From peppers to pansies: spring gardening tips for beginners

Nursing sophomore Carolina Tripp’s pothos houseplant sits on her desk alongside other plants.

Following the extreme winter weather last month, many Texans are looking forward to the sunshine and buds of new life that come with the warmth of spring and summer.

Whether you’re a beginner or already have a green thumb, here are some recommendations from the UTA community on plants anyone can grow this spring.

Peppers 

From jalapeños to banana peppers, Wendy Pappas, city of Arlington urban forest and land manager, said most peppers are easy to grow for gardening beginners. 

Peppers can be grown in pots or in garden beds. When planting in pots, Pappas said it’s important to get good potting soil from a garden center instead of using plain dirt. 

But if you want to plant them in a garden bed, she said the best way is to mix compost and till the bed before planting.

Pansies

Architecture freshman Alicia Salinas recommended pansies.

Salinas, who used to work at Lowe’s, said these flowers require a lot of sunlight and should be watered every other day. You can leave them outside and not worry too much about them, she said.

Best of all, they’re full of color, which is great for the spring.

Tomatoes 

Early to mid-March is a good time for planting tomatoes, Pappas said.

For beginners, cherry tomatoes would be a good choice, but if you wanted to try regular tomatoes, those aren’t too difficult as long as they have plenty of water, she said.

Pappas recommended planting tomatoes with other pollinator plants. That’ll help attract more bees and butterflies to pollinate the tomatoes, she said. Some examples of pollinator flowers are hyacinths and snapdragons.

In the height of summer, tomatoes usually stop growing and start to look pitiful, Pappas said. At that point, it’s OK to start cutting the plant back until there are only a few green leaves left.

But don’t worry, because in the fall when the temperature drops, the plant will pick back up and start producing again, Pappas said.

Pothos

An easy houseplant that nursing sophomore Carolina Tripp likes are pothos, which have leaves shaped like a green teardrop.

She said pothos require very little attention and don’t need much light. Students have so much to worry about already, so having a finicky plant isn’t ideal.

Luckily, with pothos you can probably get by watering them about once a week, she said. But if you forget, they’re really dramatic plants and will let you know they need to be watered by drooping.

Tripp said eventually the plant can start to grow a vine that you can use to decorate your space. It’ll either just hang down, or you can have them climb onto something, and it’s a great way to brighten up a room with some green or get fresh oxygen, she said.

Hibiscus 

If you want to grow something pretty, Pappas recommends growing hibiscus.

Flowering hibiscus is good for the summertime and can be potted and sat out on a sunny balcony for those living in an apartment. Pappas said ceramic and terra cotta are best when choosing a pot.

“They’re so pretty to look at, it kind of makes you happy when you go out there and you see these big, huge flowers,” she said.

@aivylinaa

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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