Published on 04/03/01

Gardening Problems? 'Talk' to Your Plants

Will you face the same gardening problems you had last year? Probably so: water shortages, heat, diseases, insects and those ever-present weeds.

To counteract all of these problems, ask the plants what they think. They will answer you.

  1. Are you happy where you are? No? What do you need?
  2. What's bugging you?
  3. Are you a Georgia plant, or do you wish you were back North (or down in Miami, or under the Big Sky, or over in Seattle)?
  4. Are you feeling a bit moldy, or are you thirsty all the time? Do you need sunscreen, or are you yearning for the light?
  5. Are your feet comfy, or is the ground just too hard?
'Listen,' Too

If you "ask" your plants, then listen to them. Once your plants have told you what they need, respond! And ask yourself:

  1. Do I have the right plant? If it's a tomato plant and I've had problems with nematodes in the past, do I have a tomato resistant to nematodes? One that is resistant to diseases? Did I buy a really healthy transplant? Am I trying to grow a plant that is not adapted to Georgia conditions?
  2. Do I have it in the right place? Do I have a plant growing under shady conditions that needs 8 hours of sun? Do I have a rosemary herb that needs well-drained soil planted in a heavy clay area that stays wet? Is there enough air movement to dry the foliage quickly to keep disease down?
  3. Do I have it under the right conditions? Did I test my soil for pH and fertility? Have I underlimed or overfertilized? Is the plant in a place in the landscape where it will get too much water from irrigation or not enough?
Responsible Gardener

Be a responsible gardener. Talk to your plants. Walk through your landscape and question them. Allow their input. Observe closely what they have to say.

They usually indicate readily the state of things down in the garden.

Wayne McLaurin is a professor emeritus of horticulture with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.