If you’re interested in gardening, you’ll know that success or failure depends on a number of different factors – not all of them within your control. You cannot grow every possible type of plant in your garden, but by choosing plants carefully and managing conditions as best you can, you can ensure you have the best possible chance of success. So what factors affect plant growth?
One of the basic requirements for all plants is light. As a gardener, there are two sides to this. One is seasonal and the other relates to the location of plants.
It is very difficult to grow plants in winter without an artificial source of UV light simply because there are not enough hours of daylight. We tend to think of light in terms of direct rays of sun, but that is just one aspect. Over the course of a cloudy summer’s day, a plant will be exposed to far more light than on even the sunniest winter day, simply because daylight hours are longer and because the sun is higher.
Direct light does matter, however. Some plants will tolerate it, while others prefer the softer light of a shaded spot. You need to put the right plant in the right spot in order for it to grow.
Plants need water. Some, like cacti, are more drought tolerant, while others thrive in almost boggy conditions. Again, choosing the right plant for the right spot is vitally important if you want to have growing success. Don’t overlook the fact that what might be a reasonable spot in spring or autumn could prove arid and dry in summer or waterlogged in winter. Also pay attention to pot plants which dry out much quicker.
Depending on where a plant originates, it will be suited to a particular type of soil. Sandy soils are fast draining and allow for extensive root growth, while clay soils are much richer, albeit with the potential for waterlogging or being baked dry.
Different soils have different nutrients in them as well. For the most part, as a gardener, your soil can be improved through the addition of compost – rotted down biological matter. This helps bind sandy soils together better so that they retain moisture for longer and also breaks up clay soils a little so that it is easier for roots to expand.
Know your growing conditions and you will have much greater success when growing plants.
Betsy Hastings spends most of her free time in the garden at home and when in doubt on what are the best plants to buy she consults soilonline.co.uk for new options, ideas and information.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronsaunders47/363317518/