Beginner’s Checklist for Gardeners and Houseplant Owners

OFrom looking out to nature and being surrounded by the natural world, “it’s in our DNA to feel better when we’re around plants,” says gardening expert Clive Harris, creator of the DIY Garden sustainability blog, which shares its gardening checklist below. Not only do plants make us happy, but they also reduce stress levels. The simple act of smelling and touching a few houseplants can have positive effects on our health and well-being and lead to lower levels of stress and anxiety, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Anthropology. “Plant soil is also a great way to boost your mental health, because there’s a bacteria in the soil called M. Vaccae, which boosts our happiness hormone, serotonin, the same way antidepressants do,” adds Harris.

With so many benefits, it’s no wonder people are taking up gardening, as well as buying indoor plants, to connect with nature from the comfort of their homes. “The indoor plant market has doubled over the past few years as people realize how wonderful they look in an apartment or on a balcony,” Harris says.

When you’re just getting started, it’s natural to want expert advice on how to grow your garden.

Here’s a gardening checklist for beginner green thumbs

1. Do a little research on your plants

Different plant species require different care approaches. “For example, a cactus is very different from a peace lily, and snake plants are different from ivies, so do your research beforehand to make sure you know you’re giving your plants the good care they need. “, says Harris.

2. Plant according to sun and shade needs

According to Harris, placing plants in the wrong place is the biggest mistake people make in the garden. “It’s important to choose ‘the right plant for the right place’.” That means shade-loving plants get shade and sun-loving plants get sun,” he says. Ferns and hydrangeas love shade, for example, while roses and lavender love sun. Plant them in the right place and they will thrive. This is information you should be able to find in your research, or on your plant’s label or seed packet. Alternatively, ask a nursery or garden associate where you will be picking your plants.

For indoor plants, Harris recommends keeping them away from heat sources. “Choose light, airy locations away from radiators and full sun for plants with glossy foliage,” he says.

3. Regularly check for pests

In particular, aphids, slugs and snails can damage your outdoor plants. “Aphids usually attack new growth, so look there first, and if you see them, act immediately,” he says. “Use soapy dishwater and rubber gloves to scrub the aphids off the stems,” he says. Slugs and snails can be kept at bay with copper tape, eggshells and sheep’s wool. “Houseplants are also parasitized, mealybugs being common, so use neem oil or rubbing alcohol to kill them and then repot to make sure any eggs are destroyed as well,” he says. he. Warning: you may have to do this several times.

4. Give them a good bath if needed

How often you need to water your plants will depend on the type. But all plants respond well to a long water bath when they begin to dry out. There are very few that benefit from daily watering or a drip here or there.

With outdoor plants, it is important not to underestimate the water needs of potted pots. “It’s not just the sun that dries them out, but also the wind, and containers need at least a weekly watering during the growing months and most likely weekly feeding as well,” he says. In very hot weather, hanging baskets and plants like tomatoes may need a daily supply and replenishment of water.

Indoor plants need a little more care when it comes to watering. “Only water your plant when the topsoil is dry, because daily watering will drown and rot the roots,” says Harris. “Check weekly, wait if the soil is still wet and write down: you should never leave your plant in a container of water, soak it in the sink, let it drain, then put it back in its decorative pot.

5. Transform your houseplants weekly

“Rotate potted houseplants a quarter turn each week so each side gets the same amount of sun and grows evenly,” says Harris. All plants will stretch for light, and so by turning them frequently, your plants will end up straight.

6. Follow feeding protocols accordingly

“A strong plant food that is given to plants too often will kill any plant, or their leaves will turn yellow and they will crumble,” says Harris. So read fertilizer instructions and plant labels before feeding your plants and be sure to follow their advice.

7. Repot plants if necessary

If you do a good job, your plants in containers will outgrow their homes. This means you will need to repot when you start to see roots start to appear. “Root-bound plants struggle to take up water and nutrients and start to fail, and this is where you’ll need to move up to the next size pot when roots show up in drainage holes or the plant bursts open. at its seams,” says Harris.

8. Prune at the right time

While doing your research, if you’re going for flowing plants, make sure you understand how they prefer to be pruned once they flower. “Some plants only flower on old wood, so if you cut everything in the fall, you won’t have any flowers next year,” says Harris.

Essential tools for beginner gardeners

hand trowel

“A hand trowel is a small shovel used to dig container soil and shallow edging,” Harris explains. You can use it to make a planting hole by sticking it in the ground and pulling it towards you, like rowing a boat. They are versatile garden tools and according to Harris, the number one essential.


“It’s best used to weed and loosen the soil before using a towel to plant,” Harris says. Small hand forks are particularly useful when you need to weed around plants that are close together without disturbing the roots.

border spade

A full-size spade is an essential tool for gardens that have large borders. It is used for turning the ground or making large straight holes. “Use your foot to drive the spade into the ground and your arms to turn the soil over,” Harris explains. Be sure to wear sturdy, closed shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.

border fork

Similar to a full-size spade, the edging fork differs in that it is serrated and breaks the soil into pieces, without you having to lift as much weight off the ground in doing so. “If you’re digging a border, use a garden fork to break up the soil before switching to your spade to make a planting hole,” says Harris. Simply press down on the fork head with your foot and pull the fork back to turn the soil.


The gloves protect your hands from abrasion and dirt. “Choose heavy leather gloves if you’re pruning or cutting brambles and nettles and lightweight gloves if you’re just weeding or planting,” says Harris.

watering can

All plants need water! A watering can should be easy to lift, so don’t buy the biggest one you can find. “Choose one with snug ‘rows’ that evenly water the soil,” says Harris. “A large splash of water without rows disturbs the soil structure and washes away the small plants,” he explains.


Secateurs are sturdy garden scissors and are needed for pruning shrubs and other cutting jobs. They have large, comfortable handles and safety blades that lock into place when not in use. “Choose bypass-motion pruners because they cause less damage to live branches than anvil types,” suggests Harris.


Fertilizer, mulch or any kind of plant fertilizer is important to take the best care of your garden and plants and provide them with high quality nutrition. “Increase their nutrient uptake with chicken manure, horse manure, or liquid seaweed/tomato food, especially if you have potted plants, which are limited to what’s in the pot,” he said.

Essential tools for houseplant owners

decorative jar

Houseplants usually arrive in thin plastic pots that have drainage holes in the base, and you’ll want to keep the pots rather than remove them. “You should always keep your plant in one so you can water and drain it effectively,” he says. Then choose a decorative pot without drainage holes and place the plastic pot inside for display.

Fogger or sprayer

“Many plants with leafy green foliage love misting because it mimics their natural environment, such as the floor of the Amazon rainforest, so save an old bottle of kitchen cleaner or buy a houseplant sprayer to get rid of dust and dust. increase humidity around foliage plants,” he says. This will help them shine.

Large drainage and compost pots

Every year or so, houseplants should be transplanted into a larger pot with new, fresh compost. “Always use good quality, free-draining compost because garden soil is just asking for trouble, as it’s heavy, rough and introduces pests,” he says.

vegetable food

“Check the label, but chances are your houseplant will need very little fertilizer once a month, with cacti, succulents, and orchids being exceptions, requiring even less,” Harris says. Houseplants need regular food because they quickly deplete available nutrients in the pot, and Harris says liquid plant food is the best option here. It’s an easy way to restore the nutrients houseplants need to stay healthy.

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