How to Grow Beautiful Things!

S I M P L E    T I P S    F O R    B E G I N N E R S

If you're a beginner gardener, aspiring houseplant expert or just want a few blooms or vegetables for your table, the whole process can seem very intimidating at first. I'd encourage anyone to start small, give it a try and use these few basics for success. The beauty and wonder of watching something grow is much greater than any fear of failure.


1. SOIL | Give your plant nutritious soil and room to grow
2. LIGHT | Choose a spot where there is the right amount of light for your plant
3. WATER | Keep your plant moist (know how much your plant wants,
some like to be a little dry like succulents and houseplants)
4. FOOD | Feed your plants with fertilizer as needed
5. MAINTENANCE | Maintain your plants by weeding, pinching,
deadheading, staking and pest control

s c r o l l    t o    b o t t o m    f o r
Tips for Houseplants
Favorite Easy to Grow Flowers



S O I L   

Your soil is what gives the plant nutrition and encourages roots to grow.

G R O U N D | The more nutrition you have in your soil the better your plant will do. This is the reason that plants do their best when planted in the ground - they have more nutrition, more room to stretch out their roots (and the more the roots can grow, the more the plant will grow). It is also a lot easier to keep plants moist there as the ground holds more moisture than a pot will and you don't have to worry about overwatering when you have good soil drainage. If your soil lacks nutrients or is claylike and doesn't drain well, sow compost or organic matter like manure before planting (you can buy a cheap soil kit at a garden center and test it to know exactly what it needs if you like). Work the ground by tilling until fine before planting - this makes it easier for plants to take root. Plant when ground is moist but not soggy, usually a day or two after a rain or heavy watering. Water plants deeply after planting (with exception of dahlia tubers which should be planted when soil is slightly moist, but not watered until leaves emerge as they are susceptible to rot). If planting seeds directly, cover lightly with soil or on top of soil if light is required and water very lightly as to not wash them away. Keep the soil lightly moist until sprouted. 

P O T S | For those who don't have access to ground planting, there are still many ways to be successful with potted plants. One of my favorites is the beautiful displays of overflowing flowers they can provide. When planting in a pot, choose one as big as is manageable for you for the most room to grow and moisture retention (less watering). Fill the pot with good potting soil (it is best to buy new each year instead of reusing as the nutrients will be used up seasonally).  Mix soil with water in a separate container until it is moist but not dripping wet. Place in pot and plant. (Trying to water dry soil after planting can be messier and harder to measure as the soil shrinks when wet). 



Aim for a flat spot with your plant's light requirements

I N C L I N E | The best place for a garden is a flat spot where your soil won't wash out over time and that has good drainage (avoid spots that flood or hold water for more than a couple hours in wet seasons). If you live on a hill or a spot with very poor soil, a great solution is a raised bed.

S U N | Choose a spot appropriate to your plants needs. Most annual flowers and vegetables require full sun which is at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. Others will only flourish in part-shade or shade like tuberous begonia and impatiens. You can see the light requirements on the back of the plants label. If you see that your plant is leaning a certain way, it is because it is not in direct sun and is reaching for light. If using a pot on your porch or in the window, just rotate your pot ever week or two for even growth.



Don't overwater pots and generally, water deeply instead of frequently.

Watering can be a tricky thing to master in gardening but once get the basics, it's pretty easy to understand. Some plants need more water than others and some like to dry out partially before being re-watered.

G R O U N D |  Plants in the ground will develop deep roots in times of dryness to search out moisture deeper so less watering is required. When you don't have plenty of rain, water your plants by hand. Invest in a rain gauge to see that you garden gets at least 1 inch of water weekly. You can also check the soil to see if there is moisture in the top 6 inches of dirt - if not, it is time to water. Likewise, when you water by hand - it is better to water deeply less often than less more often. Try to soak the soil to 6 inches deep. New plants need more frequent watering. Soil should be kept consistently moist until roots are established; usually daily watering for a couple weeks. 

P O T S |  For heavy feeders like petunias, I would recommend having a tray for the bottom that will catch water instead of letting it drain out. This will allow the moisture to be retained better and let it keep feeding for a day or two. Water deeply, as needed, until water runs out of bottom instead of a little every day. In summer when it is hot, these heavy feeders may dry out daily in which you should water deeply daily. I like to place these kind of pots outside in areas that catch rainfall so I only have to water in dry periods. Watch that during heavy rain periods that your pot's tray is not full of water for more than a day, if so, empty the tray.

For those plants that don't like too much moisture, like houseplants, choose a pot that has holes on the bottom and can drain. Check the soil with your finger and see if the top two inches are moist, if not you can water. You can also learn to know how heavy the pot is when wet or dry. 

G E N E R A L | Try to aim for the root of the plant when watering as opposed to wetting the leaves. It is best to water in the morning or evening so the majority of the water soaking into the ground instead of evaporating, however it will not harm your plants to water them in the sun. See this great list of Watering Myths here



Plants need a consistent supply of nutrients to stay healthy and full. If your ground soil has good nutrition, especially if you sowed in compost or organic matter, your plants should have plenty of nutrition for the summer. However, you may fertilize as well to encourage even more growth. Some plants require more nutrition than others. If you are growing in pots the nutrients in the potting soil will eventually be used up and you will need to fertilize. You can use a powder fertilizer like Miracle Gro to add to your water or a liquid concentrate like Monty's. Fertilize pots and ground (if needed) once every 7-14 days. Follow instructions on your fertilizer.  



There are several little things you can do to help your plant to flourish

W E E D I N G |  Keeping weeds under control will ensure that your plants roots aren't being choked out. The best time to weed is a day after a good rain or water watering when the soil is moist and you can pull out weeds easily, root and all - which is your goal. You can keep weeds at bay by putting first a thin layer of straw, then  a 2-4" layer of grass clippings (try to use clippings without weeds, especially flowering weeds which hold seeds) or mulch on the ground and around your plants. This is also helpful for moisture retention. Doing this, eliminates weeding for me! I add an extra layer of grass halfway through the summer, adding it around plant stems once they are established. If you prefer to till your soil around your plants throughout the growing season, you can place grass clippings around the base of the plant where the tiller doesn't reach. 

P I N C H I N G | Pinching benefits many plants! When plants are starting, once it has developed 4-6 leaves, pinch down to the second set of leaves to encourage other stems to branch out from base, forming a much stronger, and bigger plant. Similarly, for vegetables like tomatoes you can pinch off the flowers it forms until the plant gets significantly large and then allow the flowers to grown and form tomatoes. Doing the same for basil will encourage plant growth. (A plant gives it's energy to its flowers or fruit, so if you pinch them it will give it's energy to the plant and grow bigger which will then provide you with more flowers or fruit). (However, for some plants like corn you want to pinch off everything but base stem so that one strong stem emerges). 

S T A K I N G | Some plants, despite pinching, will need staking once they reach a certain height (snapdragons, dahlias, sunflowers, gladiolus). Stake up with a metal pole and tie string (I use clear fish line) around the plant to the pole. It's better to stake before the plant needs it so that you don't find long, hard earned stems fallen over and breaking off. 

D E A D H E A D I N G | For most annual flowering plants, remove spent flowers to encourage more flowers to develop. If you don't, the plant will give it's energy to the dead flower head to develop seeds instead of forming new flowers. This works for some perennials like salvia too - in which you should remove all flowers on plant once most are browning (around the end of June in Ohio) and expect a new flush in about two weeks. The secret to keeping those overflowing petunia and calibrachoa pots nice all season long is to pinch off dead blooms (not just pulling out flower from head but pinching the head where the green part is) and giving the whole plant a trim halfway through the season. I like to trim all vines back to the pot in mid July in Ohio.

P E S T   C O N T R O L | If you see that your plant leaves or flowers are being eaten by bugs use Seven dust or a similar product to get rid of them. Sprinkle over plant after every rain or once dust has faded. 


E A S Y    T O    G R O W

H o u s e p l a n t s

every houseplant is unique, when choosing find out it's requirements (light, soil, water, humidity & fertilization needs).

houseplants generally like indirect light, minimal watering and humidity. water when top of soil is dry to the touch, don't overwater.  if your home is dry, you can mist plants by placing in shower or with spray bottle. fertilize according to plants need (usually once a month, do not over fertilize). if insides of leaves are browning, plant starts to lose color or wilt and soil is wet, it is likely getting too much water. if the edges of leaves are browning and soil is dry, it is likely not getting enough humidity or water. if leaves are yellowing it is likely not getting enough light, don't forget to rotate pots towards light periodically.

  • Ferns
  • Angel Plants (plants that thrive on little or indirect light)
  • Succulents (desert plants, they like to be especially dry, be careful not to overwater. give them as much sun as possible. do very well outside on patio in full sun). 
  • Fiddle Leaf (Tips here)

A n n u a l    F l o w e r s

plant after last threat of frost in garden or flower beds in full sun. give 1 inch of water per week. repeat bloomers - clipping blooms will encourage continuous blooming all summer. all can be direct seeded except (snapdragon, eucalyptus & dusty miller). put seeds in soil and watch them grow! click on flower names to see examples and places to buy.

m a i n

  • Zinnia
  • Cosmos
  • Sunflower
  • Dahlia (Follow these few rules and you'll have success: 1. don't plant till ground has reached 50 F at night (after Memorial Day is safe in Ohio) 2. plant in moist but not sopping soil and don't water again until leaves emerge (they are susceptible to rot) 3. place stakes in while plants are still small and attach as it is growing). 

f i l l e r

g r e e n


I hope this was helpful to you!
I know that there were so many things that I didn't know when I began gardening that seemed apparent to others. Inevitably, as you grow, you will learn. Throw a couple things in the ground, don't put pressure on yourself and enjoy the results!

Happy growing & may your life always have flowers!

Love Shyla

Tuesday Journal | Thoughts As a Newlywed

Hey Friends, It's been a little while as I took a short break from blogging for wedding planning season (floral business prep) and am jumping in again. I am so thankful for the Lord's leading in a time where things could've been busy, that he shows me what to set down for a season. I had a great time curating all of the flowers for each of my brides this year (11), sent out their packages, started the seeds for my garden, set up the greenhouse (first year!), prepped the garden and attended women's bible study at my church! I had a couple weeks off before my first wedding this weekend and feel great and rested enough to sit down and write. How are you? 

A few things that have been on my mind lately.. 

Photo: Kendra Dawn Photography



If you've been following along, I got married last June after waiting very trustingly in the Lord for the husband of my dreams. The Lord taught me a lot during that time and I am so grateful. I don't think I'd have it any other way. When we tied the knot, I was 28 and Wayne 32. It's been nearly 10 months now and I have learned a lot! I jot down thoughts each month from things I learn and have questions for the women in my life now, more than ever. I definitely don't feel like an authority on advice in marriage.. but I thought you might enjoy a couple thoughts as I think I would've before getting married... 

what I wanted
I didn’t wait until later in life to get married in order to enjoy my independence, travel or do what I wanted. Although I did all those things, learned a lot about myself and others and am soo thankful! I waited (& Wayne too) because I wanted to find the right one. I would’ve rather been single than marry just for company. I’d seen average, barely tolerable marriages too often. I wanted someone who was right for me, and a marriage that was a blessing. I got that.. I certainly did, and I thank the Lord for that gift everyday.

what i didn't want
Some of the things that Wayne I didn’t want, was to argue often, or feel like marriage was more hard work than a blessing. A lot of people told us that marriage was hard and you could hear in their voices that they were tired, somewhat dissappointed and accepted that for what it was. We felt there was more than that.

Photo: Kendra Dawn Photography

10 months down the road...
We've been through a few bumps now and I'd still say that marriage is an absolute blessing. There were times when I cried because I felt misunderstood and times when he felt hurt because I stepped on a past pain. And to be honest, that discouraged us for a moment because we were afraid our fears of a struggle-filled marriage might come true. The opposite happened... marriage was not a let down or a source of pain, instead, we experienced (and still are) our hearts were becoming one. We found that misunderstanding and hurt are not where marriage has to lie but becoming one does take intentional effort.

becoming one...
We realized that, if you want to truly share each other’s hearts you have to be willing to “become one.” And that involves conversation, which means being willing to communicate and willing to listen. Though it sounds simple, I think that no matter how developed you are, most people struggle with one or the other. Either expecting the other to understand automatically or needing the patience to search out the situation with the other while they probably don't understand it themselves (often taking a season, not just one conversation). I have learned A LOT about how to do that in GRACE; for myself and my spouse. I have both expected myself to be better and my spouse to understand more. It has been good for me to realize there is usually a reason why I feel a certain way, to give myself credit and to give us both time and grace to figure it out. (I am afraid of being overly emotional so it's easy for me to discount my feelings).

more aware of myself...
I've also learned things about myself that are uglier than I'd have liked to recognize. Yes, becoming one, involves being more self-aware and most times, how to control your own feelings more than changing the other person. If you haven’t learned this as a young person, I’d encourage you to start that process now and just whole-heartedly embrace HUMILITY! ;P (See note below). Some not so lovely things I realized about myself were that, I assume the worst when I feel hurt, I feel entitled to blame in the same situation… and my mind can quickly create things that are NOT TRUE. Whew…we need the Holy Spirit’s help in life. And marriage just reveals that.

marriage is still an amazing blessing...
That in itself, does not mean that marriage is hard. If you have the blessing of being married to someone who is always, always, always willing to work things out, no matter what, these little adjustments don’t have to be a big deal. They might be painful at times, but never as painstaking as worrying that it might be the end. That is a different fear and struggle in itself. (Of course, I believe the God of peace has grace for you too in that situation). If you’re still choosing that person, be sure that that “unquestionable life commitment” is there, it will make ALL the difference in the effort it takes to become one.

Wayne & I still choose see marriage as an amazing BLESSING and I think that makes all the difference. We focus on the positive while trying not to avoid facing things as they come up. I think that if you see marriage as hard, it will be. And if you embrace all the steps it takes to make it work, as worth it, than it won’t be. It’s all in your PERSPECTIVE.

Photo: Kendra Dawn Photography


 I would offer to a young person who is joining his/her life with another:


Try to always keep in the forefront of your mind that the other person, almost always, wants what’s best for you. If they hurt you, they most likely did not mean to. Give them the benefit of the doubt when talking about it, don’t assume the worst until you ask, and try not to get worked up about it beforehand. It will be much easier for your spouse to want to find understanding for you if you’re not blaming or attacking him/ her. And be careful you're not doing this without realizing it (perhaps, ask your spouse how he feels when you talk about your hurt to him/ her). Also, the more you realize this, the more you’ll be able to let the little things go. (You may realize some very ugly issues of self-control. It's ok, go ahead and realize that you are human, apologize to your spouse and let the Lord do his transforming work...  (So many good verses to meditate on for this one: Phil. 4:8, 2 Tim 1:7, Eph. 4:22-32, Matt 15:11, Rom 7:25, 26, Prov. 3:5, Col. 3:2-5)).  

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
— 2 Corinthians 10:5
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
— Romans 12:2
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
— Ephesians 4:29


Realize, that, in this world, you will never be completely understood. We have within us the desire to be, but unfortunately there are reservoirs of our hearts that only God can tap into. The search to be deeply known this way, without realizing it comes from Christ can be a very, very disappointing journey in life that leads to feeling isolated. When we remove this expectation from people, we will begin to allow people into our hearts with the understanding that it is us, who has to let people in. We have to help people understand us, just as God helps us understand ourselves. He is our creator and the only one that can truly hold all of the facets of our hearts.  Let this lead you to Him, you need Jesus deeply, no matter how wonderful of a spouse you have. How wonderful that they cannot fill this need. 

Lord, you have seen what is in my heart. You know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know what I’m thinking even though you are far away. You know when I go out to work and when I come back home. You know exactly how I live. Lord, even before I speak a word, you know all about it. You are all around me. You are behind me and in front of me. You hold me in your power. I’m amazed at how well you know me. It’s more than I can understand... You created the deepest parts of my being. You put me together inside my mother’s body. How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well.
— Psalm 139:1-6, 13, 14

3. GRACE |

"Remember that every time your partner fails or falls short, it is an opportunity for you to minister grace, never for us to 'put them in their place.' " (Dr. Paul David Tripp). We were given each other as ministers of love and just as God graciously forgives our human faults daily, we can do the same with our spouse. Never, will we be “better” than the other or righteous enough to Lord over anyone else. Each of us is as sinful as the other. It is so easy to feel “wronged” “I can’t believe… happened” or “I don’t deserve this.” But, in reality, we all have penalties that we cannot pay and God gives us grace every time. We should do the same, in humility, to our partners. 

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
— Ephesians 3:7

There’s a million pieces of advice that you can read or listen to to prepare you for marriage, but I think the best thing you can do is to work on yourself before hand and with the Holy Spirit’s help, work on marriage with your partner as you go.

One of the best, bible-based pieces of insight that Wayne & I have heard on marriage is a message by Paul David Tripp called: Marriage, What Did You Expect? It neither calls marriage hard work or a boat ride but shares the honest truth about humanity and how to give grace to one another as Christ did. (You can purchase the DVD here, I promise it’s worth the investment).

I realize now more than ever, how much I need Jesus and also how beautiful his love is.

I wish you all, seeking and working on love, to enjoy every minute and let the Lord fill up your heart with his. He is the best teacher.


                                                                                    A newlywed,

Love Shyla