Rumor has it that if you plant a stick in the ground in Costa Rica it will grow! The soil here is rich and fertile. Gardening in the Guanacaste region is satisfying but still a labor of love, no matter how rich the soil.
For those who love flowers, I have great news…You can have blooms all year long! In my own garden, I have a plethora of different heliconia species. Many of these heliconias came from cuttings I collected off the side of the road and simply stuck in the ground. Torch ginger and canna lilies flowers burst open from the tops of tall stalks. Ixora flowers line my sidewalks and driveway. Bougainvillea bushes create vibrant pops of color throughout the yard.
But keep in mind that just because these flowers grow well, doesn’t mean they don’t need some maintenance. Here in the Guanacaste region, we have 6 months of no rain. It is important to make sure you water these tropical flowers regularly or have an automated irrigation system. Also a “full sun” loving plant may not necessarily be tolerant of the full sun strength in this region.
Aside from flowers growing in my garden, I have a variety of fruit trees. The mango and avocado trees I planted from seeds 3 years ago are already taller than me! You only need to wait 5 to 8 years for fruit on a mango tree planted from seed. Avocado trees will start to fruit after just 5 years. The 3 year old lime trees are full of fruit and the orange trees are starting to blossom. Bananas and plantains grow wild with enough water. I get so many bananas, I often give them away.
If you plan on growing fruit, make sure you learn about each one. The mango or lime tree may grow tall and wide but they don’t always give fruit depending on their conditions. It’s important to make sure these plants are well fertilized and cut back in order to provide delicious fruits. Also keep an eye out for pests and critters that want to make a meal out of your fruits. Some fruits must be protected, bagged or picked early to insure that you will be able to enjoy them.
The best resource for those looking to start their own garden is taking a trip to a local viviero (plant nursery) and talking to the jardinero (gardener)! These folks know everything there is to know about gardening the local plants in our region and how to best take care of them. If you prefer a low maintenance garden they will point you in the direction of plants you can practically forget about. If you love flowers, they will help you so that your garden is in bloom year round. They are happy to accommodate every type of gardener.
Gardening is a great hobby for those interested in moving to Guanacaste, or anywhere in Costa Rica. It’s an easy way to stay fit and grow enough limes for endless margaritas! Be sure to check out the photo album I added to my website (https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_Photo_Album/page_2711979.html) Many of these photos were taken in my garden.