Earlier this year I got it into my head that I was going to try my hand at gardening. The funny thing about it is that I have no green thumb whatsoever so the idea to pick up this new hobby was completely random. To add to the challenge, Vegas is not a very hospitable place for planting. Nevertheless I had made up my mind and after consulting a few websites, some gardening books, and the in-laws I set to work.
Gardening in this desert proved to be the exact challenge I expected it to be but I eventually got the hang of it. The secret to effective gardening is lots of patience and trial and error. It’s also important to know your environment. What types of plants do well in your area and when best to plant them. Not only did I have to find what kinds of plants thrive in Las Vegas but I had to assess the area (my patio) where I was planting them. I quickly realized that you have to pay close attention to your gardening space. My patio is shaded during the spring months but as the light shifts during the summer my patio receives increased direct sunlight. This means that a few of the plants I planted requiring partial shade eventually withered and died once summer hit.
So what’s in my garden now? Well, I’ve got two planting troughs filled with vinca mix (a form of carnation) and mondo grass. I planted these back in June because Home Depot advertised they were heat and drought tolerant. It gets extremely hot, dry, and windy in Vegas during the summer months. A combination that tends to destroy anything that’s not a cactus. However, once the vinca and mondo grass took they thrived pretty well. I had a night-blooming jasmine tree that I planted in February but it began to dry out mid-August. Since then I’ve replaced it with a confederate jasmine, which is a vine instead of a tree and much more hardy. I only have one indoor plant, a croton. It’s very low maintenance and its leaves are multicolored, matching the pot I placed it in. I also have an asparagus fern I took to my office at work. I’m extremely excited about what I’ve been able to grow thus far. Most of my plants are perennials, meaning that they last for a few years, so I’m anxious to see what they will look like come next spring.
Helpful Tips I’ve Picked up
Gardening is about the cheapest hobby anyone can do. Unless you plan on landscaping an entire yard, the average you’re going to spend is anywhere between $10-$20. One can often find plants in bulk on sale and gardening tools are inexpensive. The most I’ve spent was $45, $35 of which was a ceramic flower pot.
I found a natural, eco-friendly insecticide that can be made at home. It’s very effective. Just mix the following in a gallon of water and spray on plants:
5 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of baking soda
4 tablespoons of dish soap
There is no real difference between buying plants at a nursery versus a chain store such as Home Depot or Lowe’s. I’ve found that the quality of plants are about the same, the price difference minimal. A nursery may have some plants that a chain store doesn’t carry. My preference is to purchase my plants at Home Depot. They tend to be much hardier than at our local nurseries.
Learned that vines can be trained to grow along railings and trellises. Once set,they naturally wrap themselves around their supporting structure. It’s kinda cool to watch my jasmine vine growing along my patio railing.
Sphagnum moss is the best thing ever!!! I bought some and mixed it in with my jasmine vine and croton. Not only does it keep plants moist but it has a lot of nutrients so they grow fairly quickly. I don’t have to water my plants as often and the moss protects them from the dry heat. The best thing is that the moss is pretty, hiding the dirt in flower pots.