The entire world – except for beyond the arctic tundra’s – is covered with plants of one description or another. In fact, current thinking believes there to be an incredible 300-313,000 species of plants in existence today. But with so many unique plants growing in such a wide range of specialist environments, how on earth are you supposed to cope when it comes to growing non-native plants in your own garden?

Well, there are two ways to approach this:

1. Adjust the local environment in order to accommodate the plants you want ie. Improve/reduce drainage, adjust the soil Ph, increase shade/ remove shade etc.

2. Research what kind of environment you have and grow those plants which suit it.

Sometimes the plant itself will give clues that will help tell you about the environment it evolved from. Plants with silver of hairy leaves are generally from hot sunny climates. Broad leaved, low growing plants are often from a woodland or forest floor, while plants which have a silvery underside to the leaf tend to be an indication of specialised reflective cells within the leaf which it uses to maximise the available light in heavily shaded environments.

Plants which grow from bulbs tend to have originated from harsh mountainous areas, while plants with succulent stems or leaves often, but not always, come from regions with low rainfall.

Some plant families carry relating characteristics. Those for the ericaceous family almost all require an acidic soil, while a large amount of the edible fruits we eat are from the Rosaceae family.

In order to be absolutely certain of where your plant has originated from, always make sure that you have the correct name to match the plant. That way you can research where in the world it originated and adjust your local environment accordingly.

Of course, you also need to be aware that when it comes to looking after plants – kindness can kill! You may wish to feed and water your plants as much as you can, but remember that in the real world it doesn’t rain every day (unless you live in Wales) and waterlogged roots is the quickest way to kill off a good plant.

One more thing, cacti and succulents do not live in the desert. Sand dunes do, as well as an occasional camel. These specialist plants do however live in arid conditions where it will rain occasionally. Therefore cacti and will need watering, just not very much and not very often. If you never water them then they will die like any other plant.

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