My mom is the plant whisperer. She can go to the grocery store, buy the wimpiest clearance hanging basket of flowers and within two weeks it’s luscious, green, and gorgeous. (Above is her backyard oasis at her condo.)
I did not inherit this talent from her, much to her chagrin. I will never have hanging baskets so full of flowers I can’t see out of my windows. I’ll never have so many sprouts shooting off of my houseplants I need to transplant them to more pots. And I’ll definitely never get the hang of finding the right spot to plant tulips outside. But, despite all my gardening shortcomings, I have found a few plants to keep alive, both inside and outside, and if I can do it, so can you!
Know What to Plant Where
Nothing’s quite as sad as buying a pot of flowers only to watch it wilt and die in the sun. You water it every other day, you rotate it, you talk to it, but nothing helps. Then you take a look at that little card in the pot that says, “Grows best in mostly shady areas.” Before dealing with the inconvenience or heartbreak of having plants putter out on you, take stock of how much sun your yard, window box, or side table gets before you choose which flowers you put there. There are flowers and foliage plants to thrive in every type of environment!
Every spring at the house I grew up in, daffodils and tulips shot out of the cold ground, Bradford pears and Rose-of-Sharons blossomed, and it looked like we had a budding nursery right outside our front porch. My mom never had to lift a finger because these were all perennials she had cultivated literally for years to bloom in the perfect spots every single year.
I don’t have years to get my flowers right. I’m impatient and I’m afraid they won’t grow back the next year no matter what I do. Instead, I garden with annuals. While I might be spending a little more to go to the garden center every May to buy a bunch of marigolds and petunias, I always know they’re going to bloom for just as long as I can remember to water them every other day (i.e., about five months before I give up). Less planning, more flowers!
When All Else Fails
Gardening definitely takes time and research, and a little bit of luck. I’ll never be the gardener my mom is, but I’ve picked up some tricks from her, and I’m happy with how my porch and yard look every year. If you’re reading this, though, and thinking, “I literally kill every living thing I’ve ever tried to grow,” I’ve got you covered. Even if you haven’t been able to so much as raise a basil plant from the grocery store, there is one plant you absolutely cannot mess up: the heartleaf philodendron. I promise you, you cannot kill this plant. I have one on my kitchen bar and one on a filing cabinet at work. The one in my kitchen I’ve had for ten years. I’ve forgotten to water this poor thing for weeks at a time, and it’s never died. It’s barely even looked parched. If you’re dying for some green in your home or office space but are afraid of taking care of it, get a heartleaf philodendron. You won’t be disappointed.