A beginner's guide: All Things Plants

A beginner's guide: All Things Plants

Written by Caroline S. Benoudiz on April 7, 2018

A beginner’s guide: All Things PLANTS (OK, maybe not all… but at least some)

We consider ourselves ‘gardening-dummies-in-training’, which is why we found this basic info SO helpful. We know the plant world is much, MUCH more than this, but hopefully this ‘lil guide will get you going in the right direction.

Annuals vs. Perennials

This has to do with life expectancy: Annuals grow in spring, and die in winter. Whereas Perennials grow in spring, die during the winter, and then sprout again the following spring, and so on.

Once you choose what kind to grow, the variety is endless: Check out this useful website for more info.

Image source: Whitetail Institute (HEHE)


These woody, leafy plants range in size from small to VERY big, and according to their species they can get as big as a tree. They also can live anywhere between 10 years to 100 years (if you, and your predecessors for that matter, have a respectable green thumb). However, since they take such a long time to grow into a ‘marketable’ size (think: Years), they tend to be really expensive. When buying these plants, you should keep in mind that their size is what you’re paying for, which basically just means: The bigger the pricier. Duh!

Image source: Gardening Know How


The optimal size of a container-grown tree is 15 gallons. This is because, while providing a good size for you to plant it in your home, it also allows for its fast growth. All the while being moderately priced in comparison to bigger container-grown trees.

The cheapest way to buy trees, however, is getting the bare roots. This way they are dug out straight from the fields while still dormant, and sold at just-the-right-time for its growth, which allows their roots to spread out even more because they never had any previous constrain.

Note: You’re going to want to get these at a respectable Garden Center

Image source: Home Caprice

Retail Plants: Local nursery vs. ‘big-box’ retailers            

When buying grown-plants, you’re going to get them in one of two places: Local garden centers/shops or ‘big-box’ retailers (such as Home Depot or

Local nurseries (aka Garden Centers) are always the ‘better’ choice because these gardens are generally managed by genuine plant breeders that have vast knowledge on their plants, have a wider variety of plants that can range from the common, to the rare, to the very, very exotic. Also, since they buy their seeds from specialty growers, and also give them all the love and caring they deserve, the prices at Garden Centers tend to be on the higher side. Quick-tip: If you can be extra-charming to your local gardener, you might get some sweet discounts when making a big purchase!

Good for buying: Trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials.

Image source: Garden Treasures Farm

Big-box retailers, on the other hand, can have better pricing because they buy in bulk from not-so-special growers. They also don’t have the ultra wide variety you can find at your local GC, but if you’re planning on buying simple, low-maintenance plants (such as annuals or perennials), you can give them a shot and save a few bucks. If you’re buying here, try shopping early in the season while making sure you buy the freshly-arrived plants. You can do this by special-ordering them, or simply finding out when their deliveries are.

Good for buying: Annuals and perennials. For trees and shrubs watch out for dry, dense, or distorted roots.

*Sidenote: If you are interested in getting organically-grown seeds or plants from environmentally friendly gardening farms, you should do some research about your local GCs before you get your hands dirty. Needless to say, you should probably steer clear from the big-box retailers.

Image source: Techno Buffalo

If all things fail and you still want to get some greens around your house, we suggest you look into these (which are pretty much un-killable... and if you do end up killing them, you should probably stick to fakesies)

-       Succulents

-       Philodendron

-       Boston Fern

-       Jade Plant

-       Snake Plant

-       Bromeliad

-       Dracaena

-       Kalanchoe

-       Photos Plant

-       Aloe Plant

-       Shamrock Plant

Image source: VKV Visuals

Things to know before you commit to your plants (which coincidentally also applies to committing with significant others)

-       Know who YOU are: Figure out how much time and effort you are willing to give. Some plants (S.Os) can be very demanding while others can be more low-key, and your willingness to commit to either or is none but yours. Much like our lovers, sometimes we find plants along the way that just aren’t made to be with us. But fear not: By making informed, fact-based decisions you will eventually find one we can actually commit to. And in the case of plants, hopefully many.

-       Get learned: Now that you know what you’re willing to put in the table, take your time in thinking about what type of plants (or partners) you want to get. Then do some research about them. Nothing cray cray (stalker alert), but just enough to know if you can keep up or not. Find out their bare necessities, and their upkeep requirements. In the case of plants this can be as simple as knowing their optimal weather and necessary light/water intake. In the case of men, the variables can be practically endless. Sorry, not much to do here.

-       Find out their fully-grown size before you commit: This is basically so that you don’t end up with a gigantic plant that you have absolutely no room for. Pretty self-explanatory.

-       Just ‘cuz it’s local don’t mean it is optimal: Just because you found someone at your go-to bar, doesn’t mean he/she will be the one for you. Much like it, some local gardens carry plants that aren’t suitable for your climate. Find all  you need to know about it on this very user-friendly encyclopedia. Unfortunately, no mating-encyclopedia exists to our knowledge. *In which case, if you happen to know about one, please do share!

-       Get familiar with the sun exposure in your home throughout the day: This will come in handy when you are deciding on plants that require tons of daylight vs plants that require almost none. This point doesn’t necessarily relate to partners, but we’ve seen some things…

-       Last but NOT least: Is it pet friendly? And if so, to which? We think this is pretty much a deal-breaker right here.

-       For a neat plant-inspection guide check out this link. Sadly, no partner inspection guide either.          

Happy plantin!

Image source: Stock Photo

Green-thumb sites, shops & books we LOVE

GARDEN.ORG   All you need to know about plants and how to care for them. Enough said.

GARDENING FOR DUMMIES There is a dummies for everything, obviously. This is a simplified guide to getting our toes in the gardening waters. You can access the info online, or buy the book for your reading pleasure.

AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PLANTS AND FLOWERS  This huge book it’s basically the gardening bible. If you can only buy on thing, this should probably be it. It covers errthing.

THE PLANT ENCYCLOPEDIA  The online version (unrelated source), if you’re not that into books (also, FREE)

BETTER HOME & GARDENS PLANT ENCYCLOPEDIA  An alternative to the one above, this one has a really cool search-engine tool that lets you browse thousands of plants by type, size, seasons, and even colors. Just PERFECT!

MOTHER EARTH NEWS Dubbed itself as the ‘original guide to living wisely’ MEN is precisely that. This website is much more holistic than the others in that it also covers topics such as renewable energy, organic good, natural health, DIY projects and, to our surprise, real estate (?). Has great articles though!

CROCUS A one-stop-shop for all your gardening needs. Even if you’re not fond of buying plants on-line, it can be a useful tool to narrow down the infinite world of plants by your specific needs. And, you can also find really nice tools, accessories, pots, planters. Pretty much everything and anything you can think of.

URBAN FARMER Just like the one above, this one has you need in the world of plants, herbs, fruits, flowers, etc. It also offers great guides, tips and how-tos.

GARDENISTA Another one-stop-shop. This is the hippie sister-site of the famous Remodelista sourcebook/online-shopping website. It offers a lot of inspiration trends, informative articles, DIY project ideas, and a more curated, design-inclined variety of items. Enter with caution: You will get sucked in for hours and hours.


For more cool indoor plant ideas we love follow our 'The Great Indoor/Outdoor' board on Pinterest

For more cool outdoor plant ideas our 'Outdor + Beyond' board  on Pinterest

A beginner's guide: All Things Plants
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