GARDENA Gardening Gloves

Don’t have green fingers? How to keep your garden alive

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If you’ve had a few disappointing experiences with plants, it can be easy to conclude that you just don’t have green fingers. But green fingers aren’t something you’re born with, they’re something you develop. Once you understand what your plants’ essential needs are, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to keep them growing healthily.

Treat your plants as individuals

All plants are different in terms of the conditions they need to thrive. When you’re thinking about buying a plant, find out whether it is likely to do well in the conditions you can offer it in your garden. Plants vary greatly in terms of the amount of sunlight they need, for example.

Labels on plants and seeds should tell you whether they need full sun, partial sun or partial shade. They may also tell you which temperature, climate and soil conditions they need, but the best way to inform yourself fully is to carry out a bit of independent research.

Getting your green fingers means getting in the habit of finding out what your plants need. Also, don’t feel shy to ask an expert – if you’re buying a plant from a garden centre or nursery, ask about whether it is suitable for the conditions in your garden and how best to care for it.

GARDENA combisystem Garden Hoe

Give them space

Good roots are essential for a plant’s survival, and they need space to function properly. Whether your plants are in planters or in the ground, it is important to make sure they have plenty of room for their roots. If you think their roots may be too squashed, move them to a larger container or a different part of the garden. When planting seeds, it’s fine to plant them fairly close together at first, but follow instructions on the packet about when and by how much to space them out later. An important step in developing your green fingers is getting confident at judging a plant’s environment and making necessary changes.

Prevent disease

Another task for green fingered gardeners is looking out for potential hazards. This begins with selection. Any diseased plants you bring into your garden could infect other plants, so look out for signs like blotchy, discoloured or spotted leaves, or any kinds of pest infestation. Also check the roots. Healthy roots are usually whitish, plentiful and firm. If a plant only has a few dark or squishy roots, it could have a root infection. To increase your chances of healthy plants, you can also buy varieties that are particularly disease resistant.

If you do have any diseased plants, treat or remove them. Don’t put any that you pull up on your compost heap, because diseases can be passed on in this way. Theoretically, the heat generated by thorough composting should kill diseases, but it is difficult to be sure about this if you’re not an expert, so put them in the bin to be on the safe side.

Know friend from foe

Many insects are harmless or even beneficial for your plants, but some can do a lot of damage. One of the worst culprits are aphids, many species of which are green, but some of which are also white, brown or black. These small insects suck the sap from plants and can carry a range of plant viruses. Small infestations can sometimes be tackled by repeatedly spraying plants with a strong jet of water, but otherwise try regular spraying with an insecticidal soap. Ladybirds and parasitic wasps eat aphids, so if you see any about, make them very welcome in your garden!

Getting the right amount of water - GARDENA

Getting the right amount of water: the key to developing green fingers

Most people who think that they don’t have green fingers just haven’t got the hang of watering yet. Leaving your plants without water for too long can be disastrous for their health, weakening their resistance to pests and disease, or even killing them. But overwatering can also be fatal for some plants.

Not all plants are equally sensitive to getting the right amount of water and this is again something to find out about. If you’re not confident of your ability to judge the amount they need, consider getting plants that are more flexible in their needs and more forgiving if you get it a bit wrong.

Another way of giving yourself a helping hand is to use a smart watering system like the GARDENA smart Sensor Control Set. This system uses a sensor to update you about moisture levels in the soil and allows you to programme a watering schedule according to their needs, whether you’re at home or elsewhere.

Plants aren’t as complicated as you might think. Get into the habit of thinking about your plants’ needs by keeping them free of pests and disease, and making sure they have the right amount of sun, space and water, and you may find out you had green fingers all along!