Basil is a warm-weather herb that does best when planted after soil has warmed and there’s no chance of late frost. Following lunar planting schedules, the best time to tuck plants like basil into soil is during the new moon phase.
Gardeners in hardiness zones 9 and warmer can plant freesias in the fall. In other zones, freesias should go into the ground in spring; they’ll need to be dug and stored at the end of the growing season so they don’t perish in the cold. If you don't want to dig them back up, simply start over next year with fresh bulbs (technically, they’re corms). Freesias are usually inexpensive. Plant the corms 2” deep in soil that drains easily, and give them a spot that gets sun to light shade.
Save time – and your back – by placing bulbs, tip end up, on top of the planting bed, then covering with a layer of several inches of soil, instead of digging individual holes for bulbs. Don’t worry if the bulbs tip over; they will work themselves upright.
Arranging plants tightly not only creates a full design, it also helps to shade soil. Plants that grow shoulder to shoulder act like living mulch, helping to suppress weeds and slow water evaporation from soil.
You can plant shrubs and trees right up until the ground freezes, but you’ll have better overwintering in coldest zones if you get plants in before hard frosts arrive. This gives plants an opportunity to strike new roots into soil before serious cold arrives. Remember to water fall planted additions to your landscape until the ground freezes. In regions with mild winters where the ground doesn’t freeze, plan to water new plants through winter during dry spells.
A beautiful lawn makes planting beds sparkle. This bed features a blend of shrubs, perennials and annuals, including Sweet Caroline Bewitched Green with Envy sweet potato vine and Hippo Red and Hippo Rose hypoestes. The planting also includes several ornamental grasses: ‘Fireworks’ variegated fountain grass, ‘Sky Rocket’ purple fountain grass, and Vertigo elephant grass.
Arrange perennials in a new garden prior to planting. If possible, keep pots like this for several days. This allows you to observe the design from several angles and adjust plant position as needed. Just be sure to water pots while they’re in the bed.
To enjoy gladiolus flowers for a longer growing season, practice staggered planting. Tuck individual corms into soil every 5 to 10 days. Be sure to leave space in your planting beds to accommodate subsequent plantings. The result will be non-stop glads all season long.
When winter finally eases its grip on the earth, it’s tempting to run out and work in the garden. But you have to be careful. Working the soil too early, while it’s still soggy from winter rains, can leave big clumps of dirt that are almost impossible to break apart later. Planting too soon can also waste money, because many seeds and plants will perish if the ground is too cold.
Count on canna lily plants to add vertical interest to planting beds. Here, Tropicanna canna lily and Tropicanna Gold canna lily tower over annual flowers red celosia and gold melampodium. Choose annuals with flowers that match the leaf colors of canna lilies for an eye-catching display.
Prior to planting, keep perennials well watered and in the proper amount of sunlight. When planting a perennial garden, don’t hesitate to start with perennials in 4-inch pots. This smaller plant size is cheaper, and plants reach full size in just two years or two growing seasons.
Arrange vegetable gardens in small blocks instead of rows. Watering a block of plants is a more efficient option than spraying water over a long row. Design blocks with a maximum 3-foot width to provide easy reachable access.
Camellia sinensis is the plant you want for growing traditional tea leaves. Dried mature leaves produce black tea; young leaves yield a less acidic brew known as white tea. Allow plants to reach 3 to 5 feet before picking leaves, which you can do twice a year. Prune plants when they’re young to cause branching, which gives you more stems to harvest. Plants are winter hardy in Zones 8-10. Grow them in pots in other zones. Feed tea plants lightly—only in spring.
The coffee plant (Coffee arabica) makes an ideal houseplant, not needing high light to grow and flower. Plants start blooming when three years old and usually in late spring and/or summer. Flowers fade to form green cherry-looking fruit that turns red when ripe. Inside are two coffee beans. In summer, place your coffee plant outdoors, gradually exposing it to sun.