Text By David Salman, Founder and Chief Horticulturist
Easy is good, especially when it comes to growing plants. I'm often asked when customers are buying a plant, "Is this one easy-to-grow?" Of course, the answer depends on your experience as a gardener and where the plant is going to be grown. Some places, like southern California, where the climate is mild and the soil rich, most plants are easy-to-grow. Taking that same plant and planting it into the difficult growing conditions I experience here in the windy, dry, hot and cold high desert of Santa Fe, the answer might be different.
But in general, I would define "easy-to-grow" plants as ones that are:
Forgiving as to their soil preference and do well in a wide range of soil types.
Don't get "crispy" when they dry out too much and bounce back quickly when watered.
Grow quickly and root out vigorously.
Are widely growable across a wide area of the country.
Have excellent cold hardiness and do well when transplanted in the fall.
Plant our drought resistant Jumbo Waterwise Pre-Panned Garden to grow more flowers and foliage while using less water. Perfect for hot, dry, sunny gardens, this eye-catching combination of long-blooming perennials will light up the landscape with bright, clear colors. Easy-care plants feature inedible foliage that keep rabbits and deer away. Large garden of 27 plants covers 190 sq ft, small garden of 18 plants covers 100 sq ft. (For gardeners in coastal CA, OR, and WA, plant the Jumbo Waterwise Pre-Planned Garden For The West Coast)
Plant our drought resistant Jumbo Waterwise Pre-Panned Garden For The West Coast to grow more flowers and foliage while using less water. Perfect for hot, dry, sunny gardens, this eye-catching combination of long-blooming perennials will light up the landscape with bright, clear colors. Easy-care plants feature inedible foliage that will keep rabbits and deer away. Garden of 18 plants covers 75 to 100 sq ft.
The August Afternoons Pre-Planned Garden brings together a wonderful assortment of our favorite perennials and ornamental grasses to keep things colorful through late summer and well into fall. Blooming in shades of blue, pink, and ivory, this gardens expertly blends color, texture, and fragrance for a waterwise garden. Hummingbirds and butterflies will be drawn to the beautiful nectar-rich plants. Garden of 17 plants covers 50 sq ft.
The flowers in the Summer Dreams Pre-Planned Garden are favorites of butterflies, honeybees, and gardeners alike. Designed with low-maintenance perennials, you can enjoy your garden’s fragrance and bright colors blooming from mid-summer to early fall. Watch pollinators dance from flower to flower in the summer sunlight. Garden of 11 plants covers 30 sq ft.
Gardening For Beginners: Steps For Transplant Success
There are a few steps that gardeners can take that will increase the ease with which a plant will grow. The first month in the ground is the most critical time to provide optimum care.
Use a root stimulator at least two or three times during the first month in the ground. I have had excellent success over the years using our High Country Gardens Root Stimulator Combo Pack (liquid seaweed and SuperThrive). When these two liquids are used together, there is a synergistic effect that encourages strong root growth.
Watch the watering, taking care not to over or under water your new transplant. Push back the mulch and check. If the top of the soil is still damp, wait a day; if the plant's foliage is off-green in color, or the soil surface is crusty, its dry and needs water.
Mulching the plant is key to maintaining optimum soil moisture, so I strongly encourage forming a nice wide saucer (slight depression surrounded with a ridge of soil) filled with a coarse-textured mulch material to hold irrigation water.
When watering, do it thoroughly by filling the saucer several times letting the water soak deeply into the planting hole. The warmer the day temperatures, the more often water will be needed. Perhaps every other day to start.
Spray all plants with a repellent (we recommend Deer Off), even deer and rabbit resistant ones, to protect from getting eaten.
Pink Flowered Jupiter's Beard (Centranthus ruber) is easy to grow and blooms all summer.
When planting into an established garden, be sure to mark where you plant your new transplants. I use some flagging tape on a stake. I lose most of my plants because I forget where I planted them!
The Philosophy of Successful Gardening
Of course what you can grow well might be a tough one for me and vice versa. It always surprises me how this works. I think it's mismatched energy between plant and person. But it can also be that my garden conditions and soil are different than yours.
Be a positive gardener, because no one really has a "black thumb." If you expect failure, it will most likely be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Pay attention and be mindful during your time in the garden. Sing or talk to your plants to focus your time with each plant (George Washington Carver did). Your plants will respond positively even if you're a little off key.