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Best Fertilizer For Gardens

The best fertilizer for gardens make flowers and vegetables grow healthy and strong. There are many types of fertilizers so picking the right one is an important first step.

For a new gardener it’s easy to think that after you’ve planted some veggies in the garden, making sure they get plenty of sunlight, and are watering them regularly, that should be all it takes to grow great plants and reap a successful harvest, right?

In theory it would be nice if growing a garden was that simple but it’s not.

best fertilizer for gardens

Nutrients Essential for Garden Plants

Plants are constantly feeding on nutrients found in the soil. Over time, they can deplete even the most fertile soil, making it necessary to add plant “food” to grow strong, healthy plants. Thankfully there is a variety of fertilizers available on the market to meet the needs of all garden plants and “restock” soil reservoirs.

Certain nutrients are essential for all plant growth:

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Sulfur
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Boron
  • Chlorine
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Molybdenum
  • Nickel

Three Most Important Plant Nutrients

These nutrients aid in the basic functions in the plant, without them, plants can’t grow. Fertilizers add these nutrients to the soil and are classified based on the three main elements that are needed in much higher amounts than the others

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

Nitrogen is listed first on the label since it is considered the most key nutrient needed for plant growth. It’s main responsibility in the plant is regulating vegetative growth. Nitrogen is assimilated in the plant into amino acids, the building blocks of protein; it is also a major component of chlorophyll and helps to keep foliage green; and nitrogen is necessary for many of the plant’s enzymatic reactions.

Phosphorus is a structural component in DNA and RNA (the genetic building blocks within plant cells) and is needed for root growth and flowering.

Potassium works more indirectly in plants than nitrogen and phosphorus. While it isn’t a component of any plant parts, it functions by activating the enzymatic reactions that occur, making it imperative for the overall health of the plant.

What Do the 3 Numbers Mean on Fertilizer

The 3 numbers on the fertilizer label are known as the N-P-K ratio (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium); this ratio tells the percentage, by weight, of the three main nutrients in the bag. The ingredients are always listed in the same order. First is Nitrogen then Phosphorus and last is Potassium (N-P-K).

For Example – In a 10-10-10 formula the bag mixture is

  • N – 10% Nitrogen 
  • P – 10% Phosphorus
  • K – 10% Potassium

In other words a 10 pound bag of fertilizer would contain 1 pound of nitrogen, 1 pound of phosphorus (in the form of P2O5), and 1 pound of potassium (in the form of K2O). The other 7 pounds is just filler, typically crushed limestone or sand.

The N-P-K ratio of organic fertilizers is typically lower than inorganic products. By law the ratio can only include the nutrients that are immediately available for uptake.

Test Your Garden Soil

Before you start adding garden fertilizers it is always a good idea to test the soil first. You don’t want to inadvertently add too many nutrients to the soil. Testing will tell you the PH level of the soil whether it’s alkaline or acidic.

The test will also give you good information on soil nutrient levels. With this information you will know exactly what types of fertilizer will be best for your plants. You can easily buy a soil test kit and do it yourself.

The other option is finding a laboratory that performs soil testing. Lab tests typically will provide more information than a do it yourself test kit.

Best Fertilizer for Gardens

Much of the nutrients in organic fertilizers are considered slow release, and need to be made available by soil microorganisms before the plant can take them in through the roots.

A quick look in any garden center, or a fast internet search, will provide you with a plethora of fertilizers to choose from. This may seem overwhelming but can be navigated by thinking about a few main concepts:

  • Do you want conventional or organic products?
  • A general purpose fertilizer or plant specific food?
  • A granule product or a liquid fertilizer?

You can then narrow down the selection based upon these personal preferences.

Conventional Inorganic Fertilizers

Fertilizers are made completely, or sometimes partially, from synthetic, man-made materials. These inorganic fertilizers contain nutrients in a specific blend that are quickly available for the plants.

Quickly available nutrients mean plant deficiencies are fixed more rapidly, minimizing long term damage to the vegetable, tomato plant etc… Inorganic fertilizers are cheaper to buy, and readily available for purchase.

One of the drawbacks to conventional fertilizers though is these quickly available nutrients have a greater chance of leaching out of the soil and causing contamination of water sources.

Organic Fertilizers

Made from natural ingredients, they consist of the broken down remains of organisms, or are a byproduct (i.e. waste) of the organisms themselves.

After organic fertilizers are applied to the soil, microorganisms and bacteria in the soil ecosystem break these materials down, making the nutrients they contain available for plant uptake.

Due to this natural composition, organic fertilizers have benefits over traditional conventional fertilizer products. The application of an organic fertilizer adds organic matter to the soil which in turn:

  • Increases water retention
  • Improves soil structure and better for the garden soil
  • Promotes microbial activity

The downsides to organic fertilizers are:

  • Higher price tag
  • Nutrients are more slowly available for plant uptake after application

General Purpose Fertilizers

Usually a complete fertilizer, meaning they contain all three of the key nutrients (N, P and K) and are balanced (the ratios of each nutrient is equal). A complete fertilizer is probably the best fertilizer for gardens.

They are formulated to meet the needs of most plants during a typical growing season, and work well in most gardens. Plant specific formulas are available for some plants and are formulated to meet the specific needs of that plant (or plants).

This is beneficial when plants have certain micro-nutrient needs that might not be met by just a general purpose plant food.

Granular vs Liquid Garden Fertilizer

Choosing to use a granular or a liquid fertilizer is entirely up to you.

Granules

These can be sprinkled on the soil around the base of plants. Keep the granules away from the plant stems and leaves. The granules can be worked into the ground surrounding the plants, or watered to make them dissolve into the soil faster.

Liquid Fertilizers

Need to be diluted in water and then applied when the plants are watered. Special hose attachments are available to dilute the product for you, as the hose is on and running.

Composting For Fertilizer

Composting using organic material is a great way to fertilize your garden bed. Grass clippings, dead leaves, table scraps make good compost. Just make sure they are fully decomposed, dark, dry and fall apart easily before using them. As compost continues to break down in your garden it will add nutrients to the soil, compost also helps soil to drain better and retain nutrients.

If you don’t have any compost materials or don’t feel like making them you can always buy compost which can be much more convenient.

Container Gardening Fertilizer

When planting in containers it’s a good idea to use a fertilizer. Nutrients are quickly lost in containers either because the plant uses them up or they are washed away from watering. A small amount of liquid fertilizer works well in containers.

Wrapping Up Best Fertilizer For Gardens

After you decide what the best garden fertilizer is for your plants you might ask yourself how do I apply a garden fertilizer? The best advice is to simply look at the detailed instructions on the fertilizer package regarding how often to feed garden plants, and the rate at which to apply fertilizer. These rates will vary according to the fertilizer used and it’s N-P-K ratio.

As plants consume nutrients in the soil, it becomes necessary to replenish the soil reserves to grow strong, healthy plants. Commercially available fertilizers are intended to do just that.

A gardening market flooded with fertilizer products gives you the ability to tailor a fertilizer schedule/program to fit specific growing needs and philosophies. Knowing these basics about the best fertilizer for gardens will hopefully help make this choice less daunting.

Best Fertilizer For Gardens2019-06-30T23:47:13-05:00

How To Make Your Garden Look Nice On A Budget

how to make your garden look nice on a budget

Trying to figure out how to make your garden look nice on a budget is actually quite easy. One of the best things about planning a garden is that you can take it in any direction that suits your fancy. You have the flexibility to basically do whatever you want. A garden can be designed in any manner you want it to be, it is a blank slate waiting for you to get started.

Want a landscaped space comprised solely of gorgeously fragrant, blooming plants? Go for it.

Want a garden that is full of vegetables and herbs? Perfect.

Dreaming of a space that wonderfully melds vegetables, herbs, flowers and native plants? Go all out.

The limiting factors are your creative imagination and the space (and budget!) you have available to use. Even in small spaces you can make a gorgeous garden in fact you’d probably find it cheaper if you have less space to work with.

Don’t limit yourself to just your backyard either. You can learn how to landscape your front yard yourself as well. Making a cheap front yard garden that looks great will certainly add to the curb appeal of your home. You can even put a small garden around your mailbox, that can look really nice.

If you are in need of a new mailbox I wrote up an article about what I think is the best mailbox and a great and unique way I found to install it.

Now to get the most of your garden space on a budget but still making it look nice, it is important to sit down and do some planning before going out and spending any money on garden plants. Taking a few minutes or days to think about a couple of concepts will help make the most of your garden space and your money.

Pick a Spot With Available Light

Available light is one of the key factors in growing a beautiful garden, regardless of the plants chosen, or the care given to them, is making sure they receive the proper amount of sunlight needed. Plants need full sun, partial sun/partial shade, or full shade.

Full Sun – Full sun means the spot receives 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day. It doesn’t have to be a continuous 6 hours, and can be broken up throughout the day, with some occurring in the morning and another chunk in the afternoon.

Partial Sun / Partial Shade – These two terms are fairly interchangeable and mean a spot receives 4-6 hours of direct sun over the course of the day. Both would prefer to receive early morning or evening light, being shaded from the most intense sun in the mid to late afternoon.

Partial sun plants need a minimum of 4 hours and will do better the closer to 6 they can get. Partial shade plants need a maximum of 6 hours of sun but prefer the lesser amount.

Full Shade – Full shade means less than 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. This doesn’t mean the plant never receives any sunlight. Full shade plants will thrive with filtered sunlight, or some early morning direct sun.

Types of Plants for Your Garden

Plants can be classified in one of three ways Perennials, Annuals and Biennials. Make sure to take into account their growing tendencies:

Perennials

Perennials return year after year with little to no encouragement, providing continuous garden blooms. These plants tend to have a higher price tag up front but can be more economical in the long run.

Annuals

Annuals only live for one growing season and need to be replanted every year. They can add color to small sections of a garden and be switched out year to year.

Biennials

Biennials are a hybrid of the two; the first year is spent focusing on vegetative growth, the second year the plant blooms and completes its life cycle.

flower garden

Raised Beds or In Ground Planting Look Nice on a Budget

A raised garden bed is in essence a large planting box used for gardening instead of the traditional method of sowing plants directly in the ground. The raised beds, or “garden boxes” add an aesthetic appeal to the landscape, while also providing many advantages to the homeowner: portability, ease of use, handicap accessible, better weed and pest control, extended growing season, and higher yields.

They are pretty inexpensive and adding a few around your yard would like really nice. If you are somewhat handy you can save some money by simply heading down to the local home improvement store buying some cheap supplies and making your own raised garden bed yourself.

Obviously this requires much more physical work but it might save you some money, which is always nice.

After you look at those garden ideas, you can get into the fun part! Sitting down and designing a plan that will make your garden look nice on a budget but that also allows you to express your creativity and come up with an idea that is perfectly suited to your personality.

Traditional Garden Layouts on a Budget That Look Nice

I think this is the stereotypical image of what a garden looks like when most people think about a garden. It is extremely popular and the easiest to plan and implement. A traditional site is designed in either a rectangular or square shape with plants forming neat, tidy rows within the garden site.

Plants can be grouped based on height, companion planting benefits, or by the types of vegetables/flowers grown. Space between the rows allows the gardener easy access to plants and weeds can be controlled by hand or using a roto tiller.

Watering and fertilizing is simplified due to the uniform garden shape. Raised garden beds work well in a traditional garden design.

Non-Traditional Layout

A design can be created that incorporates garden space into an established landscape. Sometimes a homeowner doesn’t wish to dedicate a large, rectangular/square space to a garden but still wants the benefits of a large garden.

Instead they can add garden plants along the perimeter of a yard, nestling vegetables and herbs amongst flowers and shrubs. A great option with a non-traditional layout is to add undulating landscape curbing throughout the yard.

This curbing creates a border, separating the garden from the lawn. You can then plant small chunks of vegetables or herbs in this perimeter bed. This works best if there is an irrigation system in place to reduce the time spent watering by hand.

The biggest benefit to this system is if down the road the desire for a garden diminishes, it is easier to fill the spaces with landscape shrubs or even rocks/mulch versus having a chunk of ground that needs to be reseeded, or turned into something more useable.

container gardening

Container Gardens Look Nice on a Budget

A container garden is also another extremely popular idea, especially if you are just beginning to garden or don’t want to spend a lot. Of course you might need to buy some containers and they can very from really expensive to really inexpensive. You can always buy cheap containers or you can even find containers just lying around that can be used. You certainly do not need to spend a lot of money on a container.

Vegetables and herbs can be planted in containers and then placed on a patio or scattered around the yard, creating visual appeal to the landscape. Containers can be moved as needed and are easy to tend to. Containers are a great, easy and cheap way to make your garden look nice on a budget.

Buy Seeds

If you really don’t want to spend much money on anything just go to your nearby big box store and buy a few packs of plant or flower seeds. These are very cheap and will only cost a few bucks. It is a little more work because you have to plant them and nurture them a bit and hope they grow. This is certainly cheaper than buying fully grown plants or flowers and it can be more fun.

I love planting seeds and watching them grow from nothing into a beautiful flower. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment.

Rock Garden Ideas

Another inexpensive way to make a nice looking garden on a budget is to create a rock garden. Rocks are certainly cheap and you don’t have to worry about watering them or giving them plenty of sunlight.

Rock gardens can look really great, and it doesn’t have to just be rocks you can plant a few flowers here and there which will help give the rock garden a touch of color and make it feel a bit more vibrant.

This would definitely be cheaper than filling a large open area with nothing but flowers and plants, and it would require much less maintenance. If you just have an empty space that really doesn’t get much sunlight and you don’t know what to do with it, maybe try a rock garden.

On a Budget Make Your Garden Look Nice with Additional Garden Elements

No matter the design layout, remember that many budget friendly elements can be added to a garden to increase its aesthetic appeal. Water features will encourage butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden, which in turn will then pollinate garden plants.

Flowering shrubs and garden flowers bring extra color to a space, breaking up the solid green. Garden centers and nurseries also have a huge selection of wind chimes and other decor to help personalize a space.

I also like those little solar powered landscape lights, some aren’t so great but others look really nice and really spruce up a pathway or driveway or anywhere around a garden and you can get them for a good price.

A garden should be a reflection of you, an extension of your personality. Adding a variety of plants, decor, and other landscaping features can help create a unique space that will be well enjoyed. If you do a great job it will make your yard look so much nicer and much more enjoyable to look at everyday.

These are just a few of my ideas but I am sure you can think of many more that will give you the garden space that is perfect for you and at the right price.

How To Make Your Garden Look Nice On A Budget2019-06-24T01:36:47-05:00

Raised Garden Bed

The raised garden bed has gained immense popularity in the last couple of decades but the concept itself has been around for a long time.

Similar to container gardening, a raised garden bed is in essence a large planting box used for gardening instead of the traditional method of sowing plants directly in the ground.

Elevated garden beds, or “garden boxes” add an aesthetic appeal to the landscape, while also providing many advantages to the homeowner. Here are some ideas on how to make your garden look nice on a budget.Raised Garden Bed

Advantages of a Raised Garden Bed

Ease of Use – One of the most advantageous aspects of building a raised garden is how much easier it makes gardening for people.

This is especially important for people with physical limitations. A raised garden bed puts less stress on the body and could be easier on your back and knees over traditional gardening.

Clean Slate – Sometimes it’s easier to start over than to fix existing problems, including what’s wrong with a particular garden soil.

Building a raised garden bed and bringing in all new soil could prove to be easier than amending the soil that already exists in the garden.

Often times naturally occurring soils need modification such as garden fertilizers in order to achieve optimum plant growth. Sometimes the pH is too low, sometimes the soil pH is too high, and in either case the soil needs the pH adjusted to maximize nutrient availability.

The soil could also be low in organic matter, high in salts, or maybe it has a texture that isn’t the best for plant growth. Instead of spending the time and money needed to amend a soil and get it to a certain pH or texture, filling raised planters with all new material allows the gardener to start fresh with a soil that is well suited for garden plants.

Improved Soil Structure – Bringing in new material to fill a garden bed also means a soil structure is created that is loose and friable. It contains a high amount of decomposed organic matter full of microorganisms and plant beneficial bacteria.

This improved soil structure allows for root growth, improved aeration, and better water drainage which keep roots from becoming waterlogged. The raised garden also means less foot traffic as plants are tended to, reducing the soil compaction.

Above Ground Garden

Enhanced Weed Control – Compared to traditional garden plantings, raised bed gardens experience less weed problems. This is in part due to the new material – typically potting soil – brought in to fill the newly constructed beds.

These materials are screened to be free of weed seed reducing problems from the start. The plants in raised bed gardens are also planted more closely together.

As the plants grow, the shade canopy created is greater, and many weed species are suffocated out. Another benefit is that hand pulling weeds is easier because of the looser, more friable soil structure.

Better Pest Control Just like the reduction in weed problems, infestations of pests are also decreased in raised bed gardens. Most garden pests crawl along the ground to reach the base of desired plants.

Walls on the sides of the raised garden boxes will deter them from making their way to the plants. They will quickly look for plants that are more easily accessible.

Secondly, it’s easier to spot pests in raised beds since the plants are closer to eye level and easier to inspect. Infestations are spotted earlier and treated more quickly, lessening the damage caused.

Extended Growing Season – When the weather begins to warm in the spring, the soil in a raised garden will thaw more quickly than the solid ground.

Once the soil in a raised bed is thawed, seedlings can be planted earlier since the soil temperature will be warmer than the ground.

Hoops can also be constructed over the top of a raised bed garden. Plastic sheeting stretched over the hoops create mini-greenhouses, allowing plants to grow longer in the fall than in the open air. This provides an advantage if you live in an area with a shorter growing season.

Portability – If garden plants don’t seem to be getting enough sunlight, a raised bed can be moved to a sunnier location.

Sometimes this will require dismantling the sides of the beds and then building a raised garden in a new spot. If chicken wire is used as a base of the structure, it may be possible to just slide the beds to a new location.

Higher Yield – Better soil quality, increased aeration, higher levels of soil organic matter will all contribute to higher yielding plants. Less competition with weeds and lower incidence of pests lead to less stress on plants and once again higher yields.

Plants in raised beds are also planted closer together than cultivated flat ground, increasing yields.

Raised Garden

Building a Raised Garden Bed

The first step in building a raised garden, is determining the best placement. Garden plants need plenty of sunlight to grow and prefer protection from the harsh wind.

Once the location is figured out the bed can be constructed in any size desired. Lumber is the most common material used, but retaining blocks can work well also.

A raised bed at least 6” will provide plenty of space for roots to grow. After the frame of the raised bed is built clear the grass out from the bottom and line the bed with mesh hardware cloth, landscape fabric, or newspaper to minimize weeds.

Once the raised bed is fully constructed fill it with a mixture of nutrient rich soil and compost. Keep in mind the larger the bed, the more material will be needed to fill it. After constructed and filled with soil it’s time to plant and enjoy the advantages of a raised garden bed.

Wrapping Up

Of course if you don’t want to build your own raised garden you can always purchase a raised garden bed kit which would make the process much easier.

With the many advantages of a raised garden bed it’s easy to see why they are gaining so much popularity in home gardens. They are much easier on the body than gardening on the flat ground.

They offer improved soil structure, less weeds and pests, and higher planting rates with yields that are higher as well. This is a win-win situation for home gardeners.

Raised Garden Bed2019-07-01T13:27:28-05:00

Container Gardening

Easy Container Gardening For Beginners

At one point before container gardening became popular, people thought in order to successfully grow a garden, a large yard was needed on property they owned. Rental properties, apartments, townhouses, etc. don’t provide the outdoor space and often times, the permission, to dig up a large chunk of ground to use for planting.

In the last ten or fifteen years container gardening has become a more popular, feasible solution in these limiting spaces; allowing people to grow gardens in places previously thought not allowable.

Easy Container Gardening for Beginners

What is Container Gardening

Simply put, container gardening is the practice of growing plants – both edible and ornamental – exclusively in containers instead of planting in the ground.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Container Gardening

With many positive aspects or advantages in container gardening, it’s easy to see why it’s gaining such popularity. Even those with adequate outdoor space for a traditional garden are experimenting in container gardening. There are also some disadvantages to container gardening. Below are both the advantages and disadvantages of container gardening.

Outdoor Garden Container

Advantages to Container Gardening:

  • An easy to change configuration makes it simple to modify the layout. Even after the planting is done new containers can be quickly added, or removed. Just keep in mind plants heights and how this can affect sunlight exposure for neighboring containers.
  • A big benefit of container gardening is the creativity it encourages. Many things can be used to plant in, sometimes taking a little creativity to turn an item into a planter, thus adding to the aesthetic component of a yard/patio. Mix and match a variety of heights, colors, and container materials to create a beautiful focal spot to accent your home.
  • Container gardening for beginners is an excellent way for a novice to try their hand at growing their own plants. There is no permanent transformation of their lawn/yard; if the project is unsuccessful or not enjoyable, it doesn’t require reseeding a section of grass or transforming a barren section of landscape.
  • It’s an excellent way to get kids and entire families involved in growing plants and vegetables. They can be involved in the process, start to finish; this can encourage them to try new foods as well.
  • Growing plants in containers helps to save water. When watering plants in the ground, the water spreads out to surrounding soil and evaporates through the soil surface. Less surface area in containers means less water is needed since less is lost to the atmosphere.
  • Just like water, plants grown in containers need less fertilizer/food for healthy, strong growth. When fertilizer is applied to potted plants it remains in a more concentrated area (because the water doesn’t spread to the surrounding soil), defined by the container itself. Here are some tips on choosing the best fertilizer for gardens.
  • Lower incidence of weeds.
  • There are fewer problems with disease when plants are grown in containers. When diseases occur they are typically noticed more quickly, and spreading is decreased between plants. It is also easier and more economical to treat one container than an entire in-ground garden.
  • The mobility of containers allows more control over sun exposure. Plants can be moved during the day to follow the path of the sun, or can be moved to a slightly shaded area when sunlight becomes too intense.
  • There is less trouble with pests. Typically, containers are kept closer to residential structures, decreasing the risk of animal pests grazing on tender plants. Deer, rabbits, raccoons, birds, etc. will hesitate to approach the containers as they are skittish of humans in the closer proximity. Neighboring pets will also be less likely to bother container plants.

As flexible as container gardening can be, there are some disadvantages that need to be considered when planning a project.

Container Gardening Ideas for Planters

Disadvantages to Container Gardening:

  • The cost of materials/supplies is going to be higher than traditional gardening. Containers and potting soil will need to be purchased before planting can be done. As the amount of containers planned for increases, so does the supply cost associated. You can find cheap containers and here are some ideas on how to make your garden look nice on a budget.
  • Water management requires a little more attention. Containers, although they need less water overall, will dry out more quickly than the ground will because of less volume. Plants can’t spread their root systems as far, limiting access to water.
  • Micro-environments are created within containers when used for gardening. One of the big concerns with these micro-environments is the increased soil temperatures that can be experienced. This is evident more in dark, and/or metal containers that absorb the heat from sunlight. Care needs to be taken to avoid the soil from becoming too hot and damaging the root systems.
  • The size of containers is limiting. You can only grow plants that fit into the containers available, at the correct plant spacing for the species chosen. Grouping plants too closely together will restrict air movement, and limit the amount of moisture and nutrients available per plant.

Container Gardening

Getting Started with Container Gardening

To get started with container gardening assess the space available to work with, and determine which plants you’d like to grow. Some of the best plants for container gardening are herbs which are a good, easy starting point if there is no previous gardening experience.

These vegetables are fairly low maintenance when grown in container vegetable gardens:

  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Beans
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers

The three below grow well in containers too but the spreading vines will need more space than upright plants:

  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Melons

You can also grow perennials and annuals if you are looking for some easy container gardening for beginners flowers to grow in pots. Once the types of plants (and quantity) are chosen the containers and potting soil can be purchased. Use the biggest pot/pots possible to keep the soil from drying out as fast.

Creative Ideas For Plant Containers

Upcycling old items (wagons, wash tubs, barrels, etc.) for use as containers is a creative way to reduce supply costs. Make sure though any items used have drainage holes, yet will adequately hold soil. If need be, line the inside of containers with newspapers to prevent soil from falling out.

When planting, keep in mind proper plant spacing to encourage optimum growth and adequate air circulation. To foster growth, water containers thoroughly as needed, keeping the soil from drying out completely.

Fertilize periodically to provide ample nutrients, continuously watch for harmful pests, and prune back tattered leaves and spent blooms to encourage new growth.

Easy Container Gardening For Beginners

Go For It!

With a little time and effort, beginners can make container gardening easy, which can become a successful, fulfilling venture. Keeping the disadvantages in mind will help increase the chances of success and a bountiful harvest.

When container gardening is done correctly it is possible to create an artistic, aesthetically pleasing container garden that allows for flexibility while still being functional.

Not only does it add to a traditional in-ground garden, it allows people with limited space the chance to grow their own plants.

Container Gardening2019-06-30T16:03:30-05:00

Tulip

The tulip is synonymous with spring, brightly colored tulip blooms accent gardens all around the world. Tulips are an extremely popular perennial flower due to their ease in growing – with minimal care and upkeep; they grow beautifully in most garden settings. They come in a variety of colors, plant heights, and flower shapes making them extremely versatile for any garden space.


Tulip Facts

  • Scientific Name – Tulipa sp.
  • Life Cycle – Perennial
  • Soil pH – 6.0 – 7.0
  • Plant Hardiness – USDA Zones 3-8
  • Light Requirements – Full Sun/Part Sun
  • Water Requirements – Low
  • Fertilizer Demand – Low
  • Planting Date – Fall
  • Flowering Season – Early Spring
  • Height – 6″ – 2′
  • Colors – Almost Every Color
  • Pests – Mold, Bulb Rot, Aphids, Slugs, Snails
  • Propagation – Division

How to Grow Tulips

Tulips are classified as perennial plants, but their life cycle is dependent on the hardiness zone where they are planted. Being native to Central Asia, tulips are predisposed to climates where there are long winters and a cooler spring.

Therefore they require a cold winter to continue to bloom in successive years.  Tulips will “perennialize” best in zones 7 or colder. This process is known as vernalization: plants need about 8 – 10 weeks of soil temperatures registering between 45 – 50°F and then a climactic rebound to warmer temperatures to produce a flower bud.

Because of this it may be best to treat tulips as annuals in areas where winter temperatures do not drop for sustained periods of time. While planting new bulbs every fall may get tedious, it will ensure continuous blooms every spring.

Tulips Bulbs Care

Bulbs should be planted in the fall, 6 -8 weeks before a hard frost is anticipated for the area. This ranges from September to October depending on the growing area. Tulips prefer sunny spots in the garden, but need some partial shade in zones that have higher daytime temperatures and more intense sunlight.

They do not like their roots to be wet so look for sites with well-drained soil that is slightly acidic to neutral.  Work the garden site well, adding in broken down compost a few inches below where the bulbs will be planted.

Then plant tulip bulbs approximately 8” below the soil surface, and space them 4 – 6” apart. Water the bulbs well after planting to help trigger their growth.

Tulip Care

Tulips are fairly drought tolerant and do not need much water, other than what they receive from rainfall. Because of this, irrigation systems can be detrimental to tulip beds. It’s best to route water lines around the beds to keep the soil from being too wet as this abundant moisture encourages bulb rot.

Tulip plants also don’t require much fertilizer; a yearly addition of compost to the soil will provide everything the plants need for optimal growth and will also help to improve soil drainage.

Tulip Pests

Too much water is the enemy of tulips, and many of the pests and diseases that affect plants are related to damp conditions. Gray mold and bulb rot are the two most common disease afflictions; both of which are mostly preventable by keeping soil moisture controlled and avoiding overwatering. When plants are infected the treatment is removal of any affected plant material.

Tulip plants are typically attacked by pests correlated to wet conditions such as:

  • Aphids
  • Slugs
  • Snails

Rodents are particularly fond of tulip bulbs and preventative measures should be put in place to deter these creatures.

  • Voles
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels

Types of Tulips

Tulips come in many different colors and sizes, there are many different types of tulips that will look great in a tulip garden.

Single Early Tulip:

Are the ones you usually see in the beginning of spring. They come in all different colors and grow between 6 and 18 inches tall.

Double Early Tulip:

Have more petals then the single early version. They come in reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, and white. They usually grow around beginning to mid spring and grow up to 12 inches tall.

Darwin Hybrid:

Grow in mid spring and have a pyramid shape to them. They come in many bright colors such as pink, yellow, orange, and red.

Triumph Tulip:

Also grow in mid spring. They are very large and grow to 14 to 24 inches. They come in a wide variety of colors.

Single Late:

Is another tall version of this flower. They can be anywhere from 24 to 30 inches tall. The flower itself has an oval shape to it. They also come in a wide variety of colors.

Fringed Tulip:

Named for the way they look. The edge of the petals are fringed. They come in purple, pink, red, white and yellow. They grow 14 to 26 inches tall.

Lily Flowered:

A beautiful look to it. The petals are pointy shaped, and open up like a delicate looking flute. They come in all kinds of colors.

Parrot Tulip:

The Parrot Tulip has a different look. They have fringed petals that open wide. This type comes in bright colors and is very large.

Greigii Tulip:

Blooms in mid spring and the flower stand straight up at attention. The petals do not spread out far when opened.

Viridiflora:

Flowers are 16 to 21 inches tall. They are also called green tulip because of the green streak on their leaves.

Double Late:

Are full flowers with a large bloom. They bloom in late spring and are 14 to 24 inches high.

Rembrandt:

Have strange looking marks on them. They are from a virus that was spread onto the plants. They are not usually planted anymore.

Fosteriana:

Blooms in mid spring and has large flowers. They look very tall and can grow to be 12 – 18 inches tall.

Kaufmannia:

Have a very large blossom. They bloom in mid spring.

Tulip Mania

Now we can’t have a page about tulips without mentioning Tulip Mania. During the 1630s the people in the Netherlands began to really like tulips. Their beautiful vibrant colors attracted people and tulips became a must have luxury item.

At the start people bought and sold tulips normally giving money in exchange for the tulips. Eventually as demand increased for tulips the price skyrocketed. Tulips began to be traded the same way stocks are traded today.

With the rise in prices speculators began to buy tulips at the end of the season. They did not receive the tulips. They were buying on the premise that the price of tulips would continue to rise in the future and be worth more than what they originally bought them for. This was buying in a futures market.

It became a tulip mania where buyers and sellers were rapidly buying and selling pieces of paper without anyone actually receiving any tulips. In 1637 the demand for tulips suddenly stopped. The prices for tulips crashed into the ground and they became worthless. Anyone still holding a purchase contract for tulips lost a lot of money when the bubble suddenly burst.

Tulip Conclusion

Available in many gorgeous colors and shapes, tulips are a fantastic accent in many gardens. They grow as annuals in warmer climates and perennials in areas where winters get cold enough for vernalization. Needing very little water, and little fertilizer, they are an easy plant to put into a garden space for early to mid-spring blooms.

Tulip2019-06-15T00:03:00-05:00