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

Summer is a gardener¿s busiest season. If you¿re short on time or not sure what to do, follow this easy summer gardening checklist to keep your lawn and garden in great shape all season long.

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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

Drought! The word itself strikes fear into the hearts of gardeners everywhere. Scarce water resources, especially in hard hit areas such as California and Texas, are making it almost impossible to maintain traditional style lawns. That's why many people are replacing their lawns with groundcovers and native plants. But for those who want a lush green lawn, here are some less-thirsty options.

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How to Improve Garden Soil

Many homeowners inherit bad garden soil ¿ but you don¿t have to live with it! Learn how to get the best garden soil possible through amendments, composting, and more.

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Top Shade Perennials

Shade plants are perfect for those tough spots in your yard. Learn about the best shade-loving perennials, including flowering shade perennials, partial shade perennials, and full-shade perennials.

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Landscape Ideas

Landscape ideas provide inspiration, and studies show that upgrading your landscape will add value to your home. Here are some great landscape ideas to improve your home's outward appeal.

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The Best of Phlox

Brilliantly colored phlox brightens up the home and garden. Here are some hardy varieties and growing tips.

Add splashes of color to your home and garden with phlox.

Summer phlox is a widely adapted perennial, hardy from Minneapolis to the Gulf Coast. If you've grown phlox before, however, you know that its nemesis is powdery mildew, a fungus that leaves the plants looking bare-legged and bedraggled. Certain phlox varieties are more resistant to the disease than others, and a few years ago we set out to find them. We asked phlox experts and ordinary gardeners from across the country to recommend their favorites.

Phlox adds loads of color to perennial borders at an otherwise lean time of year. It may not be the easiest perennial to grow, but it's among the most gratifying.

Phlox lifts your garden out of the summer doldrums on a wave of jewel-box colors and soft perfume. Any phlox is beautiful, but the varieties that follow are also long-blooming and healthy. Clearly, they're the best.

Snip a few stems of phlox, plunk them in an upright vase, and you have a bouquet more bountiful than anything from a florist's shop. Now bury your nose in the blossoms for a whiff of heaven.

Even the mildew-resistant varieties of phlox aren't mildew-proof. Take these steps to keep your phlox healthy:

Franz Schubert
  • Plant phlox in full sun in rich, porous soil. Plant in spring or fall.
  • Feed regularly. Give new plants or divisions a generous helping of compost stirred around in the planting hole. Use a balanced fertilizer annually thereafter.
  • Keep the soil moist and cool with a layer of organic mulch. When watering, avoid wetting the foliage -- a practice that spreads disease.
  • Divide clumps every three to four years. In spring, thin clumps to no more than eight stems. Overcrowded stands of phlox are mildew-prone.
  • In late fall, after the plants have succumbed to frost, cut the stems to the ground and discard them -- but not on your compost pile. Mildew spores overwinter in the dead stems and foliage.
  • If mildew appears despite your taking all the precautions, treat it with a horticultural oil spray -- a low-toxicity alternative to traditional fungicides.

Natascha's pink-and-white pinwheels spin from June until fall.

Miss Lingard bears slender flower heads of the crispest white.

Katherine radiates soft color from the centers of large florets.

Laura takes the prize as the longest-blooming phlox in our Test Garden.

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