Gardening tips needed for a true beginner

SunlovininOKMay 30, 2011

Hello! My name is Amanda, I am just now getting into gardening. I've read some posts on this forum by many of you to get an idea of where to start. But there seems to be so many obstacles that go into starting a garden, and I do want to get it right. I am going to plant a garden in a flower bed thats already existing that is 15.5in wide x 10 feet long, it currently has your mix of dead leaves, and grass currently growing in it. I have began using Round up to kill off the grass and then plan on using a roto-tiller to mix in some compost and fertilizer for the plants. The flower bed is facing south, and gets about 6 hours of sunlight per day. I am interested in planting (Based on recommendations read in the forum) Cockscomb Celosia; Hardy Ice plant as a ground cover; and Guara (so far this is what I have picked out) my question is, are these 3 a good fit to be planted in the same bed together? Secondly, as a beginner to get things to actually grow instead of die is it easier to start off with seeds versus buying already grown plant/flower from a nursery? Any tips, tricks you can provide to a newbie I would be so grateful! Thank you

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Welcome Amanda! Yea! I get to be the first (for a change!) to say that!

Now the down-side to my "welcome"....I don't know a lot about the plants you're proposing...but I can tell you to STOP using the Round Up!!! Considering you are planning to till in some Amendments...that's good. We are a hearty bunch of veggie growers here, but several of us also grow ornamentals. I'm sure that someone with much more knowledge about that than me will come along and advise you.

I think you're on the right path....


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 11:49PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Welcome, Amanda.

Read the label on your Round-up Bottle and see how long you have to wait to plant into that soil. I think it usually is 10-14 days if you used the regular formula but could be much longer if you use some of the newer formulas that say you won't get regrowth for months.

Cockscomb celosia from seed is simple and you can direct sow it. I just scatter a handful of seed on top of the prepared bed and water very lightly with a watering can so I don't wash the seed away. It is very heat-tolerant and can be sown anytime in the spring or summer after the average last frost date (generally sometime in April depending on where you live in Oklahoma) has passed. I haven't raised ice plant from seed so cannot comment on it. If I were going to grow it, I'd just buy plants at the nursery, and the same is true of gaura.

They should grow fine together. Just do your research on each one and make sure you give them the proper spacing so they don't crowd one another. There are different guaras available and some get larger than others, so be sure you know the name of the gaura you buy so you can check online and verify its' mature size and proper spacing.

Good luck with your new garden bed,


    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 8:20AM
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Pallida(Zone 7b)

Hi, Amanda
as Paula and Dawn say, careful with the Round-Up. The label will tell you when it is safe to plant. Wow! What a great size flower bed. You will have plenty of room for a variety of flowers. Size, color and leaf texture should guide you as to what to plant. If you are wanting a structured, formal look, plant tall in the back of the bed, medium in the middle of the bed and short in the front of the bed. If you are wanting an English cottage garden look, plant at random your favorite flowers. I suggest you plant as many
perennials (come back every year) as possible. The Whirling Butterflies, a perennial, (Gaura) should be planted toward the back, if taller variety. The
Cockscomb, an annual (freezes out in Winter), Celosia, different varieties,
should be planted toward the front. Iceplant toward the front. The bed is
so wide, 15.5', you might begin by putting in a row of evergreen shrubs or,
perhaps, dwarf Crape Myrtles, Weigela, Abelia, etc. , and then plant the
flowers in descending heights toward the front of bed. The South side of
the house will support such sun-loving perennials as Russian Sage
(Perovskia), Daylilies (Hemerocallis), Gaura, Gayfeather (Liatris),
Coneflowers (Echinacea), Tickseed, different varieties, (Coreopsis), Phlox,
Salvia, Shasta Daisies, etc., etc. These plants would be easiest to startpurchased at the nursery. Annuals are easily started from seed. The
best time to start shrubs and perennials is in the Fall or early Spring, when the heat and lack of rain won't be so damaging to new transplants. You
can buy a plant book or look on tbe Internet for info on these and other
plants. You might be able to find neighbors or relatives willing to share
some of these plants by divisions from their old, established plants to
avoid the expense at the nurseries. Good luck, and have fun!


    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 10:12AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

I like the three you've chosen! They should be pretty. Also, Zinnias are easy from seed and there is plenty of time to grow them.

I see Jeanie mentioned Shasta Daisies. My favorite is "Becky". I'm not sure if I've seen them recently, but they seem to grow better for me.

I second the nomination for daylilies. Purple coneflower should grow there was well.

The trick to a good garden is to tend it! It needs plants, water, and weeding. If you give it those three, it will do fine.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 11:21AM
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Welcome! A note on Gauras- they cover a big space when mature & can shade out things planted too close. You can shear them back about halfway midsummer or so for another round of blooms. It takes a couple of years to reach their full beauty. And-they do not like to be moved! I really like them, have 3. They will look gorgeous with cockscomb.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 12:54PM
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