10 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Gardening

You might not believe it, but you were born with a green thumb. It may have gone untended for a while, but it's there waiting for you to nudge it awake. Put away your theory of being a plant killer, that anything dies under your care. Forget those nagging thoughts of where your garden will live or when you'll find the time, it's there somewhere. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and you'll get more than you give. So, here are 10 tips for conquering your fear of gardening:

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Gardening Tips for Renters

Want to bring more green to your house or apartment? Using a few easy, inexpensive techniques, <a href="http://www.thehorticult.com/">The Horticult</a> shows how you can garden like you own the place -- without risking your security deposit. You don't have to own your home to create a garden that reflects your personal style. Grow your favorite plants and create an inspired landscape -- or patio, interior, or balcony -- using these fun, low-commitment methods. (Although you might want to check with your landlord about the larger projects!) And if you move, you can take it all with you. These 10 tips for renters will give your garden a new lease on life.

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Summer Checklist

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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

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Landscape Ideas

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Popular in Gardening

Annuals in Strawberry Jars

Growing annual flowers in strawberry jars is a fun way to get lots of color in a small space. Here are tips for designing and maintaining a good-looking strawberry-jar garden.

The Basics

Flowers that are especially suited for planting in strawberry jars are those that cascade, including petunia, lobelia, and impatiens.

For best effect, avoid using plants that will grow too large and hide the jar's interesting features. Keep the plants in the jar simple, using only a few plant types such as the New Guinea impatiens, sweet alyssum, zinnias, and wax begonias. Your strawberry jar can be instantly beautiful if you plant it with flowers in bloom or in bud. If you grow your annuals from seed, give them an early start indoors.

Pick flower colors that complement the red in the clay. For a cooling color contrast, poke such white-flowering favorites as candytuft, sweet alyssum, or begonias into the pockets. Blue or violet will burst into life from ageratum, nierembergia, or lobelia. One of the most cheerful combinations can come from pansies; their "faces" will peek in all directions from the jar.

Your choices also will depend on where the jar will be placed. In a cool, moist, and shaded spot, try baby-blue-eyes, browallia, or mimulus. Out in the sun, marigolds, zinnias, and petunias will do best. In areas where it's very hot, drought-tolerant portulaca or vinca are good performers.

Instructions:

1. Add soil. Fill the jar to the lowest pocket with moist potting medium that is light and crumbly but moisture-retentive.

2. Prune. To help plants adjust more readily if weather is not ideal at planting, clip off flowers. Plants will form new buds as soon as the roots establish themselves.

3. Add plants to pockets. Set one plant into each pocket, then add soil to cover the roots. Firm the soil gently. It's easiest if you start with the lowest pocket and work your way up the jar.

4. Finish. When all the side pockets are planted, plant in the top of the jar. Again, to ease the adjustment for plants, clip off flowers already in bloom.

Tips

  • Plants in strawberry jars look their best when they are watered daily. Provide good drainage at the bottom so the lower plants don't become waterlogged while the top ones dry out.
  • To keep plants blooming from spring till frost, remove flowers as soon as they fade. A light pruning in midsummer will keep growth neat and in check throughout the growing season. Because large strawberry jars can be cumbersome, put them on casters to move them around easily on your patio or deck, or to rotate them so that sunlight hits them evenly. If plants start looking tired and bedraggled, simply move the jar out of sight while you spruce it up.
  • For a special effect, use different sizes of strawberry jars in a small cluster, or tie strawberry jars to your in-ground flower border by repeating the same varieties you used in the garden. If your jar will be on the porch or patio, choose a fragrant annual, such as sweet alyssum to add to your enjoyment.
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