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How to Not Kill Your Plants

Ron Finley

Lesson time 21:52 min

Can’t keep your plants alive? Learn how anyone can develop a green thumb as Ron covers proper plant maintenance and how to diagnose common issues, including root-bound plants and over- and under-watering.

Ron Finley
Teaches Gardening
Community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley shows you how to garden in any space, nurture your plants, and grow your own food.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - So right now, we're going to show you guys basically how not to kill your plants, or how to maintain your plants. I know what a lot of you guys are thinking, oh, I don't have green thumbs. But you do because you got to realize this plant has everything in common with you. We're plants. And I'm going to show you how to maintain this plant, and that's probably going to show you how to maintain yourself a lot better too. [MUSIC PLAYING] Second only to water, you're going to need to know what your climate is. What climate do you live in? That's going to be really important to know because that's going to determine how long you can grow and basically what you can grow. And climate zone maps are a great way to understand what plants do best where you live. For example, here are two maps that break down the US into different zones depending on environmental factors. The first is the USDA hardiness zone map. This one tells you the average minimum temperature in the winter. The other is the AHS heat zone map, which tells you the average maximum temperature in the summer. Check out your workbook for links to determine your climate zone, no matter where you live in the world. Like, here in LA, we can grow damn near anything all the time. But if you're in Washington DC, you don't have that luxury, you know, because you have to deal with frost. So frost matters because if you put your seed in the ground and the soil freezes over, your plants are not going to sprout. So what you want to do is you want to plant your spring vegetables after the last frost. But you got to remember with your fall vegetables, you want to harvest them before the first frost. For example, let's say you live in Denver, Colorado, and you want to grow some carrots. In your workbook, you'll find a link that will tell you that Denver's average last frost date is May 4 and the average first frost date is October the 5th. Now, carrots take about three months to grow from seed to maturity. This means that if you live in Denver, you don't want to plant carrot seeds before mid-May, and you don't want to plant them after mid-July. [MUSIC PLAYING] So in your climate zone, there's going to be different microclimates. And your climate is based on your city, for one, then your neighborhood, for one, and then your community, for one, and then your block, for one, and then your-- your home. You can create a microclimate in your home. So basically, what's going to affect your microclimate is where the shadows fall, how high your foliage is and your treetops. If your garden or wherever you're planting, if you have a balcony, is it facing the sun rising, or is it facing a sunset? How many hours of sun does it get? All of this is going to affect your microclimate. For example, let's say you live in a house with a backyard, and you look at your phone's weather app, which says it's 80 degrees and sunny outside. It's not going to account for one of your neighbor...

Plant a revolution

When Ron Finley first grew a garden on a curbside dirt strip, he got cited—and then a warrant was issued for his arrest. He fought back, got the laws changed, and started a movement. Now the community activist and self-proclaimed “Gangster Gardener” is teaching you how to grow your own food, keep your plants alive, and find beauty and freedom in gardening no matter the size of your space. Start planting a revolution.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I ran out and rehydrated my compost container with a little wate— which I didn't know— and turned that sucker like you said. I also added more scraps from our kitchen. We have chickens and I quit putting shells in— but...not anymore. Also— coffee grounds... welcome back to your roots! Thanks so much! GREAT CLASS! Gotta get some of that worm shit going... Cate Muegge

understanding the soil was a big plus, felt empowered to do something with the sun, soil, water and seed which are all around me

Thinking about what to plant simple, but so effective..what do I want it to look and feel like. Will go back and watch again*

Great class! Inspiring! In the way to a new garden!


Diana C.

This class is AWESOME and have learned the most, in a practical sense, with Ron Finley. The running joke in my house is how long it will take me to kill my new plants but with this masterclass I think the joke's over. Hallelujah and Amen to that! I feel like I finally have the tools I need to succeed in gardening. I am just hoping he will have more classes in the future; he's relatable and so easy to follow. I'll definitely be looking for new classes with him!

Cyndi Y.

I've done classes in the past and it takes me weeks, months, and even more than a year to finish them. I finished this class in 2 days, and now I have a small garden in my backyard. It's great to have instructor who teaches, swears, and brings a little comedy to the learning experience. I absolutely loved this class!

Tammie B.

I love that you are making this real. I feel empowered to go grow some stuff... I feel blessed to have come across this class as I am beginning my journey. I am feeling less anxious and more comfortable.


This is the stuff I wish I knew years ago when I thought I'd never be able to garden! I am genuinely so excited to get started again after watching. :)

A fellow student

After watching him discuss composting, I am going to get an old bin and diy a compost bin in my backyard. Thanks!

A fellow student

We absolutely loved this class and its timing couldn't have been better because of the current shortages in food supply and pandemic.

Anton T.

He was talking so much about that broccoli plant needing water and I wanted to see that plant get watered so bad but he didn't do it :( I hope that plant's ok


LOVE LOVE LOVE this course! I just kind of stumbled on it to take a peek and just binge-watched it in one day. Thank you Ron Finley!!!!


I am loving these lessons. I am a beginner so all lessons are new but simple and easy to follow.

A fellow student

You are so easy going, Ron. thanks for that. do you ever use Eucalyptus as a mulch? The city I live in offers it free. I'm just hoping it's not too toxic. It looks like it's been aged. Maybe that helps?