number of blooms in a year. Hence, select the pot according to the plant.
Water it right
Excess of food makes us obese while lack of it leaves us anemic. The same rule applies to the plants too. The amount of water given to the plant determines the health and life of it. Like sunlight, water too is required just in right quantities, according to the climate. So, it is important to be well-informed about the water requirements in different seasons and climate.
The ideal time to water the plant is either early mornings or late evenings. Cool soil absorbs all the water in the soil and avoids evaporation or loss of water. If you tap the pot, and it gives a dull sound, the soil at the bottom is still moist. This plant does not need watering. However, if the sound is hollow, it requires water. Also, if you notice dry soil in the pot, it’s time you water the plant. Water it completely, till the pot spills it, or drains from a hole provided at the bottom. This will ensure the reach of water till the roots. Drain excess water from the saucer of the pot. Under-watering or overwatering, both can result in wilting of the plant. If the water is less, the roots get dried up. In case of overwatering, there are chances of the roots getting rotten. Moreover, damp soil is more prone to bacterial or fungal infection, turning the plant into a diseased one. Besides all these points, the frequency of watering depends majorly on the climate you live in. So, know it all about the climate, before you actually turn on the sprinklers!
Here are 7 things on your checklist while you water your plants:
- Check the status of the soil.
- Give the right quantity of water.
- Drain excess water; avoid waterlogging.
- Water it evenly, keep the soil moist.
- Water early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Keep the leaves and flowers dry.
- Check regularly for under-watering or over-watering.
F n F Tip:
Worried about your plants while going for a long vacation? This tip may come handy! Flood your garden or pots will water till the brim. In case of pot, fill the bottom saucer too. Although waterlogged soil may not be something that plants like, they can put up with it occasionally. Like this, the plants will be happy at least for three weeks.
Follow the above-mentioned guidelines and enjoy your flower garden to the hilt – the colorful, vibrant, full blooms along with a dash of green – a perfect way to soothe your nerves and beat the stress. However, once you have started the garden and it is blooming, you also need to maintain it by taking care of few more aspects mentioned below to ensure a healthy garden for the rest of the year.
How to maintain your garden?
It’s clean up time – Weeding
We clean our house and office, then why not garden? Unusually so, a garden too needs a bit of a cleaning on regular basis. Known as weeding, the process involves pulling out weeds – all the unwelcomed, unnecessary or extra plants that grow around the native plants. They are mainly the result of the spreading of small seeds from the plants. The occurrence of weeds is more frequent in the landscape garden, mainly due to the space available. These weeds prove to be a threat to the native plants as they compete with them for all the basic requirements – water, sunlight, nutrients, and space, of course. Moreover, they are not affected by the pests or diseases that normally control them in their natural habitat.
However, contrary to their impression, some weeds are beneficial to the plants in many ways. Beneficial weeds bring up the water and nutrients from the deep soil and make it available to the native plants. They even hold the top-soil tight and prevent the plant from drooping.
Besides, weeds you need to clean the garden of dead leaves and withered flowers that gather under the plants time after time. This provides the plants with better sunlight and air circulation. Instead of disposing of the dry brown material, you can use it for making compost as mentioned earlier.
Pruning and Trimming
Pruning of plants is a horticulture activity and is mainly done to keep it in proper shape and size, or it may end up growing haphazardly. However, this process requires a bit of a knowledge of where and how to prune the plant. One wrong cut on the limb and there are chances that the plant may die. Pruning only requires selective trimming of small parts of leaves, branches, root or buds to maintain the structural integrity of the plant.
Here are few tips to prune your flowering plants:
- Flowering plants do not require heavy pruning; go slow and be gentle.
- Use the right equipment for pruning like shears or clippers.
- Check the plants once or twice in a week; cut or trim the dead flower heads.
- Cut the entire stem in case of too many or too little blooms on a single stem.
- Don’t leave the pruned material near the plant as it can attract pests and cause diseases.
F n F Tip:
Prefer pruning the flowering plant in the previous season; for instance, prune the summer flowering plants in late winter or early spring. This may increase the size and number of blossoms during that flowering season.
The good and the bad predators
Believe it or not, there are few predators such as ladybugs, toads, frogs, yellow and red paper wasps, lizards and birds which can prove to be beneficial gardens. Homeowners attract them by keeping food or water in their garden. However, some like ladybugs or earthworms are available commercially in cans to be used in the gardens. Earthworms with their constant movement in the soil help in aeration, while ladybugs feed on soft-bodied insects and larvae, saving the plants from being infested. These beneficial or good predators curb the pests in a natural way. Birds too are exceptionally good at controlling pests as they feed on snails, caterpillar and white butterflies which may harm your flowering plants. Hence, you can keep this space safe for kids and pets, without using any chemical pesticides.
However, the bad predators such as grasshoppers, ants, hornworm caterpillar, mosquitoes, snugs and snails usually feed on the flowers, fruits, and vegetable in the garden. Although they may not kill the host plant, they have the potential to infest the plant heavily.