A Second Letter to New Gardeners

Dear New Gardener,

I feel compelled to write again to offer you some reassurance that everything is fine in your garden. Why do I feel this need?

Because I am reading so many questions from new gardeners on social media.

"The leaves on my fill-in-the-blank plant have spots on them, or bumps, or holes. Will the plant live!?"

Gosh, yes, the plant will probably be just fine. I have yet to completely lose a plant that developed a few spots on its leaves, or a few bumps, or even a few holes.  Do you want to know what is causing that problem with your plant? Of course you do. So keep asking but rest assured that you aren't likely to have a plant up and die because of a few spots or holes or bumps on its leaves.

"What is this plant? Is it a weed or should I keep it?"

 I think this is the equivalent of what it feels like to have a puppy follow you home or a cat show up on your front porch. A plant just shows up in your garden so now you feel like it is meant to be to keep it and find out what it is.

Well, I have sad news for you. Most of the plants that just show up in your garden are likely to be weeds. Occasionally you might find you've got a good plant on your hands, especially if you inherited a garden where someone else planted a bunch of cool plants for you to discover over time. But for the most part, plants that just show up are weeds.

"Can I prune this now?"

I don't know, can you? Haha. Not a helpful answer. I apologize. Probably one of the biggest challenges for new gardeners is figuring out when to prune and how to prune. Cutting off that first branch can be scary. What if you do it wrong? The good news is that you aren't likely to mess a plant up too much by cutting it back a little.

Could you lose next year's flowers? Possibly, if you cut a plant back too late in the summer. You might also be cutting off this year's flowers if you cut a plant back too soon.  Please do some quick online searches and ask a few questions before you grab your pruners. We'll help you out as best we can so you'll gain more confidence with every cut.

I hope this was a helpful letter, dear new gardener.  We want gardening to be a relaxing and fun hobby for you so please keep asking questions, and keep watering and deadheading.

And don't forget to spend some time just enjoying your garden. Trust me. You'll be glad you did because in the blink of an eye it will be cold again and you'll be back inside, hopefully thumbing through seed catalogs planning another garden.

With a shared love of gardening,