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The experienced gardener will tell you that he’s had his share of gardening mishaps. It’s disappointing to buy a healthy plant or grow something from seed just to watch it wither away.

While some seem born with green thumbs, there are six groundrules for cultivating plants that, if followed, increase the chances for gardening success. These are: buy plants for the climate in which you live, follow planting instructions regarding sun and shade, water according to what the plant needs, give the plant the proper soil, treat for garden pests and diseases as necessary and give the plant attention.

Purchase a Plant for the Climate

Before buying any plant, make sure it will survive the climate. Primroses love the sun but will not tolerate heat. They will simply not survive hot summers. Tropical flowers and shrubs must have sun, heat and moisture. It’s tempting to make an impulse purchase for something beautiful, but check first whether or not it’s suited to your area.

Sun and Shade

It may sound simple, but a plant is at risk if it doesn’t get enough or gets too much sun. Zinnias and daisies must have lots of sun, caladiums thrive in shade. Full sun is defined as at least four hours of direct sunlight per day.

Water

All plants do not need the same water. Bougainvillea thrives on neglect and will drop its leaves if watered too much. Impatiens won’t make it without frequent watering. Yellow leaves are usually an indictor of overwatering. Find out what a plant needs and then provide it.

Soil

The soil provides the foundation for the plant’s roots. While some flowers and shrubs thrive in anything, most need soil with enough nutrients and aeration to give the roots room and substance to grow heartily. Enhance dirt and clay with fertilizer, sand and vermiculite. Simply sticking a plant in the ground often will be disappointing later unless attention is paid to keeping the roots happy.
Pests and Diseases

After a plant is in the ground, there are multitudes of garden pests ready to call it dinner. Numerous products are available for combating insects, slugs and snails. If leaves begin to disappear or turn yellow or gray, take a sample to a nursery for a quick diagnosis. There are natural remedies also. For instance, crushed eggshells will deter slugs and snails and won’t harm plants. Diseases which affect plants are often difficult to treat. Do what you can with the products available.

Attention

Finally, there’s been much written on whether or not plants have feelings. Not to debate that point, they do as a rule respond to attention. And by watching what’s going on with your garden, you’re more apt to find quick remedies to problems. Though it may seem silly to talk to plants, the carbon dioxide released from breathing out is a nutrient to a plant.

These are the basics of gardening. Don’t give up if you’ve had plants wilt on the vine. There are reasons why that happens. Learning from mistakes will help produce successes and lead to healthier plants and a happier gardener.