Top 5 Gardening Mistakes

Get your garden back on track by avoiding these common blunders.

Related To:

Brown thumbs, lend me your ears.

We’ve all been there – a bright and lively plant reduced to a pile of wilted leaves overnight. Don’t give up. Read on to see if you’re making one of these common mistakes.

Young Plants from Nurseries Grow in Seedling Pots

Young Plants from Nurseries Grow in Seedling Pots

Young plants are available from nurseries. Sturdy young plants are grown individually in small pots, making it easier for gardeners who might not have time or space to start plants from seeds.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Having Too Many Plants

I’ll be the first to say I’m guilty of this. I turn into a kid at a candy store the minute I walk into a garden center. Variety is always great, but if you’re just starting out you may find it difficult to care for the individual needs of multiple plants. Start small and build from there.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Use this USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, provided by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (and in the public domain), to help determine which plants are likely to survive the winter in your area. The map divides the country into 12 gardening zones, based on the average lowest temperatures in each. Remember: the map is a guide. Many other factors determine whether or not a plant will overwinter in your garden, including humidity, sunlight, soil type, and wind.

Photo by: Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Not Knowing Your Zone

The USDA divides the country into 13 different growing regions to help gardeners choose plants that will thrive in their area. The USDA bases their zones on winter hardiness – a Zone 3 grower needs plants that can withstand extreme temperatures as low as -40 to -30 degrees F while winters in Zone 9 fall between 28 to 18 degrees F. Since the USDA only addresses winter lows, Sunset created its own climate zone map that factors in rainfall, elevation, summer temperatures and other factors. Still need help? Ask the staff at your local garden center, a neighbor with a green thumb or call your local county extension office. Your extension office has people on staff who can help with everything from determining your zone to identifying garden weeds and pests.

watering radish seedlings

Photo by: Will Heap

Will Heap

Not Paying Attention to Your Plants’ Needs

You can’t grow tomatoes in deep shade (if you can, please tell me your secret) and succulents will wither with too much water. Always check the plant tags. “Full Sun” means your plant needs six or more hours of direct sunlight, and fruiting vegetables like tomatoes and peppers grow best with eight or more hours. Anything less and you may notice foliage, but no blooms or fruits. Knowing your plants’ water requirements is also vital – with most plants, you want to keep the soil moist but not wet. Don’t let plants sit in standing water and keep an eye on the weather to make sure you don’t water right before a rainstorm.

Edible Container Gardening: 26 Steps to Success

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Why Grow Fruits and Vegetables in Containers?

Containers are a great option for those with limited (or no) ground space, such as apartment dwellers, and for newbie gardeners who don’t want to commit to digging just yet. They’re also a beautiful addition to a larger garden. Growing in containers can be easy if you set your garden up right.

Photo By: DK - The Complete Gardener's Guide © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Start With the Soil

Just like with any type of gardening, successful container gardening starts with the soil. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants, but in containers, you shouldn’t rely on regular gardening soil, which can be too heavy and get water-logged in a pot. Light and fluffy is the name of the game. While bagged potting mixes can be expensive, it’s better to put in the investment up front than to grumble about heavy pots and poor yields later in the season.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Make Your Own Potting Mix

You can also make your own custom mix by combining peat moss (best bought in bales at your local garden center) with compost (your own or bagged) at about a 2:1 ratio. You can also throw in a little perlite, a common ingredient in bagged mixes, to make your custom mix lighter and more apt to retain water.

Choose the Right Container

There are about as many container types as there are plants suitable for containers, including upcycled ones, so your imagination is the limit. But it’s important to think about three things: size, materials and drainage.

Photo By: DK - Grow Plants in Pots © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Container Size Matters

Honestly, the bigger, the better. Large pots require more soil (again, more upfront cost) but will save you time and money when it comes to water.

Photo By: DK - The Complete Gardener's Guide © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Watch Your Weight

The downside of large containers is weight. All that soil adds up. Add casters to containers or place a heavy container on a plant caddy (a stand with wheels) so you can easily move it around.

Photo By: Courtesy of Brian Patrick Flynn

Material Matters, Too

Materials vary from clay to plastic, metal to wood, and each material has its own set of pluses and minuses.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

When to Choose Clay Pots

Clay will dry out quickly and require more watering, but glazed clay will retain moisture much better than unglazed. If you hate watering, don’t choose clay. But it can be a great option for plants that don’t like wet soil, like most herbs as well as these strawberries, grown in a traditional clay strawberry pot with side pockets.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Planting in Plastic

Being nonporous, plastic tends to hold water, which may be a negative for plants that need drier soils and great drainage, such as most herbs and peppers.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Mind Your Metal

Metal will get hot under high temps, cold under low ones. Eggplant likes hot weather so this setup should work well. But you could provide many plants a little more shade when planted in metal pots so they don't fry in the hot sun. You could also plant in a plastic pot and place it inside a metal one.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Wood Will Work

Wood, such as for a whiskey barrel or old crate, is a happy medium when it comes to moisture and temperature, but it will rot over time.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Think About Fabric

A new option for modern gardens, especially small-space patios, is breathable spun fabric that lets moisture out but keeps soil in. Hanging pocket planters made of this fabric create a cool look. You’ll also see bags for growing potatoes and other crops made from this type of fabric.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Wicker Wears Quicker

Another option often seen in cottage-style gardens is wicker. While it rots over time like wood, lining the wicker container with landscape fabric will help prevent soil from leaking out and slow the wicker from breaking down.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Upcycled Containers

Vintage and found items, like these metal wagons, can make great planters with a little extra personality. Mind the same the rules depending on the material of the upcycled container. Whatever material and container you choose, just know the considerations that come along with it. And whatever you do, be sure the pot has good drainage holes.

What Edibles Can You Grow in a Pot?

Almost any fruit or vegetable plant can be grown in a container, provided your container is large enough, but it helps to choose varieties specifically bred for small spaces. Look for variety names and descriptions including these words: bush, dwarf, patio, trailing and miniature. You can easily grow herbs, peppers, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, summer squash, and greens, as well as broccoli, cabbage and other cool-season crops in spring and fall.

Photo By: DK - Grow Plants in Pots © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Go Deep With Root Crops

Root vegetables such as radishes, carrots and beets also grow well in pots that are deep enough, at least 12 inches deep.

Photo By: DK - Grow Plants in Pots © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Add Some Onions

Onions and relatives like garlic and leeks also love deep containers with good drainage so the bulbs won’t rot.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Try Fruit Trees and Shrubs

Fruit trees, especially dwarf varieties, can also be grown in large pots and make beautiful statement pieces for a patio garden. Depending on the type and your climate, you need to be prepared to bring these pots inside during the colder months, so plant caddies or pots with casters are an especially good idea for these plants. You can also try dwarf varieties of blueberries and raspberries in containers.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Train Climbing Vines

Climbing plants like peas, beans, cucumbers and some melons can be growing in pots but need trellises to work well.

Photo By: DK - Gardening Step by Step © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Use Trellises

A simple teepee trellis is always a good solution.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Work the Wall

You can also attach a trellis to a wall and have the climbers creep up it.

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Design Thyme

Planting taller vegetables, like tomatoes, with lower-growing herbs and flowers will encourage pollinators and create a balanced container garden. The “thriller, filler, spiller” concept of container design — with a tall, spiky plant in back, a mounding plant in the center, and a trailing plant in the front — works great for edible containers as well. Thyme is a go-to trailer.

Photo By: DK - Grow Plants in Pots © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Nice Arrangement

Containers can be crucial to sprucing up a bland outdoor space. Set out a variety of pot sizes and materials around a patio to add a sense of privacy and lushness.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Water Often and Well

Plants grown in containers need to be watered more often than in-ground gardens, because containers have less soil and dry out more quickly. How often will depend on your climate, what you’re growing and the type of container material you choose (clay more often, plastic less often, as described previously). Distribute water well and gently using a watering can or a watering wand on the end of your garden hose.

Photo By: DK - Gardening Step by Step © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Go for Drip

You can also set up a drip system for pots using a kit, or try soaker hoses. Both options direct water to the soil and roots, rather than the leaves, which is a good gardening practice however you're growing. These systems also can be set up on timers for watering consistency, a key to preventing problems like blossom end rot.

Photo By: DK - Gardening Shortcuts © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Don’t Forget Mulch

However you water, be sure to add mulch to retain soil moisture in your container gardens just as you do in in-ground beds. Hardwood bark mulch isn’t great for vegetable gardens, including containers, because it takes too long to decompose and ties up nutrients in your soil. Instead, choose cedar or cypress (from sustainably grown sources), which have the added benefit of deterring some insects. Oat or wheat straw can be great, just be sure you get seed-free straw, otherwise you’ll be pulling grass out of your containers for months. 

Photo By: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Fertilize Wise

Because pots need frequent watering, fertilizers can get diluted more quickly than with in-ground gardens. Use a liquid fertilizer that’s meant to be mixed in water, such as organic fish fertilizer. You can also mix in a time-released fertilizer or an organic fertilizer that includes microorganisms to encourage soil health.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

French Marigolds Often Used as Companion Plants

French Marigolds Often Used as Companion Plants

One of the best-known plants to combine with vegetable crops is the French marigold (Tagetes ). The strong scent of its vividly colored flowers is thought to mask the smell of surrounding crops so that pests cannot detect them.

Photo by: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Vegetable Gardening , 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

One of the best-known plants to combine with vegetable crops is the French marigold (Tagetes ). The strong scent of its vividly colored flowers is thought to mask the smell of surrounding crops so that pests cannot detect them.

Not Making the Right Friends

Don’t let your plants hang out with the wrong crowd. That means when you’re combining plants, make sure they have similar requirements so they can both thrive together. Pay attention to the spacing on your plant tags so they have room to grow and thrive. Take mint, for example: It’s a bully in a garden space, growing so quickly and aggressively that it can choke out other plants. Many gardeners actually grow mint in containers and then sink the container into the ground, then prune often to keep its runners in check.

Plant Smarter, Not Harder

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Companion Planting

One of the best-known plants to combine with vegetable crops is the French marigold (Tagetes). The strong scent of its vividly colored flowers is thought to mask the smell of surrounding crops so that pests cannot detect them. Many gardeners find it effective outdoors and also in the greenhouse.

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Enrich the Soil

Plants known as green manures are grown for digging back into the soil to add valuable nitrogen and organic material. In small gardens they are best used in conjunction with compost and other organic matter, and dug in before they set seed and become woody.

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Attract Insects

Plants that flower prolifically, such as Limnanthes, are ideal for attracting beneficial insects and add welcome splashes of color, too.

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Intercropping

Working in the same way as companion planting, the strong scent of this crop of onions is thought to overpower the scent of carrots, causing carrot flies to bypass the crop and leave it undamaged.

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Grow Sacrificial Basil

Help limit whitefly damage to greenhouse crops by planting basil alongside them. The whitefly usually attacks the tender basil leaves first, leaving crop plants relatively unscathed.

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Protect Your Plants With a Cold Frame

Protect Your Plants With a Cold Frame

A cold frame can protect young seedlings from late-spring frosts or help you extend your growing season in the fall.

A cold frame can protect young seedlings from late-spring frosts or help you extend your growing season in the fall.

Ignoring the Seasons

With gardening, timing and patience is everything. Spring tulips actually need to be planted in the fall, and the best time to prune roses is during winter. Plant summer tomatoes too early, and a late-night spring frost could take them out. Pay attention to the weather patterns, talk to other gardeners in your area and sign up for gardening newsletters to help you create a growing strategy. 

Now, dust off your garden gloves and get your hands back in the dirt.

Plants You Can't Kill

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Velvet Cloak Smoke Tree (Cotinus coggygria 'Velvet Cloak')

The velvet cloak smoke tree has beautiful, deep purple leaves.

Large deciduous shrub or small tree with deep purple leaves and "puffs" of pink flowers in early summer.
Plant in average garden soil that is rich in organic matter and well-drained; tolerates some salt.
Plant in full sun.
Height: 10-15 feet/ Width: 15-20 feet
Hardy in USDA zones 5-8:
Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost.
Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun.
Zone 7: Plant in fall; plant in full sun; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
Zone 8: Plant in fall; plant in full sun; provide supplemental water during dry spells.

Jules Verne Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Jules Verne')

This perennial is known for its fragrant double pink flowers.

Herbaceous perennial noted for its fragrant double pink flowers.
Plant in full sun to light afternoon shade; cut back foliage after frost.
Plant shallowly in rich, but well-drained soil; fertilize in spring; divide in autumn, if desired.
Height: 32 inches/ Width: 28-32 inches
Hardy in USDA zones 3-8:
Zone 3: Plant in spring; mulch after first hard to prevent winter heaving; avoid contact with salt; plant in full sun; fertilize when new growth appears in spring.
Zone 4: Plant in spring; mulch after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; avoid contact with salt; plant in full sun; fertilize when new growth appears in spring.
Zone 5: Plant in spring; mulch after first hard to prevent winter heaving; avoid contact with salt; plant in full sun; fertilize when new growth appears in spring.
Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; mulch lightly in fall; plant in full sun to light afternoon shade; fertilize when new growth appears in spring.
Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; mulch lightly in fall; plant in full sun to light afternoon shade; fertilize when new growth appears in spring; blooming may be reduced after warm winters.
Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; mulch lightly in fall; plant in full sun to light afternoon shade; fertilize when new growth appears in spring; blooming may be reduced after warm winters.

©Horticopia

Winter King Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis 'Winter King')

Bright red fruit grows on the winter king hawthorn through winter.

Upright deciduous small tree with flat clusters of white flowers in May followed by bright red fruit through winter and occasional thorns.
Plant in average garden soil that is rich in organic matter and well-drained
Plant in full sun with good air circulation.
Height: 15-20 feet/ Width: 18-20 feet
Hardy in USDA zones 5-7:
Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost.
Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun.
Zone 7: Plant in fall; plant in full sun; provide supplemental water during dry spells.
Liriope muscari 'Big Blue' — Big Blue Liriope
Clump forming, evergreen ground cover with grass-like foliage and lavender flowers in summer.
Plant in rich organic soil that is well-drained.
Plant in full sun to full shade.
Prune back tattered foliage in late winter; divide in spring if needed.
Height: 12-18 inches
Width: 1-2 feet
Hardy in USDA zones (5) 6-10:
Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; avoid exposure to salt; mulch heavily after first frost; pull back mulch in spring; may be deciduous in this zone.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to full shade; mulch after first frost; pull back mulch in spring.
Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to full shade; mulch after first frost; pull back mulch in spring.
Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in light to full shade; mulch in fall; pull back mulch in spring.
Zone 9: Plant in early fall; plant in light to full shade; mulch in fall; pull back mulch in spring.
Zone 10: Plant in early fall; plant in light to full shade; mulch in fall; pull back mulch in spring.

©Horticopia

Variegated Ribbon Grass (Pharlaris arundinacea 'Strawberries & Cream')

The Strawberries & Cream Ribbon Grass is banned where it is not native.

Gardener's Note: The Strawberries & Cream Ribbon Grass is considered native to Canada and its neighboring northern states, but it is banned where it is not native because it can be invasive. Check with your local native plant society or extension service office to learn whether it is native to your area.
Variegated green and white perennial grass with white flower spikes in summer and arching foliage that turns pink in cold weather.
Plant in full sun to partial shade; foliage and flowering is better in full sun; prune to the ground in late winter.
Plant in average garden to wet garden soil; can be aggressive in a wetland setting.
Height: 18-36 inches/ Width: 24-36 inches, spreading
Hardy in USDA zones 4-9:
Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after planting and again before first frost; water when dry.
Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after planting and again before first frost; water when dry.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch after planting and again before first frost; water when dry.
Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch after planting and again before first frost; water when dry.
Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch after planting and again before first frost; water when dry.
Zone 9: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch after planting and again in spring; water when dry.

Burgundy Carousel Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Bailtwo')

The burgundy carousel Japanese barberry is considered invasive in some parts of the country.

Gardener's Note: This Barberry is non-native and is considered invasive in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Midwest.
Mounding, deciduous shrub with deep purple leaves, yellow flowers in spring, red fruit in fall and thorns.
Remove spent flower stalks to prevent unwanted seedlings.
Plant in full sun to light shade; foliage color better in full sun.
Prune back after first frost; divide and fertilize in spring.
Plant in fertile, moist but well-drained soil; drought tolerant once established.
Height: 3-4 feet/ Width: 3-4 feet
Hardy in zones 4-8:
Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; protect from salt; pull mulch back in spring.
Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; protect from salt.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall.
Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.

Elijah Blue Fescue (Festuca cinerea 'Elijah Blue')

This ornamental grass has blue-gray foliage and blue-green flowers.

Evergreen ornamental grass with blue-gray foliage and blue-green flowers.
Plant in full sun for best color.
Plant in moist to dry, well-drained soil.
Height: 8-12 inches/ Width: 8-12 inches
Hardy in zones 4-7 (8):
Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost to avoid winter heaving; avoid exposure to salt; may require extra protection if container grown.
Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first hard frost to avoid winter heaving; avoid exposure to salt.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall.
Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; may lose bright color in hot weather.
Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun; mulch in fall; may lose bright color in hot weather.

©Horticopia

Thornless Common Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Suncole')

This deciduous tree prefers full sun.

Deciduous, irregular tree with fern-like golden compound leaves and tufts of white flowers in spring.
Plant in full sun.
Tolerant of a wide range of well-drained soils.
Height: 40-45 feet/ Width: 40-45 feet
Hardy in zones 3(4)-9:
Zone 3: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost to prevent winter heaving; avoid exposure to salt; may be marginally hardy in this zone.
Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost to prevent winter heaving; avoid exposure to salt.
Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost to prevent winter heaving; avoid exposure to salt.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall.
Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall.
Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full; mulch in fall.
Zone 9: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full; mulch in fall.

Grey Owl Juniper (Juniperus virginiana 'Grey Owl')

The foliage on this conifer turns purple in winter.

Broad, slow-growing, spreading evergreen conifer with gray-green foliage that turns purple in winter.
Plant in full sun to light shade.
Fertilize in early spring; prune if needed in late winter.
Plant in average, moist but very well-drained soil.
Height: 2-3 feet/ Width: 4-6 feet
Hardy in zones 2-9:
Zone 3: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; protect from salt; pull mulch back in spring.
Zone 3: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; protect from salt; pull mulch back in spring.
Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; protect from salt; pull mulch back in spring.
Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; protect from salt.
Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.
Zone 7: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.
Zone 8: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.
Zone 9: Plant in early fall; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.

©Horticopia

Rose Glow Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow')

Once it is established, this shrub is drought tolerant.

Mounding, deciduous shrub with red leaves flecked with white, yellow flowers and thorns.
Remove spent flower stalks to prevent unwanted seedlings.
Plant in full sun to light shade; foliage color better in full sun.
Prune back after first frost; divide and fertilize in spring.
Plant in fertile, moist but well-drained soil; drought tolerant once established.
Height: 3-5 feet/ Width: 3-4 feet
Hardy in zones 4-8:
Zone 4: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; protect from salt; pull mulch back in spring.
Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch heavily after first hard frost to prevent winter heaving; protect from salt.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch in fall.
Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; mulch in fall.

Avalanche Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Avalanche')

This perennial grass sprouts pink flowers in summer.

Perennial grass with variegated green/white foliage and pink flowers in summer that fade to brown in winter.
Plant in full sun.
Plant in well-drained soil; prune back to the ground in late winter.
Height: 2-3 feet (foliage) 4-5 feet (flower stalks)/ Width: 2-3 feet
Hardy in USDA zones 5-9:
Zone 5: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; mulch after first frost; avoid exposure to salt; water during dry spells.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light; mulch after first frost; water during dry spells.
Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light; mulch after first frost; water during dry spells.
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light; mulch after first frost; water during dry spells; may struggle in warmer areas of this zone.
Zone 9: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light; mulch after first frost; water during dry spells.

Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum var. striatum)

Pink flowers adorn the cranesbill hardy geranium in summer.

Hardy perennial grown for its palmate foliage and pale pink cup-like flowers in summer.
Plant in rich, moist, but well-drained soil.
Plant in full sun to partial shade.
Divide in spring as needed.
Height: 6-10 inches/ Width: 12-14 inches
Hardy in USDA zones 4-8:
Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun to light shade; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to light shade; apply extra mulch after first hard frost.
Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade; apply extra mulch after first hard frost.
Zone 8: Plant in spring; plant in full sun to partial shade.

Firewitch Dianthus (Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch')

The flowers on this groundcover resemble small carnations.

Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch'
Mounding evergreen perennial grown as a groundcover with silver foliage and pink flowers that resemble small carnations.
Plant in moist, but well-drained soil.
Plant in full sun.
Shear back after flowering to promote re-blooming.
Height: 6 inches/ Width: 10-12 inches
Hardy in USDA zones 4-8:
Zone 4: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
Zone 5: Plant in spring to prevent winter heaving; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost; avoid contact with salt.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost.
Zone 7: Plant in spring; plant in full sun; apply extra mulch after first hard frost.
Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun.

Endless Summer Hydrangea (Hydrangea Macrophylla 'Endless Summer' )

It is best to plant hydrangeas where deer cannot reach them.

Gardener's Note: Deer LOVE hydrangeas. Be sure to plant them where deer cannot get to them, such as in containers on an elevated deck.
Deciduous shrub with lime green flowers that change to pink during summer.
Tolerant of most soil conditions with moderate moisture.
Plant in full sun to light shade; prune while dormant in winter.
Height: 8-10 feet/ Width: 8-10 feet
Hardy in USDA zones 4-9:
Zone 4: Plant in spring; apply additional mulch after first hard frost; plant in full sun to light shade; avoid contact with salt; water regularly in dry spells during growing season.
Zone 5: Plant in spring; apply additional mulch after first hard frost; plant in full sun to light shade; avoid contact with salt; water regularly in dry spells during growing season.
Zone 6: Plant in spring; apply additional mulch after first hard frost; plant in full sun to light shade; avoid contact with salt; water regularly in dry spells during growing season.
Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; apply additional mulch in fall; plant in full sun to light shade; water regularly in dry spells during growing season.
Zone 8: Plant in early fall; apply additional mulch in fall; plant in full sun to light shade; water regularly in dry spells during growing season.
Zone 9: Plant in early fall; apply additional mulch in fall; plant in full sun to light shade; water regularly in dry spells during growing season.

Bowles Golden Sedge (Carex elata 'Aurea' )

This perennial will produce better color when planted in partial sun.

Evergreen clumping perennial with grass-like variegated foliage of yellow and green.
Prune to 3-4 inches before new growth appears; divide every few years.
Plant in full sun to full shade; color is better in partial sun.
Plant in rich, moist soil; tolerates damp soil.
Height 28 inches/ Width: 18 inches
Hardy in USDA zones 5-8:
Zone 5: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch in fall.
Zone 6: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in full sun to partial shade; mulch in fall.
Zone 7: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in partial to full shade; mulch in fall.
Zone 8: Plant in spring or early fall; plant in partial to full shade; mulch in fall.

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