Dig Baton Rouge

Get a Green Thumb: Simple gardening tips for small spaces

Gardening is a fun and therapeutic way to liven up your indoors and outdoors, but it’s disheartening when you manage to kill every plant that you’ve ever owned. But don’t worry—after reading this, you’ll be equipped with a solid foundation of general indoor/outdoor plant knowledge and you may even grow that green thumb you’ve always wanted.

THE BASICS
Kat Daigrepont, foliage manager at Louisiana Nursery, says you should make sure you get the right sized pots with good, well-draining soil and be mindful of how much sun exposure your plants need. When purchasing fertilizer, opt for liquid or slow releasing granular, and always read the label carefully for instructions so you don’t over or underfeed your plants. Check out your local nursery for organic soil and fertilizer, or make your own with kitchen scraps, eggshells and coffee grinds.

SUCCLENTS AND CACTI
Indoor/Outdoor
Succulents and cacti are not only known for the unique, alluring touch they add to your decor—they’re also fairly low-maintenance plants. Daigrepont chatted with us about how to keep this little guys surviving and thriving.

“If you’re keeping them indoors, make sure they get plenty of sunlight and only water when the soil is dry,” Daigrepont says. However if they’re living outside, move them under a covered space during heavy rains to avoid over-watering (which sometimes leads to rotted roots or even mold).

Did you know succulents have the power of propagation? No, this doesn’t mean they’re magical—it means you can snap off one of their leaves and regrow an entirely new plant! Make sure the break is clean and just set on top of soil, keep moist (use a misting bottle) and watch the little roots grow. After a few weeks, stick the roots in the soil and you’ll have a new plant in no time.

FLOWERS
Outdoor
For those who aren’t homeowners, outdoor gardening means you’re pretty limited, but it’s not impossible. Container gardening is an excellent option for those who live in apartments or find themselves frequently moving. To liven up your balcony, try planting drought-resistant purslane in a pot and give it 6-8 hours of sun each day.

Hanging flower baskets are also a great option, and most of the time you can purchase them already planted. Your only job is to water and keep the soil fertilized, Daigrepont says. Vincas come in a variety colors and do well in full sun, plus they’re relatively low maintenance (just don’t over-water!).

CITRUS TREES
Outdoor
Citrus trees love the outdoors and full sun, says Daigrepont. Fertilizing these guys is a bit trickier, and should only be done during late winter, early spring and around the Fourth of July. It’s important not to fertilize them when they’re bearing fruit. Be sure to purchase a dwarf variety of citrus tree, which is very happy living in a pot without being transplanted in the ground.

HERBS
Indoor/Outdoor
Herbs are a great way to improve your culinary skills and work on your green thumb. Herbs do well on a sunny windowsill and even outdoors. Daigrepont says the best herbs to plant right now are basil, oregano thyme, rosemary, curry, mint, sage, parsley and cilantro.

“You can plant up to five herbs in a 12” pot, but avoid planting mint in the same pot because it tends to take over and crowd the roots of the other plants. Additionally, rosemary should be planted on its own because it prefers drier soil conditions,” Daigrepont says.

INDOOR PLANTS
If you live in an apartment with little to no outdoor space for plants, there are a variety of indoor tree and plant options for you. “Consider ficus trees for an indoor plant option that is also relatively low maintenance,” Daigrepont says. Place an Edward Scissorhands Sanseveria anywhere in your home and he will be happy because not only are they striking, they’re nearly impossible to kill.

The fiddle leaf fig tree is very popular for its broad, green leaves, which add an excellent touch to living room areas. Daigrepont says the tree should be left near a window with filtered light and watered a bit less frequently, and only when the soil is dry, which may change depending on how often you run your air conditioner and other variables.

Photos by Amber Law.

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