Spring will be here before you know it—time to get your garden prepped. Taylor-Rae of Style Souffle has tips to get you started.

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This post is brought to you in partnership with the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show (happening Feb. 22-24 and March 1-3 at The Park Expo and Conference Center). All opinions are our own.

If you want to start a garden this year, or you’re hoping for your plants from last year to come back, you need to mark Feb. 15 on your calendar. That’s the day when you need to prune your plants (or as Taylor-Rae of Style Souffle says, prune the love out of your life). If you wait until after that date, you’re causing harm to the plants.

If you didn’t know about the pruning guideline, never fear. Taylor-Rae gave us the rundown on how to garden like a grown up. For more in-depth gardening lessons, check out her series, In Full Bloom.

Q: When it comes to gardening, where did you start? Have you always had a garden or plants?

A: Growing up, I would say I spent a lot of time in and around my grandmother’s garden. So, in many ways, gardening was always part of my life. It wasn’t until we purchased our first home that gardening became a hobby. We finally had our own space we could landscape and design. After closing on our house, the first place we went was a garden center, and we were hooked. What started as landscaping our own home grew into, “How can we grow our own flowers, and how can we make an edible garden?” We almost exclusively eat from our garden from April through September. We saw a huge decrease in our grocery bill just because we had this edible garden.

Q: What if you don’t have a yard—is gardening still an option?

A: Absolutely. Prior to buying our home, we lived in a townhouse and had a nice little patio with several roses and plant varieties. There are also community gardens around. You will find all these areas where you can get a plot. Find one near you.

Q: What is your process of choosing what to plant?

A: Plants are only pretty if they survive. When choosing a plant, there’s some practical things I always consider like climate, soil, sun, shade, water—something that’s suitable with the environment where it’s planted. Then I usually consider its purpose. Do I hope to create privacy? Do I want something that’s fragrant, has showy blooms, an evergreen? So my goal in outdoor gardening is to create balance. You want something that’s going to be in bloom all year long—you want there to always be something that’s making a statement.  

Q: What is the benefit of going to a home and garden show?

A: If you’ve got a home project you have in mind, that’s just a great way to go find local businesses and talk to them in person. Start there because you can really learn what is involved financially, a timeline, their availability, etc. A lot of these businesses don’t advertise online because they don’t have to. 

Q: Do you have any no-fail plants? Varieties you can always count on to survive?

A: Every plant is going to be temperamental and require care. There are some I can get to withstand the southern heat; it could be dead, and I can water it and it can grow back. I don’t like to say “no-fail.” If I had to recommend something, mine are Lantana Cosmic Impatiens and Begonia. Lantana are annuals—if you bring them in the garage or in a sunny window, you can actually keep them forever. They literally never die.

Q: Do you ever incorporate plants into your interior styling?

A:100 percent, I do. We lived in a townhouse before we purchased our home. You couldn’t put something down on a countertop without it being within a foot of a plant. I like to use greenery because it softens lines and adds depth to a room. Plants just make us happier people. There are so many health benefits aside from aesthetics to bringing plants inside.

Want to try your hand at gardening? Get all the advice and supplies you need at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show on Feb. 22-24 and March 1-3. 

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