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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Houseplant Feeding Guidelines

Are you providing your houseplants with enough chemicals to grow, and grow well?

The gardenia is just one of several plants that needs acid fertilizer.

All plants need certain chemicals to grow well. Outdoors, they send out miles of roots when they can't find what they need nearby. Indoors, though, they don't have that option. So provide your houseplants with regular feedings of organic (natural) or inorganic (synthetic) fertilizers.

The three major nutrients that plants receive from fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (usually abbreviated as N, P, and K on packages). Nitrogen is important for good foliage, phosphorus helps roots grow, and potassium is vital for good blooming.

The percentages of the major nutrients contained in any given fertilizer are listed on the label. A 10-10-10 fertilizer is made up of 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus, and 10 percent potassium; the other 70 percent is either organic or inert material. The percentages of the individual chemicals vary considerably by the product, but they always are listed in the same order. The higher the number, the more chemical present.

Common organic fertilizers are blood meal, bonemeal, cow manure, fish emulsion, and kelp products. Chemical fertilizers are sold under a variety of product names. The chemical analysis varies by brand. Read labels carefully.

Some of these fertilizers are formulated with specific plants in mind. A few plants -- such as azalea (rhododendron), camellia, and gardenia -- need acid fertilizers, which keep the pH of the soil low. Other plants need varying amounts of specific chemicals, and the formulas for these plants reflects this.

You can apply fertilizers in a number of ways:

  • Mix them in a dry form into the soil either as a powder or in tiny time-release capsules.
  • Dilute the time-release capsules in water and pour them onto the soil at intervals.
  • Spray some forms (especially kelp) directly onto leaves.

Organic fertilizers work slowly. It takes time for them to break down in the soil and release nutrients. Some time-release chemical formulas also break down slowly, releasing nutrients over a long period of time. Most chemical fertilizers, however, work rapidly, giving plants a quick boost.

Before applying any fertilizer, thoroughly moisten the soil. Never use more than the recommended dose; too much fertilizer can burn roots and kill plants. In fact, it's generally better to use less than the recommended amount and apply the fertilizer more frequently. This is especially true for chemical fertilizers, which tend to be more caustic than organic ones.

The goal of fertilizing is to encourage regular -- not rampant -- growth during a plant's main growing season. Do not feed plants when they're dormant, usually in fall and winter, although some plants go dormant in spring and summer.
Click here for more houseplant care tips.

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