A beginner’s guide to gardening


DIY and how-to

A person holding yellow flowers and green leaves in their hands, standing in a garden with sunlight filtering through foliage. They wear a green apron over blue jeans.

Welcome to the world of gardening! Whether you’ve decided to make gardening your new hobby or want to add a touch of nature to your surroundings, you’re about to start an exciting journey. 

Don’t worry if you’re still a bit “green”. This beginner’s gardening guide will help you and your plants thrive.

Step 1. Choose your first plants

Have you considered the plants you’d like to add to your space? From flowering shrubs to interesting-looking succulents, the options are endless. If you’re in the early stages of your gardening journey, starting with plants that require very little maintenance is best. 

Hardy herbs like basil and mint, or easy-to-grow geraniums, marigolds or granadilla plants, are excellent choices. Remember to check whether your new plants prefer full sun, shade, or semi-shade to flourish, then match this with the conditions your indoor or outdoor space offers.

Step 2. Invest in suitable garden pots and planters

Once you’ve chosen your first few plants, it’s time to pick a spot for each. If you don’t have a big garden, container gardening is a great alternative. 

Garden pots and planters come in all shapes and sizes – from small terracotta pots to big ceramic containers and rustic-looking wooden plant boxes. Think of these containers as “real estate” for your plants. 

Before you get your hands dirty, ensure the pots have drainage holes so your plants won’t drown during a downpour. If you’re planting your plants in beds, make sure they’re well-spaced and planted at a good depth.

Step 3. Choose the perfect soil for your plants

Selecting the right soil for your green companions is like choosing a comfy bed – it sets the foundation for their wellbeing. 

Different plants have different preferences, so consider their needs (possibly checking in with a Stodels in-store consultant). For example, cacti and succulents thrive in well-draining, sandy soil, while moisture-loving ferns prefer a rich, organic mix. 

Invest in quality soil to give your plants the best possible start.

Step 3. Explore the magic of liquid fertiliser

Plants, much like us, need good meals to thrive. Good-quality fertilisers are packed with essential nutrients your plants will drink up. 

Note, however, that moderation is key. Too much of a good thing can be detrimental. Think of it as your plants’ version of a balanced diet – don’t overdo it on the fertiliser buffet!

Step 4. Understand how to water your plants

Water is vital for sustaining life, and your plants are no exception. Knowing how much water to give each plant and when is an art. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other problems, while too little water could mean your plants don’t survive. As you buy your plants, read the labels and follow the watering instructions carefully. 

When in doubt, stick your finger into the soil up to your knuckle. If the soil feels dry, it’s watering time. Hold off watering if the soil is still damp. Remember never to waste water (after all, South Africa is a water-scarce country) – check out our guide to saving water in your garden.

Step 5. Keep your plants trimmed and tidy

You regularly need a haircut, and so do your plants. Pruning is the horticultural equivalent of a stylish trim. 

Regularly remove dead or yellowing leaves, encourage new growth, and shape your plants. Pruning is a form of tough love ‒ a little trim here and there makes for a beautiful plant in the long term.

Step 6. Get the sun/shade balance right

Plants vary widely in terms of the level of sun they require.

Sun-loving plants like hibiscus, marigolds and lavender thrive in bright, warm conditions, while shade-loving plants like ferns and impatiens prefer a cooler environment. To create a good-looking garden, combine these two groups of plants. 

The plants you buy at Stodels all have labels guiding you on their sun or shade preferences. If you need more info, look at our guides to gardening in shady spots and growing thriving, heat-loving plants.

Let’s get planting!

We love helping new gardeners, which is part of why we set up our consultants-on-call service. Each session you book gets you an hour with a qualified horticulturist and experienced nursery team for advice on the best plants and layout for your garden. 

Also, don’t forget to join our Garden Club for big savings and insider info. You even get a free gift every month!