Whether you're an experienced gardener or a rank beginner, the basics of gardening are the same. Plants have simple needs: light, air, good soil and water. To grow a plant successfully, you must balance these resources carefully. The best way to do that is to create a controlled environment that you can adjust to keep your plant happy and help it grow tall. Luckily, you can create that environment with just a few materials.
Start with a proper pot or seed tray. Choose a size that fits your plant. If you are starting from a seed, choose a small pot and transplant your plant later into a larger pot. Plants grow large root systems underground, so your container should be much larger than the base of the plant. Choose a container that is wider than the outer leaves of your plant. Drainage holes in the bottom of the container are important because they allow excess water to flow out of the soil.
Good-quality soil is high in nutrients that plants require. Rather than use the dirt from your yard, which might be nutrient-poor and contain weed seeds, buy a potting soil mix, available at any garden center. There are a number of types of soil, all designed for different types of plants, but as a general rule the basic soil will do.
Watering is the most important, and the most dangerous, part of plant care. Plants need water to grow, but too much water can drown them. When plants are in seed or seedling stage, check daily to be sure the soil doesn't dry out. Add enough water that the soil is damp, but not soggy. When plants are older, water them when the soil feels dry to the touch. When soil is dry, add enough water that it begins draining out of the bottom. This fills the pot with enough water to last at least a few days.
Typically, gardeners recommend fertilizing plants once they begin to grow rapidly. Some plants require frequent fertilization, while others only need it occasionally. Talk to your garden center about the correct balance for your plant. You may need a spade or small shovel if you grow your plant outdoors; pruning shears for roses and other woody plants; and gardening gloves to protect your hands. These are all helpful supplies, but they are not necessary for your plant to grow.
An award-winning blogger, Jessica Blue has been promoting sustainability, natural health and a do-it-yourself attitude since graduating University of California, Berkeley in 2000. Her work, seen in a wide variety of publications, advocates an environmentally-responsible and healthy lifestyle.