I tell everyone, I love planting things and love the look and how plants/flowers make me feel, but I can seriously kill a cactus.
Do you have a knack for killing houseplants? Does your lawn look like a post-apocalyptic dry zone complete with dead grass and holes where the flowers used to be? Maybe the green thumb gene passed you by, but that doesn’t mean that your life should be devoid of plant life. You deserve a little green this Spring! Skip the fussy orchids and keep it simple instead. Try incorporating the following “easy livin’” plants into your home and landscape this year.
- Spider – The spider plant usually hangs from the ceiling. It’s been a household favorite for decades and can thrive indoors or out (weather permitting). If you have a cat, keep this plant out of his or her reach as it’s toxic to felines. Hang in an area with some sunlight and water once a week.
- Aloe – The aloe plant loves sunlight and will do best in a windowsill. It doesn’t require much water or attention. Aloe is truly a “set it and forget it” plant. It will be there when you need it to treat minor burns. Some people even stir aloe vera gel into water or tea for a medicinal drink, claiming it is beneficial to the digestive system.
- Rubber Tree – The rubber tree is native to South America but does well as an indoor plant. In the wild and on farms, rubber trees can grow very large and provide sap for latex. At home, your rubber tree can be kept at a manageable size. The tree will only grow as big as its roots allow, so start with a young tree and move it into larger pots as it grows, stopping when your tree has reached the desired size. Rubber trees prefer indirect light and do best with a small amount of water. Sometimes misting them works better than pouring water directly into the soil.
- Boxwood – Boxwoods are a shrub and have grown popular in landscape planting. They do best in the northern half of the United States. You can purchase a semi-mature boxwood for under $30, making them affordable as well as resilient. Boxwoods only need a moderate amount of water and blend well with almost any landscaping theme. This plant does require a yearly pruning to retain its shape.
- Jonquil – The jonquil is a lovely perennial that grows from a bulb. It’s technically a type of daffodil and sprouts in early Spring. Proper planting is key, and after that, your jonquils will basically take care of themselves. Plant bulbs 10-12 inches deep and cover with fertile soil. The jonquils should come up every year after that. To ensure continued blooming, cut the stems down to one inch above the soil after the flowering season ends – usually early summer.
- Autumn Sage – Autumn sage sounds like an herb, but it’s actually an evergreen shrub. A member of the salvia family, autumn sage is drought-tolerant and a great choice for southern climates. It can grow to several feet tall and will flower during the milder months. Deadheading of flowers is recommended after they wilt.
- Garlic – Garlic is hard to kill, easy to grow, and tastes AMAZING from a garden! Plant your garlic in the Fall for harvest in late Spring. If you’re too late for garlic planting this year, take the opportunity to buy several varieties of garlic throughout the summer months so you can experiment to find out which is your favorite. When you’re ready to plant, crack your bulb of choice into individual cloves before you plant. They should sprout in mid-spring, but if a few green shoots show up early, don’t worry. Most gardeners just leave the early sprouts alone, and they still produce.
- Tomatoes – If you know when (or about when) the final frost of Spring is coming, tomatoes are a cinch. Count back a few weeks from the anticipated last frost and start your seedlings indoors. Once you’re ready to transplant, the tomato seedlings can go into a large pot or directly into the ground outside. With tomatoes, the important thing is to make sure that they get tons of water. Tomatoes may be the only edible where the water makes a bigger impact than the soil quality. Also, have some stakes or caging ready to support your tomato vines once they begin to mature. Tomatoes are dense and heavy and will lay on the ground when unsupported.
- Basil – Flat-leaf basil can be grown indoors or out. It can also start indoors like tomatoes and move outdoors when the weather agrees. If you have any feline companions, your basil will likely disappear once it produces, so find a safe location for your plant. Basil grows nicely next to tomato plants as the two seem to complement one another. Let your basil plant grow as large as you’d like and snip leaves and stems for cooking as needed. Basil plants can also be dried and crushed for use throughout the winter.