So you want to start your first garden. Right off the bat, you’ll be given the sage advice to research and plot your garden before you plant. But what if you don’t know anything about plants?
That’s the dilemma I find myself facing when attempting to garden for the first time. I know that plants are green, and I know they grow from the ground, but that’s about all I took away from science class. For someone like me, I need even the simplest beginner gardening plant guide broken down into layman’s terms.
Thankfully, our gardening experts were happy to “dig” up the information for me. Here are the 10 easiest plants for beginner gardeners to grow without screwing it up:
Not only is basil delicious, but it is a remarkably robust plant that just won’t stop growing. Susan Brandt of Blooming Secrets considers basil one of the best herbs for beginner gardeners, along with other favorites like mint. She says, “Herbs are very versatile and are suitable for containers, which can be a flower pot, an old watering can or basically anything that has holes in the bottom and that you can put soil in or in flower beds. They also can be grown inside, as well as outside.”
2. Cherry tomatoes
The biggest benefit to starting with cherry tomatoes in your garden is that they grow so darn quick. (Impatient gardeners, holler if you hear me!) Sophie Uliano, certified holistic nutritionist and green living expert, recommends starting in the spring. According to Uliano, cherry tomatoes pair well with herbs and greens in a garden so that you can take an entire meal from seed to plate.
Looking for year-round greenery in your newbie garden? Tina Sottolano-Cain, professional horticulturalist and creator of Gardens on the Go, tells SheKnows that hostas are your best bet, “[They] are very low maintenance and love full shade. The large heart-shaped leaves resist most diseases and pests and hold their beauty all season long.”
Chez Brungraber, owner of Gobi Gear, botanist and landscape designer living in Bend, Oregon, explains that while some plants fare better in certain regions, hydrangeas are the type of flower that grow well almost anywhere. She elaborates, “Color [is] based on pH of soil (except in a few new breeds), and they are easy to grow and come in many local varieties.”
5. Knockout rose
Image: Ron Brickman, Flickr
I’m just going to say what everyone is thinking — roses are intimidating. With all the talk of “prize roses” in gardening communities, it’s no wonder that mere mortals shy away from these beautiful flowers. Sottolano-Cain insists that roses and beginner gardeners can coexist, saying, “Knockout roses are the easiest roses to grow and don’t require special care, unlike hybrid tea and floribunda roses. They have a continuous bloom cycle of every 5-6 weeks on average and are self-cleaning, meaning no deadheading required.”
According to Carmen Johnston of Carmen Johnston Gardens, mint is the type of plant that practically grows itself. Call me crazy, but a “self-growing” plant sounds like the perfect choice for a beginner gardener. Johnston explains, “This is a plant that enjoys both the shade and the sun. You can also plant mint next to your air conditioning unit for some much appreciated condensation.”
Maybe you’re a gardener who has more of a brown thumb than a green thumb. If that describes your plant-killing penchant, then portulaca is the flower for you. Johnston says, “Don’t let the petite blooms fool you — this plant is almost indestructible! Like the angelina sedum, the portulaca is a spring and summer plant that loves soaking up the sun’s full rays.”
Rosemary is yet another all-star herb that often makes the “best of” lists for beginner gardeners. April Garbat, communications manager at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, says that though rosemary is from the Mediterranean, it grows surprisingly well in California and much of the U.S. “It can grow in a pot in colder climates, where it may need to come indoors for the winter, but looks great in a pot even where it can stay outdoors. Easy to prune or leave in a natural state. Some grow upright, some cascade beautifully over a pot or over a wall; smells great. Edible, great for cooking or making bath salts. Great for attracting pollinators to pollinate the rest of your garden. And it’s drought-tolerant too.”
You may have heard the word that succulents are the perfect plant for new gardeners. Brandt says that the rumors are true: Succulents may just be the easiest plant to grow in the world. Brandt tells SheKnows, “Some succulents are virtually indestructible and their undemanding nature makes them an ideal plant for many tough growing situations. Their versatility also allows them to thrive both outdoors and, yes, even indoors. If you are new to gardening or just want to try growing something new, succulents could be the plants for you.”
10. Summer squash
Image: Patrice Beaulieu 12, Flickr
Summer squash never fail to rank among the most popular garden “edibles” for rookies. Lisa Hennessey, owner and creator of Your Pet Chef and master gardener in Illinois, explains why, “It’s very hardy, grows very quickly, is pretty disease and insect resistant and requires little maintenance (except regular watering). It produces squash that are great for all members in the household — both two-legged and four-legged!”
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