Gardening Guide for Vibrant, Healthy Plants

Your flowers, herbs, and vegetables will perform well if they’re well-cared for. It’s just that simple. So use this gardening guide. Put these ideas to work, and you’ll see the results.

Orange daisy flower

Caring for your flowers through the growing season means more than simply watering and fertilizing.

Gardening Guide Step 1: Grooming
If you’re growing flowers like petunias, geraniums, or hibiscus, be sure to deadhead. This simply means removing the spent blooms. With hibiscus this is daily, since the blooms open and then die in a one-day cycle.

Below is a pot that illustrates just how much deadheading can affect flower appearance.

I deadheaded the white flowers, but not the pink ones. See the difference?

Deadheading doesn’t just make the plants look tidy. It also spurs re-blooming and eventually will result in pots that are flooded with a full array of flowers. There are some petunias on the market that advertise that they don’t need deadheading. My experience is that’s true—I’m growing flowers called “wave” petunias that flourish without picking off the dead ones.

Pruning is also a good idea, especially with flowers, herbs, and veggies that have woody stems. A good rule of thumb is to prune back to just above a set of leaves. With herbs this is especially helpful because you can harvest useful leaves and encourage bushy growth at the same time.

Gardening Guide Step 2: Repotting
If you’re successful with your planter boxes and pots full of perennials, shrubs, or trees, at some point you’ll need to repot them.

Try to repot in spring and fall —right before or right after the growing season.

Most of the time, permanent plantings can stay in the same garden container for a few years, provided every spring you dump out a good layer of the top soil and replenish it with fresh compost and fertilizer. But you’ll have to face the music after those few years.

Personally, I like repotting. It makes me feel like I’ve done a good enough job that the tree, bush, shrub, has stuck around and prospered.


This is especially true when I’m growing flowers such as peonies or hydrangeas (such as the one in this picture), which are more commonly found in garden beds.

Gardening Guide, Step 3: Wintering Over
When the summer and fall growing seasons come to a close, you may want to shut down your small space garden till next year. Maybe. If you want to plant winter-hardy pots, there are plenty of evergreens you can use, and in some climates flowers such as pansies, ornamental kale, and chrysanthemums can weather a winter.

Or, you might have cement pots or permanent plantings you’ve insulated, and your plants and planters can last through the winter in your climate zone. In these cases, you’re good to go.

Just prune those plants that need it, stop fertilizing until next growing season, and cut back on the watering unless you live in a warm climate.

For the rest of us, we’re either chucking the annuals and bringing in the perennials, or doing the same as those in warmer climates, but only for our evergreens.
Be sure to clean up and store your stuff for next season. See the wintering over gardening guide.

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