Soil is made up of ground up fragments of rock. The smallest of these might be microscopic. Soil also contains decaying organic matter, water, and air. It is "home" for roots, seeds, spores, insects, fungi, bacteria, worms and other organisms. The soil life chains are easily damaged, especially by machinery or through water logging. Understanding your soil is crucial to successful gardening and, in the longer term, the survival of mankind. Learning and knowing about your soil is the ultimate key to success.
Don't drown them
Roots need air as well as water, Keeping the compost soaked at all times means certain death for most plants. Try to learn how to water your plants, watch them carefully to see how they respond. There are four groups that plants will fit into with regards to watering.
Dry in winter plants
Dry in winter plants
Desert cacti and succulents should be treated as Moist/Dry plants during the active growth season from spring to autumn. During the winter the compost should be allowed to dry out almost completely.
Most foliage house plants belong to this group. The standard recommendation is to water thoroughly and frequently between spring and autumn, and to water sparingly in winter, letting the top 1/2 inch of compost dry out each time between waterings.
Moist at all times plants
Most flowering plants are in this group. The compost is kept moist, but not wet, at all times. The standard recommendation is to water carefully each time the surface of the compost becomes dry, but never frequently enough to keep the compost permanently saturated.
Wet at all times
There are very few plants that belong to this group. Water thoroughly and frequently enough to keep the compost wet, but not merely moist.
Always check the label on the plants that you buy to see what their own watering requirements are.
Give them a rest
Beginners are often surprised to learn that nearly all plants need a rest in winter, Which means less water, less feeding and less heat than in the active growing period. Nearly all indoor plants need a dormant or resting period during the year, and this generally takes place in the winter. Some plant give unmistakable signs that they are at the end of their growing period and even absolute beginners can tell that the usual maintenance routine will have to change. The appearance of fresh new growth in the spring is a sure sign that their resting period is over.
Accept the loss of temporary plants
Some popular gift plants, such as Cylamem, Chrysanthemum and Gloxinia will die down in a mater of weeks. You have done nothing wrong - these types are flowering pot plants that are only temporary residents in the house.
Treat trouble promptly
For experts or beginners trouble will strike at some time. One or two insects or bugs are easily picked off; but an infestation may be incurable. Over watering is not fatal at first, but kills when prolonged.
Group them together
Nearly all plants look better and grow better when grouped together. Try out different arrangements of your plants and make note of which plants enhance the beauty of others, bearing in mind that in different rooms there will be different amounts of light and each plant may have different needs. Remember to take into account the needs of each plant especially if planting them together in a tub, make sure their needs are compatible, i.e. water, light and feed.
Learn to repot
After a year or two most plants will need to be repoted, signs are that they are simply to big for the current pot or they begin to look very sick and struggling to grow. If there is no other reason for them to be unwell it is very likely that they just need to be repotted.
The plant must be able to flourish in the home you provide for it. Even the expert can not make a shade loving plant survive in a sunny window.
Have the proper tools
Buy a watering can with a long, narrow spout. You will need a reputable brand of compost and a collection of pots, stakes and plant ties or strings. Drip trays to keep water off furniture, a bottle of liquid fertilizer and a safe pest killer will help keep the plants looking healthy. To compliment your tool kit include a soft sponge, an old kitchen spoon or fork and a leaf gloss aerosol .
Check the plant's specific needs
Always check the labels on the plants you buy, ask at the garden shop to see if that plant you want will go where you want it to. Buy a small reference book to help you learn about the plants you want.
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