Home Gardening for Beginners: What to Plant in Houston



Gardening professionals share their top tips and essentials for growing a thriving garden.

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Heather Stickell, Chief Design Officer, Hearst

There is nothing more exciting than planting a garden from scratch. Very little compares to the thrill of watching the seeds and soil become a bed of fresh vegetables or fragrant flowers in full bloom! The possibilities are endless, but so are the questions of how to get started.

We asked three Houston-area green gardening gurus for tips on how aspiring gardeners can avoid rookie mistakes, get through the Texas heat, and find the best seeds and plants in town. We think you’ll ‘dig in’ what they had to say.

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Your edible garden awaits you

Submitted by: Karena Poke

Karena poke@LettuceLiveUrbanFarmKaren Poke is the founder of Lettuce Live, an urban farm project dedicated to educating and inspiring Houstonians to lead healthy lives. Karen is a master gardener with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program.

Not many people can say that they are a master gardener, but Karena Poke is not most people. As the founder of Lettuce Live, she leads a team of designers who work with budding planters to build edible gardens that promote the accessibility of fresh fruits and vegetables in city communities.

To help you get started with planting your own edible garden, Karen has some simple tips that any beginning gardener can follow.

Karena’s expert advice for new gardeners

1. Take the floor seriously

Good quality soil or compost is the most important investment. Keep your soil covered with leaves or untreated mulch. This will help the soil to retain moisture while keeping weeds and grass away.

2. Plant in sight

Place your garden in a visible and accessible location. If your garden is out of sight, it is out of sight. Plant your vegetable garden in a sunny location to make sure your vegetables get the recommended 6 hours of sunlight per day.

3. Take out your calendar

Grow the right foods for the right season. Plant your vegetables according to the schedule in your local extensions plant guide.

For starters, Karena suggests purchasing your plants from the local extension office to find vegetation preselected based on its ability to thrive in the Houston climate. To further improve the health of your plants, she suggests purchasing organic soil or compost.

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Local Resource: The Best Garden Centers in Houston

Growing plants in a raised bed

Submitted by: Krista Baldwin

Krista baldwin@baldwinbloomsKrista Baldwin is an avid gardener, engineer and mother of two young daughters. She enjoys gardening in raised beds and planting crops year round.

If you think it takes an expert to grow a vegetable garden, then meet Krista – an everyday Houstonian whose backyard is filled with four raised beds overflowing with ripe produce. When asked why she loves gardening, Krista explains, “I love that there is always something to learn in the garden and in the garden. [feeling of] achievement when growing flowers and vegetables from seeds.

Krista’s gardening tips come with years of research, time, patience, and a lot of experience.

Krista’s daily tips for new gardeners

1. Attract bees

In addition to your vegetables, be sure to plant flowers that will attract pollinators and add color to your garden.

2. Do your research before you plant

In Houston, many spring vegetables need to be planted in late February or early March to ripen before temperatures start to rise. Now is the time to plant eggplants, sweet corn, summer squash, and winter squash for fall harvest.

3. Know your enemy

Pests will always find their way into your garden. Plan ahead by looking for common pests like aphids, leaf bugs, cucumber beetles, squash moth and spider mites.

Krista recommends using raised gardens to better manage the quality of your soil and your growing environment. For recommendations on sourcing your plants and supplies, she recommends The native plants of Buchanan in the heights and Enchanted gardens in Richmond. If you are starting your garden from scratch, she suggests buying seeds online from Botanical interests, Baker Creek, Where Johnny’s.

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Find Your Nearest Local Nursery: Houston’s Best Garden Centers

Green and hearty

Submitted by: Chasaty Rainer
Submitted by: Chasaty Rainer
Chasaty Rainer@blackgirlgardensofficialChasaty Rainer is a passionate gardener by choice and a critical care nurse by profession. Growing up in rural Texas, her great-grandmother taught her everything she knows about gardening. Today, she shares her wisdom and love for horticulture on her Black Girl Gardens platform.

For Chasaty Rainer, gardening isn’t a hobby, it’s a way of life. “Nothing is so comforting to my soul as planting a seed, nurturing it, and watching it become the same food that nourished my ancestors,” she warmly proclaims. Her favorite plants to grow are mammoth sunflowers and okra, two plants that thrive in the heat and humidity of Houston.

If you are wondering how to balance the demands of a career with the aspirations of a bountiful harvest, Chasaty is the one for you.

Chasaty’s must-have tips for new gardeners

1. Start small

When planting vegetables, plant the varieties you love to eat to avoid waste and ensure sustained enthusiasm throughout the growing process.

2. Limit your enthusiasm

The most common mistake new gardeners make is overplanting. When a variety of plants are rooted in a space that does not adapt well to their growth, your vegetables will compete for space and resources in the soil, resulting in weak or dying plants.

3. Possess Your zone

Plant things that are native to your farming area. Your garden will flourish when you work to the rhythm of nature. Your environment determines what you can grow and when.

When asked where to find the best plants in Houston, Chasaty recommends shopping at local producers and greenhouses. “They usually carry plants that are already used to our climate. “

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Find a local producer near you, with our interactive map of The best garden centers in Houston.

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Erin Creeks is the User Generated Content Coordinator for Chron Shopping at Hearst Newspapers. Email him at erin.creeks@hearst.com.


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