May 22, 2022

The arrival of spring brings many seasonal delights to Waterloo Region. It signals the end of long Canadian winters, the beginning of warm weather, and many spring activities. One of the most popular, is gardening.

A group of pink waxed begonias. Photo by Abbie Galloway.

Gardening can be daunting for beginners who are not quite sure where to start. For students, the benefits of developing this skill are vast.

The height of exam season is now a reality for students at Conestoga College. Many students are feeling the pressure of handing in final assignments, preparing for exams, and some are even set to graduate by the end of this semester. These demands can be stressful and overwhelming, but gardening is a great way to alleviate that stress.

“Everything feels a bit heavier this time of year for students,” said Alexyss Jarvis, associate of Belgian Nursery and first-year student at St. Lawrence College. “It’s easy to fold under the millions of responsibilities.”

Jarvis, who has worked at Belgian Nursery for just shy of a year, says her newfound passion for gardening has given her a healthy outlet to ease her stress.

“It’s great because I feel like I’m still doing something productive instead of numbing myself with TV or social media,” said Jarvis. “Watching your plants make progress and being able to care for something feels really relaxing. (It is) fairly inexpensive for students to pick up as well.”

Gardening can encourage you to be more patient and it’s a skill you can always make more progress on. It’s low stakes if you’re not a natural when you’re first starting out. Chances are you won’t be, and that’s okay. Here’s five tips to help you get started on your gardening journey.

Start with beginner level plants

It may not be wise to dive right in and try to maintain your own bonsai tree. Some plants will be easier to care for than others and you should take note of this when buying your first. Most succulents and cacti require minimal amounts of water and lots of sunlight. Jarvis recommends a Golden Barrel Cactus or the Snake Plant.

Don’t try to manage too many plants at once

Upon walking into a nursery or garden centre, it can be tempting to grab every plant that looks pretty or interesting. Resist this urge. Try to find two or three plants that would make a nice addition in your home. This will help you give the best care possible to your plants.

Do your research

Now that you’ve bought a couple plants to care for, make sure you know what each plant requires to survive. There is no textbook care ritual for any given plant; each one has their own criteria for what they do and don’t like. OurHouseplants.com is a great resource to get the basics for a wide variety of plants. But remember, you will learn over time what is best for your plants. Pay attention and it will come naturally.

Don’t get discouraged

It can be disappointing to give your all to the well-being of a plant when it doesn’t survive. This is normal and sometimes plants just don’t survive. There could be several factors why your plant may have died. It could be your environment or that you’ve simply chosen a picky plant. Take it on the chin and remember that failure is a necessity of learning.

Invest in products that will encourage plant growth

While sunlight and water are the two most important factors for your plant, there are many other products that can improve the quality of your plants. Quality soil is always a good place to start. Jarvis recommends Pro-Mix Premium Tropical Plant Mix because it is peat-based and is optimal for moisture retention. You may also consider purchasing some eucalyptus oil for your plants, which comes in handy for repelling insects.

Gardening can be tough to get the hang of, but worth it considering the rewards you will reap. Consider learning this skill if you’re hoping to relieve some stress, or simply looking for a new hobby.

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