50January 23, 2020

During January and February, none of us is doing any outdoor gardening. It’s kind of hard to dig a hole when the ground is frozen and covered with snow. With all of that being said, how does your garden grow?

In a perfect world, gardening would be a carefree pastime with no problems ever cropping up. But if you have been gardening for a while, you know that there will be things that just don’t grow where and how you want them to grow. Over the next few weeks, it is time for some Gardening 101 review.

Probably one of the hardest things for novice gardeners to understand is why some plants aren’t doing well in their gardens. Many of you know that I owned my own garden center for 37 years. People would often come into the store with questions about why a certain plant would not grow in their garden.

One of the first questions I would ask would be about the light exposure. Does the area get sun all day? Does the area get sun in only the morning or only in the afternoon? Does the area never get sun? Of course, the amount of sunlight a plant needs will influence where that plant should be planted. It may seem fairly obvious but how often do you look at a plant in a store and then look at the plant tag to see what the plant requires in order for that plant to grow properly?

Over the years, I have often cringed when people would bring a plant into the store and tell me ? I don’t know if I have a good growing spot for this plant but I absolutely have to have it! In my heart of hearts, I know that the plant has less than a 50/50 chance of making it in their garden.

The funny thing is that it is a rarity for most gardeners to know the sun exposure for all the areas in their yard. If you try to put a plant that needs sun in an area that is shaded all day, you just threw a bunch of money out the window. Of course a plant tag that says full sun or partial shade, or partial sun is confusion in nomenclature. It’s no wonder that people put plants in the wrong spot. So let’s figure out what those terms mean.

Generally speaking, if a plant tag says full sun, it generally means at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunshine. If you get more than that, that’s fine. If the tag says partial sun, it generally means that you could have shade in the morning but sun in the afternoon. If the tag says partial shade, it generally means that the plant would prefer to not get the afternoon sun. If the tag says shade, it generally means that the plant does not want to be in the sun. Some early morning sun would not be a problem for most plants, but the afternoon sun is definitely out.

This brings up the issue of why not afternoon sun. The afternoon sun is the brightest sun and in the summer months it can be even more intense. Plants that want shade can dry out quickly in that intense afternoon sun and there is the potential for the leaves to be severely damaged by the afternoon sun.

Sun exposure is probably one of the most important aspects of where you should be placing a plant. However, it isn’t the only thing that you need to be considering. Want to know what else you need to be considering? More on that in the next few weeks.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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