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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Top Florida Plants

Whether you're a Florida native or a new resident, finding the best plants to grow in your yard can be a pleasure in this subtropical state.

Growing conditions can vary greatly depending on your elevation, your location inland or near the coast, and in which of the three sections -- northern, central, or southern Florida -- you live. These plants grow well in all parts of Florida, Zones 8-10.

Bulb Selections for Florida

Many bulbs, rhizomes, tubers, and corms grow well in Florida. Gardeners expecting to grow tulips, hyacinths, and some types of irises or lilies will be disappointed, as these bulbs need a cold dormant period. Luckily, Floridians in all areas of the state can enjoy many beautiful bulbous plants year-round that Northerners can only grow during the summer months.

African Lily (Agapanthus africanus) grows strappy green leaves and stately stalks with clusters of blue or white flowers rising up to 3 feet tall. Plant it from October to February, placing the tip of the rhizome just below the surface in full sun to partial shade. Keep it evenly moist during the growing season.

Learn more about agapanthus.

Caladiums' (Caladium selections) dramatic, heart-shape leaves lend a tropical flair to landscapes and containers. Place them in full sun to partial shade. Plant the tubers 2 inches deep from February to May. Search for selections in varying patterns with white, pink, red, or burgundy.

Learn more about caladium.

Cannas (Canna selections), old-fashioned favorites that add height (up to 8 feet) to landscape plantings or containers, are easy to grow, and thrive in heat. Frost can kill cannas to the ground, but in Florida, unlike in Northern climates, the rhizomes will rally to produce more plants. Keep the soil evenly moist and grow in full sun to partial shade.

Learn more about canna.

Other tubers, bulbs, and rhizomes that grow in all areas of Florida include Amaryllis, Aztec lily (Sprekelia formosissima), blood lily (Haemanthus multiflorus), crinum (Crinum selections), dahlia (Dahlia selections), elephant's ear (Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma spp.), gladiolus (Gladiolus selections), kaffir lily (Clivia miniata), walking iris (Neomarica gracilis), peacock iris (Moraea selections), spider lily (Hymenocallis spp.), watsonia (Watsonia selections), and rain lily (Zephyranthes spp.)

Learn more about crinum.

Learn more about dahlia.

Learn more about elephant's ear.

Learn more about gladiolus.

Learn more about rain lily.

Trees and Shrubs for Florida Gardens

Pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana) adds landscape interest with its gray-green leaves and waxy, pink-and-white flowers, and produces an egg-size, edible fruit that tastes like a guava. Grow this small tree, which reaches 8-12 feet tall and wide, in full sun. It is easy to grow, tolerates seacoast salt exposure, and stays evergreen.

Many types of palm trees grow well in Florida, including the saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). This native palm tree, when selected in its silver form, can light up a landscape with cool, silvery-blue fronds. At 6 feet tall and wide, this slow-growing, cold-hardy tree can fit into most landscapes, including salty coastal areas. Grow it in full sun to partial shade.

Firebush (Hamelia patens) draws the eye with its orange-red tubular flowers. It's also a hummingbird and butterfly magnet. A Florida native, this evergreen shrub can reach 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide, but a compact variety can be chosen. The leaves are reddish during much of the year, then fade to green. Its small, juicy berries are green, then turn yellow, red, and finally black. Grow firebush in full sun to partial shade. Once established, it is drought-tolerant.

Other small native Florida trees and shrubs worth investigating include Yucca smalliana, coontie (Zamia floridana), gallberry (Ilex glabra), gopher apple (Licania michauxii), and Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia).

Florida Perennials

Many types of annuals and perennials grow well in Florida, but their performance may not be consistent throughout the year, thanks to temperature fluctuations during both day- and nighttime. When temperatures are too low, many tropical plants won't grow well, and when temperatures are too high, some will fail.

Here are two tough perennials that flourish in all parts of Florida:

Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) is among the many perennial ferns that grow well in Florida. Also called Japanese shield fern, its upright foliage reaches about 2 feet tall and wide. Its foliage is a bronze-copper color in spring when the plant is young, then matures to a dark green. Ferns are critter-resistant, and grow best in shade. For best results, keep the soil evenly moist.

Zeezee plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is best known as a houseplant in the north, but can be grown as a tropical perennial in Florida. Its virtues abound: It grows slowly, attracts almost no pests, tolerates low-light conditions, and needs little water. The stalks of glossy leaves can reach 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Beware: All parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten.


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