Tips for Garden Plants

Planting and maintaining a flower garden can overwhelm the new gardener. Mulches, fertilizer and choices of plants get confusing. Getting back to the basics helps experienced and novice gardeners remember the fundamental tenets of proper gardening. Garden plants require similar care to succeed in the landscape. Learning these tips will remind you of the best way to care for your various garden plants.

Fertilizing Perennials

Perennial plants reappear each spring as shoots in the flower garden. These plants sleep through the winter, sheltered by layers of soil and mulch. Fertilize perennials when shoots reach 3 to 4 inches high in the spring. Apply a high-quality 5-10-5 fertilizer on the soil, and rinse off any fertilizer from foliage. An alternative to liquid or granulated fertilizer involves cultivating the area around the base of each plant. Apply a layer of compost to naturally feed the perennial, and mix this into the soil. Use care when cultivating to avoid damaging perennial roots.

Mulch

Garden plants need moisture to survive. A mulch layer holds moisture in the soil for use by all types of garden plants. Apply mulch in late spring after the soil temperature warms and soil dries from spring rain. Mulch depth depends on your preference, but a general rule recommends a 2-inch layer of new mulch per year. Rake the surface of existing mulch to limit layering. The total depth should not exceed 2 to 3 inches. Mulch will break down over time to enrich the soil.

Smart Watering Practices

Some gardeners water every single day to keep garden plants alive during hot summer days. Save yourself some money and time by learning proper watering techniques. Container gardens need your attention every day. Garden plants benefit from the increased moisture-holding capacity in the soil. Use a soaker hose to apply water deeply into the soil layers. Let water trickle from a hose around the base of each plant. A good soaking once a week will reach the deep roots and keep soil evenly moist. A light sprinkling only touches the leaves and top few inches of soil. Water evaporates long before the plant can use it for optimum growth. Stick your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle as a test. If the soil feels dry, your plants need water.

Selecting Bedding Plants

Bedding plants form the backbone of many home gardens. These easy-to-care-for plants come to the consumer raring to go. Full blooms and foliage produce instant results in the garden. Buy healthy plants to increase the beauty in your garden and to get the most for your dollar. Choose bedding plants with thick foliage and many stems. Look for healthy green foliage instead of lots of flowers. Avoid plants with many blooms, since they'll need your assistance with deadheading and pruning sooner than a flower-free new plant. Never purchase plants with yellow leaves or dead foliage.

Keywords: garden plant tips, selecting plants, gardening tips

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.