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Confused First Time Gardner


So I have spent the weekend googling a million questions I have and am really struggling to get clear straight forward answers and was wondering if anyone could help!

I have a small rented yard so can only have potted plants and flowers,

Some things I would like to understand?

1: What are the advantages/disadvantages of starting with seeds compared to starting with Nursery/Garden centre bought plants? Every time I read a blog about starting a flower garden it's starts with seeds, but I have bought the plants straight out... Is this bad?

2: I assumed all flower plants would eventually wilt and look dead for a while before springing back to life with the right care through the year but my friend told me some flower plants just flower once and they're done and then you need to replace them. How do you tell the difference? In the garden centre there certainly wasn't any obvious distinction between plants ... How do I know when buying what plants will flower again next year and what won't?

3: I am so confused on pot sizes. I bought a gazania in its small black plastic pot the other day .... but how do you now how big a pot you need to repot it into? Most of the pots in the garden centre were around the same size as the plastic black pot, so do you even need to re pot it?

I think I will leave it as three questions for now but I feel I could go on and on and on! Any help would be great, thank you!! x

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Confused First Time Gardner

Hi and welcome to the Forum! You got good answers from MG.

Mid-July isn't the easiest time to start gardening. So yes, I would just start by buying some plants from a good nursery (NOT your local big box store, where things may have received very poor care for the months they have been sitting there and the staff does not necessarily know anything about plants). Don't go over board, because transplanting things in the middle of summer heat is difficult and they may not all make it. Keep them well watered and in a semi-shady place at first, and gradually move them to full sun (if they are sun lovers). Along with annual and perennial, you need to know the sun/shade and watering requirements of your new plants. A good nursery should be able to tell you that.

Feel free to post more questions as you go along and let us know how you are progressing. But if you do, please change your profile to show where you are located. There are hardly any garden issues that can be discussed without regard to location/ climate/ weather conditions.

Susan W
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Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:46 pm
Location: Memphis, TN

Re: Confused First Time Gardner

Kate, Welcome!
It is easy to be overwhelmed, so best to break things down to workable steps. 1st we need to know where you are, which is key to temps and seasons. Next where are the pots? Deck? sun? shade? part?
You mentioned bloom once and wither. Yes, sorta with annuals. But, the key to many annuals is they bloom all season. Think about zinnias, marigolds, some salvias, petunias and more.

I suggest that you get a few easy annuals, pot up, 10" min diameter. The larger the pot, the better it tempers temperature and moisture. Some plants can be combined for a pretty flowery show.
Start with starts or seeds? For a few plants for pretty, I suggest buying some starts. Next season you could try a few easies from seed including zinnia, marigolds.

Hope this helps

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 12:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Confused First Time Gardner

Hi Kate, warm welcome to the forum.

Read up on the difference between annuals and perennials. Annuals are plants that grow, bloom then go to seed and die in one season. The produce lots of blooms in a flush. Perennials will bloom less profusely over a longer period of time and the plants will come back the following year.

Seed versus starts. As a novice use starts. Purchase from a reputable nursery. The advantage of dealing with a local nursery is that they can make plant recommendations that are suitable for your region. They can also help you with light and water requirements.

Your region is very important.

Example: Impatiens (Dizzy Lizzies in the UK) Generally considered an annual. In my travels I have seen Impatiens successfully grown in full shade, part sun and full sun. The growing conditions depend on the region. In south Louisiana Impatiens are considered a tender perennial. They are grown in full shade. They are self seeding and if the parent plant is mulched over winter most will grow again the next year. Our winters are very mild.

The forum has a section on container gardening that you may want to explore.

Yes pot up your new plants. The starter pots are not intended to be a permanent home. Select pots with good drainage - no pot saucers. Be careful with the very pretty glazed pots. Not all of them have adequate drainage.

Consider companion planting using very large pots planted with both annuals and perennials. Look at color and growth habit. Use an upright plant in the center or back then plant mounding plants and around the rim include cascading plants. Oh - read the tags, or ask the nursery associate about mature size. That will be your guide for pot size.

IDK about in the UK but in the US plants have tags labeling them as annual or perennial as well as information on light and water requirements and mature size.

Good luck.

Stay in touch.

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Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2015 3:48 pm
Location: Canada, Quebec, Zone 4b

Re: Confused First Time Gardner

Hello there and good luck with your first gardening. It becomes addicting :P

Here would be my answers to your questions. I didn't read the other answers so I would not be influenced hehe

1 : I prefer to start my plants from seeds because I can enjoy a much bigger variety and because I love to look everyday at my containers and see what germinates, what's harder, how to do better, and more. Also, it's cheaper to buy a $2 seed package which you can often use for 2-3 years. A grown plant is much more expensive.
The disadvantage of starting from seeds would be that it's more work and your seeds may not last more than a couple years. If you have leftovers, they may not germinate after that so you have to verify if they are still good. If you forget, like I always do, you may plant seeds that won't germinate and, when you realize nothing happens, you'll have to get back to the store to buy new seeds and start over. In a situation like that, your plants are late, but is not the end of the world though, I can tell you. I live in a zone 4 and I'm always late on everything because I always forget stuff. I still get a lot of veggies. A couple weeks of good temperature and it's awesome how outdoor plants will grow fast.

On the other side, the advantage I could see for you to buy plants is that they are already big, so you have less to worry about and you may get veggies sooner.
The disadvantages is that it's more expensive and you may have some insects or diseases on them. You don't see them when you buy them but they may appear later because some plant had it in the nursery and passed it to the others.

2 : I always do a little research before I buy a new plant. There are many websites that can help you with your choice when you hesitate. For example, they will ask you the color you like, the season of flowering, the water/sun needs, the lifespan, and more. Also, even if annual flowers don't come back the next year, they drop seeds that may germinate the next year. They may not be at the exact same location than the previous year but it's always fun to see what you get back from last summer :) Perennials last longer but they don't last forever (from a few to many years, that really depends on which one you pick). If you buy the plants from seeds/bulbs, indications will be on the package. If you buy the plant, I think they indicate it too buy sometimes there's not a lot of info. Also, I suggest you to really do a little research on the plants you want because some sellers will indicate a zone or a lifespan and it may not be accurate.

If you'd like, I could suggest you a couple plants that are not hard to grow. I have a lot less experience with flowers than I have with the garden and I still managed to have a good success with some varieties. Just let me know if you'd like ideas!!

3 : Different plants are meant for different container sizes. If you buy from seeds, the package will sometimes indicate what container size you need, especially if it's a plant made for container gardening. Otherwise, I am not very good at the repotting topic, so I'll pass this one :)

I hope I could help you with my answers and cya around!

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