Home Gardeners Need To Learn About Plants

Some gardeners learn about plants from books; others learn by growing lots of different plants and seeing what does and does not survive (Which can be very expensive if you are buying all those plants).
 
The fastest and most cost effective way of learning about plants; and making better choices though; is to do a course.
This may still take some time, but it may result in an established garden years earlier; and huge savings in buying plants.
 
Here are some suggestions for choosing and growing better plants.
 
Only Grow Varieties that are Hardy for you Region
Choose and use only plants which are hardy and unlikely to attract pests or diseases. Most fruits, for example, will attract problems, however blueberries have few pests or diseases, apart from birds, which can be dealt with by covering the plant with a bird net. There are varieties of blueberries that will grow in bold cold and sub tropical climates.
Likewise Feijoa sellowiana (Pineapple Guava) is an attractive, hardy, large shrub or small tree with edible flowers and fruit, that is relatively pest and disease free.
Other plants which have few problems include Loquats, Medlars, Citrus, Banana Passionfruit, Nut trees, Conifers, Melaleucas, Palms, Callistemons, Lomandra, Oleander, Franjapini and Ivy.

Harness insect repellent plants
Plant insect repellent plants in outdoor living areas to help deter flies, mosquitoes, ants & cockroaches.
Most mints will repel a wide range of insects, including ants and mosquitoes, though peppermint and pennyroyal seem the best. Crushed sprigs can be scattered on a table to keep flies away from food, or pieces can be picked and rubbed over the skin to repel mosquitoes.
Tansy will repel flies, if brushed or crushed as will chamomile.
Citrus scented geraniums will repel insects also.
 
Minimise garden pests spreading to homes
Avoid tree branches which overhang the roof of the house which snakes, possums or rats can use to gain access to the house.
Such vermin like to make a home in the roof of a house, and can cause smells and other problems if ignored. Repellents or traps will help control the problem, but the only long term answer is either to stop their method of gaining entry, or to use poison baits. Possums can be encouraged to remain outside by providing nesting boxes or maintaining trees with hollows away from buildings.

Wood shavings as a mulch to deter both snails and snakes. They don't like crawling over it! It must be shavings though for this affect, not sawdust or wood chip. It should contain a lot of "flakes" of wood, like you get when you use a wood plant. Snakes are attracted to water features so are common in gardens with swimming pools. They also hide in garden beds close to homes and especially where there are logs, large rocks and places to take cover. Active dogs running around the garden tend to deter snakes from the area and also other animals that cause vibrations on the soil surface with their hoofs- such as horse and cattle. 

Know and Avoid plants that are Dangerous
Avoid or replace plants which are potentially dangerous or unpleasant to be around. Scented plants while being attractive to some, can make other people quite ill and can also trigger asthma and lung complaints. Strong, sweet scents such as frangipani, jasmine, boronia and daphne are particularly irritating to sensitive noses, sometimes causing severe headaches. Similarly allergy sufferers can react badly to pollen from plants such as acacias and grasses. These are  also gorgeous scented plants to many keen gardener lovers.  Know who in your family has allergies, avoid planting these specimens near public right of ways or along front fences near public paths.
Many common garden plants have highly poisonous or irritating sap (eg. Oleander, Datura, Euphorbia and even many Grevilleas). Prickly plants such as cacti, some hakeas, roses etc. though useful in some parts of a garden, should never be used where people are likely to commonly brush past them. Some experts have estimated that as many as one third of commonly grown garden plants contain toxic chemicals

What to Study
ACS offers lots of different courses for home gardeners, from the beginner to the specialist who has become an enthusiast about just one aspect of gardening, whether hydroponics, Rose Growing, Herbs, Orchids or something else.