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So you’ve reached a point in life where you are ready to grow plants. Welcome to the club! And … forget what you heard. The biggest mistake newbies make is not over- or under-watering plants. It’s that they don’t think things through. 

To get the results you want, you need to know your lifestyle limitations and the plant’s needs. Around here, we don’t work hard; we work intelligently.

My friend Marissa is crazy for pesto and wants to grow basil. She has never grown a plant in her life and lives in an apartment with no windows, or even a balcony. Guess who’s not growing basil? But Marissa sure can grow a low-light, low-water interior plant like ZZ (zamioculcas zamiifolia). She should place it in a small corner in, or near, the bathroom. Why? Marissa’s also short on time. We all “gotta go” sometime, however, and  who can ignore a plant staring them down morning and evening?

Another friend, Nandi, loves flowering plants, but doesn’t know the difference between an annual, perennial or bulb. Where does she start? By learning the language. Put down that phone and take a research trip to a nursery. There, you can physically see and learn the differences. Nandi can start with bulbs, because they will grow with little effort. She can get the flowers she wants at first and then graduate to growing the garden she desires. 

Don’t have time to visit a nursery or read garden books? Learn by listening. There are several podcasts to walk you through everything you need to know. “The Joe Gardener Show” with hometown hero Joe Lamp’l is a great one. As is “The RHS Gardening Podcast.” It’s British, and those Brits stay knowing when it comes to plants. YouTube is great too, so get into it. By working intelligently, we become successful. If you build confidence first, there is nothing you can’t grow.

Abra Lee is a horticulturist extraordinaire and unapologetically passionate about all things gardening. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @conquerthesoil.

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