If you want to get into gardening, start small with a houseplant. That way you can get used to the requirements of your chosen plant such as water and sunlight. When you expand your collection, choose plants which are easy to look after and have similar requirements.
Once you've built your confidence, you can start looking after plants with different requirements or which are harder to manage. There is a fantastic online gardening community who can help answer your questions of each plant, such as light levels and moisture levels. Plus in Queenstown we have a wealth of information on when to plant you vegetables and seasonal gardening.
Get a feel of watering.
At Shotover Garden, our experts often get asked how often plants in pots should be watered. This is an impossible question to answer, as it changes for each plant, site and season! The easiest way to know is to poke your finger in the top inch of soil, if it is moist don’t water, if it’s dry then do.
When watering potted plants, keep going until water is running out of the holes in the pots. Pots really do need holes in the bottom, otherwise roots will rot and the plant will die. Plants should also not sit in water, so after watering any water that collects in saucers and pot covers should be poured away after 30 minutes.
It’s healthy if it’s growing
All plants have a maximum eventual size which you should find out before you purchase any plant. If your plant isn’t at that size it should be constantly reaching for that height, even if you’re cutting it back. When your plant isn’t growing through spring to autumn this is usually the first sign of deeper issues and plant stress. Insects can often tell a plant in stress and then move in. So what do you do if your plant isn’t growing? The best way is to consult an expert in your local garden centre as it can be very difficult to self diagnose.
Plant low maintenance
Gardens need to match your lifestyle, some plants do need time to keep them looking presentable. There’s no use filling your garden with hybrid tea roses if you don’t have time to follow a pruning schedule. Low maintenance plants require little if any time to keep them looking tidy, again you can find lists of low maintenance plants online.
Not only do you reduce methane emissions by composting, but you're also turning turn waste into something that is rather useful! It’s quite satisfying to see a collection of food waste turn into an unrecognisable mass of crumbly sweet-smelling dark matter. You literally can’t buy compost as good as you can make with your waste, as the processes that produce commercial compost kill all the beneficial organisms and lacks the variety of nutrients of home made compost.
When done correctly, a compost bin shouldn’t smell and can sit in the corner of the garden out of view. If you don’t have much room, bokashi bins are a fantastic alternative or accompaniment to a bin.
Mulching is a processing of putting a thick layer of material on top of the soil surface. You can use many materials for mulch from gravel to bark. Mulching will help suppress weeds and will regulate soil moisture levels which is incredibly beneficially with unpredictable weather. The best mulches for the majority of Queenstown gardens are bark or wood chip mulches. These mulches will break down over time improving the soil’s ability to hold water, nutrients and air which is necessary for healthy plants. The amount of time it will take for mulches to break down will depend on the size, depth and quality of the mulch.
Don’t be afraid to get advice
Like any subject it’s hard to know everything and confidence grows with time. Horticulture is an endless pit of learning and information when you get into it. When starting out, any experience and advice is beneficial so get talking to anyone who’s got a great looking garden, or better yet join a local gardening club. Visit Shotover Garden Centre and get chatting to the experts, who are all knowledgeable, experienced and passionate about gardening.