Simple Plant Basics

Here in North Carolina, my friends with green thumbs have told me that Tax Day and Mother’s Day mark the two major points after which it’s safe to plant. This means we have passed any risk of frost, and it’s optimal in terms of current and future weather.


  1. Determine your zone: Use a plant hardiness tool like this to enter your zip code and find your exact “zone”. I can’t count the number of times I have crossed my fingers and hoped that something pretty would survive in my ground without really researching. Once you know your zone, you can Google the types of plants that thrive best there.

  2. Know your soil: This somewhat goes along with identifying your zone, but each and every soil type is different and can be beneficial or toxic to certain plants. We have thick clay, which I immediately assumed was inhospitable for little baby seeds. Whenever I plant now, I try to mix in soil from older plants, compost, potting soil and occasionally fertilizer to make it a safer place for each type of bloom. Some even need things like sand to help with drainage, so be sure again to research everything and make no assumptions if you want your plants to live.

  3. Pay attention to your environment: One of the most “duh!” but great tips my neighbor had was to walk around your home outside (or inside depending on plant type) at different points during the day to note when the sun is the strongest. He encouraged me to get a notebook to jot this down, which could also be used to keep track of the plants I choose to put in those areas. Some plants need full all-day sun, some prefer morning light and others need shade in the AM and sun in the afternoon. I have made some (super incorrect) guesses and surprise– killed more plants!

  4. Keep track: Another grave mistake I’ve made is treating all my plants equally. I tend to be a “big picture” person and therefore just tell myself- plants need water, water the plants! In reality, they each have different needs. I have tried apps like Koubachi, Planta and Flourish to identify and keep track of my plants’ needs. In all honesty, I have found a good old fashioned calendar and reminders have been the most helpful.

As I mentioned, I am a fledgling gardener and no wealth of knowledge. However, these logical, attainable steps have made it easier to get my feet (and my plants!) wet.

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices | York Simpson Underwood Realty 
3700 Computer Drive Raleigh, NC 27609