It's debatable whether it's easier to grow plants or raise kids, but the two are similar. Building a good home environment for strong roots, weeding out bad company, giving extra protection when growing - all part of watching something you nurture and cherish grow to full bloom.
Enough with the analogies! Here are 10 top tips for healthier plants!
1. Check out the environment.
Good soil preparation is vital and is the single most important thing you can do. Also be aware whether your plant prefers light, what direct sun it can tolerate and where it grows best.
2. Position, position, position.
Plants don't like strong heat, cold draughts or strong winds. They're not fussy!
3. Water is good!
No surprise here! Plants like water. If it's a pot plant, water it from below (unless the instructions say otherwise). If it's a flower or bush in the garden and there's a dry period, water gently with a hose in the early hours of the morning or at dusk, or just let a hose slowly drip water into the bed.
4. But not too much water.
This is not so much a concern without plants that are outdoors, but it is a very common problem for indoor plants. We tend to care so much, that we over-water. Don't! Let them dry out between waterings, but make sure your waterings are thorough when you do them.
5. Food glorious food.
Just like all of us, plants love food - particularly when they're young. Nourish them during their growth spurts. If you don't want to use chemical-based fertilisers, try organic products compose of compost, fish fertiliser or manure fertiliser. They will work very well.
6. Give them a little wipe.
If you have a plant or a tree with broad, glossy leaves, look after it! Give it an occasional wipe with a damp cloth. Talk to it. Tell it how gorgeous it is!
This is one of the most important things you can do to a plant. Just look on it as being cruel to be kind. It encourages new and even thicker and healthier growth.
8. Flower power
If you want your plant to flower profusely and look gorgeous, they will produce more flowers if you keep them slightly pot bound. If you prefer to let them grow at their own pace, and be in a pot to their suiting, they will produce less flowers.
9. They get stressed too!
Plants get stressed. Heat, disease, little things eating them, cold, damp, wrong location, even old age ... you name it, something can go wrong. Check your plants regularly for signs of stress, pests and disease and treat them where you can. Sometimes, they are too far gone, and it's best to get rid of them - harsh though that sounds - and plant something more suitable in their place. Learn from your mistake!
10. Remove dead leaves and flowers.
This is not just a matter of aesthetics. It also helps revitalise them and keep growing. If it's an outdoor plant, it's often a good time to fertilise them as you cut off the faded blooms and shear some of the top growth.
Gardening is therapeutic, creative, life-giving and good for the environment - yours and the rest of us. Enjoy!