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6 low-maintenance plants for the first-time gardener | Stodels Nursery

6 low-maintenance plants for the first-time gardener

19th December 2018



Whether you’re starting out gardening for the first time or just time-strapped, this list of low-maintenance garden and indoor plants with detailed care guides is just for you.

DRACAENA (SONG OF INDIA)
Known for its stripy green and lime-coloured leaves, the versatile dracaena is both an attractive addition to your indoor and outdoor space and a top air-purifying plant that will make your friends and family green with envy.

Light
  • These plants thrive in semi-shaded areas.
Soil
  • Potted dracaenas grow best in well-draining potting soil for houseplants.
Water
  • The dracena requires less water than most indoor plants. Water only when the top layer of soil is starting to dry out. Ideally, the soil should be kept moderately moist.
Fertiliser
  • Feed with a water-soluble houseplant nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium-rich 3:1:2 fertiliser every two weeks.
Expert tip
  • Dracaenas can grow up to 3 metres tall, but you can trim the top with a pair of sharp secateurs if you prefer to keep it shorter.

CONIFERS
One of the best low-maintenance plants, the conifer is hassle-free, will enhance the beauty of any garden and is perfect to build up your confidence in gardening. Conifers are available in a wide variety of shapes and colours, such as lime yellow, gold and silver.

Light
  • Conifers should be planted in a sunny spot in the garden, although the dark green and silver varieties will survive in dappled shade.
Soil
  • Plant conifers in medium to well-draining soil enriched with compost and mulch.
Water
  • This plant is both water-wise and drought-tolerant. In the first few weeks, check the plant every 2-3 days and water when the soil feels dry. After 3-6 months, it can be checked less frequently and will require water only during periods of prolonged drought.
Fertiliser
  • Conifers are not heavy feeders but are sensitive to chemicals, so only need to be fed monthly with an organic fertiliser.
Expert tip
  • Treat your conifer fortnightly between March and August with an insecticide such as Metasystox to ward off cypress aphids. This can be sprayed on or watered in at the base of the plant.

DEVIL’S IVY (GOLDEN PATHOS)
Named devil’s ivy because it’s nearly impossible to kill, this is the go-to for the first-time gardener. This pothos plant is an air purifier and its decorative vines make pretty hanging displays in high spots.

Light Soil
  • Plant in well-draining cactus potting mix and line the base of the pot with pebbles to encourage drainage.
Water
  • Devil’s ivy requires a moderate amount of water. Keep the soil fairly moist, but avoid soaking it completely.
Fertiliser
  • Feed every two weeks with a rich liquid fertiliser during summer, and once a month during winter.
Expert tips
  • Repot your devil’s ivy every two years in a slightly larger container. If you have pets, keep the plant out of reach as it may be poisonous to them.

FERNS
Ranging from maidenhair to the leather leaf, the fern is a wondrously diverse species and will reward you with spectacular foliage. It grows well as a groundcover under trees but can also be placed in hanging baskets.

Light
  • Ferns are ideal for shady areas in your garden: they require filtered shade and dappled sunlight such as that found under large, open-branched trees.
Soil
  • Opt for organic, porous soil that is rich in humus.
Water
  • Ferns love water. But to cut down on using too much water unnecessarily, place ferns in shady areas. If you plan on keeping ferns indoors, the best place for them is in the bathroom, as the moisture helps keep the plant hydrated.
Fertiliser
  • Fertilise once a month with a nitrogen-rich, organic plant food.
Expert tip
  • If your ferns are looking weary due to dehydration, add a solution of Epsom salts, tea and water to the soil.

BEGONIAS
Known for beautiful flowers and decorative leaves, begonias are easy to grow, flower throughout summer and add a burst of colour to your space.

Light
  • Begonias flourish in medium light and well-ventilated spaces.
Soil
  • Use a soil that is slightly acidic and porous. Generally, an organic potting mix works well.
Water
  • Water your begonias at the base to avoid the possibility of fungal diseases.
  • Keep soil moist, but not wet. Once the top 20cm of the soil has dried out, you can water it again.
Fertiliser
  • Feed begonias once a week with a liquid fertiliser such as Multifeed or Nitrosol.
Expert tip
  • Trim any broken stems and leaves with secateurs to promote renewed growth.

SUCCULENTS
Succulents are hardy, drought-tolerant and not fussy at all, making them incredibly easy-maintenance plants. They’re fitting as decoration for little nooks in your home and garden, or as table centrepieces. Best of all, they’re the starring feature in a stunning water-wise rock garden.

Light
While succulents grow better when they’re not exposed to direct sun, there are some pointers to bear in mind:
  • If new growth is pale green and elongated, your succulent will need more light.
  • If the light-facing side of your plant is turning yellow, tan, red or has become indented, your succulent is getting too much light.
Water
  • During the warmer parts of the year, they should be watered once a week. Rather than water in dribs and drabs, wait until the soil is completely dry, then give the plant a good drenching. Once you’ve done this, empty the saucer beneath the pot so that the roots don’t sit in excess water.
  • Succulents go into a dormant phase during winter and generally need water only once a month.
Soil
  • Succulents are best grown in porous, sandy soils that allow food, water and air to get to the roots – and allow water to drain through.
Fertiliser
  • Strictly speaking, succulents will survive without you feeding them, but providing nutrients with a low-nitrogen fertiliser will promote healthier, faster growth. Fertilise at half of the recommended rate and only once a year for indoor succulents. Outdoor succulents can be fed more often during their active growing period.
Expert tip
  • Succulents struggle in stagnant air, so ensure your plants have access to good air circulation.

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