Do You Have Green Fingers?
Everybody loves nature. But a true nature lover is one who understands nature and nurtures it. We all love to smell flowers and arrange them in vases, but not many of us know how to grow them. Often it happens that a sapling or a potted plant purchased from a nursery with the best of intentions wilt under our thumbs, not due to any lack of attention, but due to lack of knowledge. Trees, plants and flowers set our heart singing, perhaps that is why we seek to imitate nature by indulging in gardening in whatever individual capacity we can.
Not all of us stay in bungalows with a backyard. Most of us live in matchbox houses with no garden space to speak of and have to make do with balconies, terraces or windows for open spaces. Yet, everyone likes to be surrounded by greenery and that's why small space gardens can be spotted with unfailing regularity in most homes. But it is a folly to think that watering is all what the plants need to grow. Plants are like human beings - individuals in their own right. Only if you familiarize and hobnob with them, will you understand them; only then will they perk up or bloom under your care.
Gardening is a very specialized activity, which needs to be driven by passion to produce results. We often hear phrases like 'green fingers' or 'green thumb'; what exactly do they mean? It is something like the Midas touch; if you have it, then plants are puppets in your hands. The heartening thing though is that, the Midas touch for gardening is not magical, but can be acquired with patience and time.
Before you decide what plants to grow in your home garden, you need to look into a whole lot of factors that guide their good health. The most important aspect of gardening is the soil. Soil comes in different composition, texture, structure and nutrient-value. You should acquaint yourselves with the soil types and their properties and find out which type is easily available to you before you start. A loamy soil retains moisture and is most fertile, while sandy soil is largely devoid of nutrients and drains easily. Loam is ideal for plants, but sandy soil needs a lot of value addition for it to measure up.
Climate is another significant parameter that determines which plants will fare better in a given place. Some plants prefer humid weather conditions, while others like cacti can survive in drought-like conditions also. Plants that are not sturdy, climbers and vines wither in windy places and need to be sheltered. In colder climes, frost can play havoc with tender shoots like that of Canna's. Some plants are native to certain ecological habitats and will not survive in far removed locales. So, you have to be careful while planting exotic species.
Sunlight is most essential for plants for them to prepare food by photosynthesis. Different plants require different lighting conditions. Some like sunflower need direct sunlight, while others like ferns thrive in shade. Those that require indirect sunlight or partial shade are good candidates as indoor plants.
With all these conditions in mind, you can now decide what foliage or flowering plants you want to nurture in your garden, or in containers or pots. Plants species are innumerable, but go in for the common ones; they are easier to maintain. Water or moisture is crucial to their health and well-being. Excessive watering that does not drain will cause them to rot and under-watering will make them wilt. It is best to water plants just so much at a time, but twice daily - in the morning and evening. The soil surface should just be wet and not water-logged.
Plants also need periodic pruning of leaves to instigate thicker growth and the soil needs to be mulched to air it.
It is believed that plants, like pets, love to be talked to. If that sounds far-fetched or embarrassing, then you could play some soothing instrumental music. Plant lovers vouch for such royal treatment. Be sure to update yourself on plants and plant care with information from books, Internet or better still from your local gardener or nurseries.
Phlox, petunias, primrose, ferns, philodendrons and palms jostling for space make a pretty picture. But, it is easier conceived than executed. Gardening takes loads of knowledge, tons of patience, time, and above all, a spirit to continue relentlessly in the face of failure. There is nothing like hands-on experience when it comes to gardening.
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