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The Black Thumb Guide to Gardening

Your flowers never grow, but you can’t put your finger on what you’re doing wrong. With these tips, tricks, and techniques, you’ll soon be an old hand at gardening.

Gardening Know-How

17 Tools Every Gardener Should Own
Just what you need, no matter how big or small your plot.

Wagon filled with plants

Shop Smart at the Garden Center

Here's how to prepare for your trip, spot healthy plants, and select the right tools.
Photo: Ngoc Minh Ngo

Elegant, Exquisite, Easy Flower Arrangements

The layperson’s guide to creating beautiful, lush fancy-flower-shop arrangements at home.
Photo: Martyn Thompson

Composting 101

Composting upgrades garden soil, keeps plants healthy, and can even lessen planet-unfriendly greenhouse gases. Here’s how to do it.
Photo:  Sang An

Smart Outdoor Storage Containers

Make the most of your outdoor space by getting all of that summertime stuff organized.
Photo: containerstore.com
Wagon filled with plants
Mixed bouquet in mental vase with geranium, peonies, carnations, sweat pea, columbine and clematis flowers
Composting equation
Fishing Pole Storage Rack

Growing Tips and Tricks

Cut flowers

How to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh
Real Simple tested common strategies―a drop of bleach, a penny, and so on―for lengthening the life of the tulip to find out what really works.

Plants in yellow pots

How to Care for Potted Plants
Tips for keeping plants healthy; plus our favorite flowers and plants for container gardens.

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Watering can, pots, produce and a rabbit by a small fence

Vegetable and Herb Container Garden Checklist

A container garden is easy to grow if you follow these how-tos.

  • Pick your pot. Make sure the container is at least 24 inches in diameter. There should be room for the plants to develop strong roots and grow. Terra-cotta containers are good options, or consider repurposing a plastic trash can or bin and poking drainage holes in the bottom.

    Related: Planters for Any Garden

  • Plan your arrangement. A 24-inch container can fit five to seven seedlings of varying sizes. Choose an anchor—a large plant like a tomato, a pepper, a blueberry, or an eggplant. Add a plant with height—a tall graceful fennel, an okra, or a dill. Then fill in around the edges with lettuces, spinach, or smaller herbs like parsley, basil, or rosemary. Try to include a plant that will dangle over the edge like nasturtium, strawberries, or even a small squash.

    Related: 3 Easy Gardens for Small Spaces

  • Buy the best varieties. Pick up the seedlings at a nursery or farmers’ market. Select varieties of vegetables that are bred to be compact. Pay attention to leaf colors and textures when choosing vegetables and herbs, and look for edible flowers, too. Check the care tags to make sure the seedlings are compatible and can grow in the same pot.

    Related: Shop Smart at the Garden Center

View The Entire Checklist

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