The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

94° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Getting down and dirty in the garden

    Ah, spring: the season of love, sunshine and flowers blossoming. And then, as quickly as it makes its appearance, spring leaves us and ushers in the blistering heat of summer for the next six sweltering months.

    If you’re looking for the best way to squeeze out that springtime feeling as long as possible, keeping yourself surrounded by bright and colorful blossoms is a fantastic solution. For newcomers, gardening might seem like a messy activity best left to Ag students. But with a few pointers, even those born without a green thumb can learn to appreciate the joys of gardening.

    Release Your Stress in the Soil

    It turns out Grandma may have been on to something when she was potting those petunias. A recent Journal of Horticulture study by Patrick Millet, suggests that gardening helps reduce symptoms of burnout, fatigue, and stress ð- ailments that sound all too familiar to college students.

    “”It has been scientifically documented that looking at pretty flowers and plants elevates your mood and increases your concentration,”” said Trudy Jacobson. “”They add a lot of cheer, and they clean the air. There is just everything good about them,”” said Jacobson, who owns The Rocky J Succulent Ranch. The next time life gets a bit stressful, try gardening as a healthy way to relieve your stress.

    Where To Start

    Even those who have never wielded a spade before can successfully start a garden.

    Jacobson recommends that first-time gardeners start with cacti and succulents, which are easy to maintain.

    “”They love the heat, and need very little water. These are the plants that actually love neglect. They like to get really dry before you water them,”” she said.

    “”The best thing to do is to feel the dirt – if the dirt is bone dry, then you water it. If it’s the least little bit moist, don’t. Quite frankly, the only way to kill a succulent is to overwater it.”” Jacobson notes that most of her customers love Zebra succulents, because of their vibrant white and green stripes.

    Those who are more ambitious can try their hand at more delicate, colorful flowers. The desert marigold and blackfoot daisy are both excellent choices for Arizona’s dry climate. Even exotic Hibiscus – the vibrant blooms spattered on Hawaiian shirts – grow well in the desert, provided that they receive some shade during the day. As a general rule, prepare the potting area by digging a hole twice the size of the plant’s roots to allow room for growth.

    Aside from the lovely visual aspect of growing a garden, it has its more practical uses. If you find yourself shelling out loads of cash on organic produce at Whole Foods, you may want to consider growing your own food instead. Citrus plants thrive in the desert, as well as avocados and tomatoes. Orange and grapefruit trees will do better with a bit more space; but tomato, herb and strawberry plants are perfectly sized for dorm room windowsills.

    Getting Started

    1) Choose a container at least twice the size of your plants’ roots.

    2) Place plant in your container; set in an area where natural sunlight enters the room. Fill container with soil until roots are completely covered.

    3) Water vegetables and flowers every 5 days; succulents and cacti only when soil is completely dry.

    Top Picks for Gardening Beginners


    • Marigolds
    • Daisies
    • Hibiscus
    • Germaniums

    Cacti & Succulents:

    • Mother-In-Law’s Tongue
    • Lucky Bamboo
    • Zebra Succulent

    Tucson Nurseries

    Plants for the Southwest

    50 E. Blacklidge Dr.

    (520) 628-8773

    Desert Survivors Native

    Plant Nursery

    1020 W. Starr Pass Blvd.

    (520) 791-9309

    Harlow Gardens Nursery

    5620 E. Pima St.

    (520) 298-3303

    The Magic Garden Nursery

    7909 E. 22nd St.

    (520) 885-7466

    More to Discover
    Activate Search