Gardening with John Gabriele

It must be said that plants grow well when we pay attention to detail and this means considering the basic requirements for plant growth.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

This refers to light, moisture, nutrients, temperature, gases, space, and support.

Understanding what each plant requires in relation to these needs goes a long way to plant success.

Light is required by plants to undertake the process of photosynthesis.

Plants are what we term as autotrophs, which means they are capable of converting carbon dioxide, moisture and nutrients into sugars and carbohydrates to promote growth through the conversion of light energy from the sun.

It stands to reason then that all plants require access to sunlight to photosynthesise but it's not that simple.

Different plants require different light intensities.

Some prefer low light such as many indoor plants and others require high light levels or full sun exposure to maximise growth such as many fruiting plants and vegetable crops.

Temperature is often analogues to light levels, the higher the light levels, the higher the temperature.

As we progress towards spring the increase in temperature is congruent with the increase in both light intensity and duration which results in increased growth.

This is where all the requirements for plant growth come into play collectively, as plants will not grow effectively if one requirement is out of balance.

This might all sound very confusing but basically if we take into consideration all the plant growth requirements, success is guaranteed, well almost.


The challenge for gardeners is to find the right balance in providing these plant growth requirements collectively.

The key to gardening success is to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of each plant species being grown.

That way decisions can be made on providing the correct location to achieve optimum light levels.

Renovating soils with correct ameliorants such as composts, manures, lime or fertilisers ensures appropriate nutrient availability and adequate support for the plants' root systems.

Just as important is when and how much to irrigate, and spacing plants adequately to allow for growth without competition.

It might appear that trying to provide plants with the basics can be a challenge but fortunately plants are quite forgiving and adaptive to many variables.

Greater degrees of gardening success are more likely when you select plants to suit the environmental conditions and soil type, rather than trying to modify those conditions.

But where is the fun in that?

This story There's more to gardening than just watering the plants first appeared on The Canberra Times.