Plant Care 101

Ask The Doctor —

Over the last year, popularity in gardening has grown to new heights as more plant parents understand the benefits of growing from home and connecting with nature.

Arber is here to make plant care more fun, more engaging, and a little less intimidating, and who better to lead that mission than our Chief Scientific Advisor, Dr. Pam Marrone.

Dr. Pam Marrone has over 35 years of experience discovering, developing, and commercializing biological products. A Ph.D entomologist and entrepreneur, she has dedicated her career to creating effective, environmentally responsible products for pest management and plant health.

Dr. Pam Marrone is here to share her expert knowledge in our new #AskDrPam series. Enjoy some top tips from Dr. Pam!


In terms of plant care, what should I do to get the most out of my spring garden? How should I prepare my plants for the upcoming summer season?

Honey bees, wild bees, and bumblebees are good for your garden to pollinate plants. Hover flies, butterflies, and some moths are other types of pollinators that are also beneficial to plant health. These guys are always welcome in an Arber garden.

The predatory insects that eat pests are lady beetles, assassin bugs, syrphid fly (hoverfly) larvae, big-eyed bugs, garden spiders, and wasps.

By maximizing both beneficial bugs and insects, there’s a natural balance that helps keep pest populations lower and keep your garden healthier overall.

Can you explain the basics of soil acidity?

Soil pH is important because it influences several soil factors affecting plant growth, such as soil bacteria, nutrient leaching, nutrient availability, toxic elements, and soil structure. Generally speaking, pH is a measure of how acidic/basic the water is; the range goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base.

You want to keep your pH at 6-7 and the best way to do that is to add compost and improve drainage. Arber Plant Food is a hyper concentrate liquid compost that will help to improve pH.

Is fertilizing a necessary step in a plant care routine?

It depends on soil health. Fertilizing is usually necessary until you build up your soil with organic matter to improve the overall soil health. Once you have healthy soil, you’ll need less fertilizer, and you can supplement with plant food for even better growth and soil health. I recommend fertilizing in the morning and at the beginning of a growth cycle — versus at the end of a season.

When it comes to plant care products, can you tell me about concentrates versus ready to use (aka “RTU”s)? What do you prefer?

RTUs are often preferred by gardeners because you just spray them on the plant, as-is, without mixing. However, an RTU is the active ingredient that has been diluted with water. This means you are paying more for the convenience, and using much more plastic than with a concentrate. That’s why Arber products are concentrates—you get more bang for your buck and are using less plastic.

Want to learn more? Have questions of your own? Follow along at @growarber and send in your questions to Dr. Pam.
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