Every year about this time, plant lovers around the world--at least in the northern hemisphere--find themselves faced with such life-or-death questions as, Will it be petunias or pansies? Marigolds or morning glories? Do I dare plant azaleas in the shade? Although most of us still rely on friends, books or dumb luck to figure things out, there is a better way. The Web has quietly grown into one of the earth's richest gardening resources. Whether you're a novice struggling to keep your spider plant alive or a pro pondering a new fertilizer for your roses, there's a site out there for you. Among the best:
-garden.org The official site of the National Gardening Association provides important basic information, such as which agricultural zone you live in so you will know which types of greenery grow best in your neck of the woods. But there's a lot more too: an extensive Q&A library answers thousands of fruit, flower and vegetable-garden questions, while how-tos offer seasoned advice on such topics as pruning apple trees, training climbing roses and planting window boxes.
-gardenweb.com Green thumbs around the world converge at this online meeting house to swap tips and boast about their horticultural successes. The regional forums are especially handy for suggestions tailored to your zone, while the topic-oriented forums cover every subject under the sun. Even novices feel at home asking questions in this friendly Web community.
-gardenguides.com This well-organized site features fact-packed, one-page tip sheets on everything from planting bulbs to growing annuals and perennials from seed. Can't find what you want? Just click on the links section for more than 170 recommended sites.
-thegardenhelper.com This homegrown website isn't much to look at, but the advice from garden guru Bill Beaurain is indispensable, especially for beginners struggling with their houseplants. And don't miss the handy month-by-month guide to what you should be doing in the garden right now.
-plantcare.com Want to know what a philodendron looks like? Not quite sure what a narcissus is? Plantcare.com has the Web's most extensive alphabetical list--organized by both scientific and common names--along with pictures and basic growing info. But you'll have to pay the $14.95 annual fee to use it after the two-week trial.
-bhg.com The online version of Better Homes and Gardens blossoms with advice and ideas, including a useful A-Z houseplant guide and landscaping tips not found on other sites. If you see something you want to buy, click on BHG's GardenShop link for hundreds of plants at reasonable prices. (For seeds, try Burpee.com.
-hort.net Just browsing? Armchair gardeners will get an eyeful--and a quick course in Latin plant names--by clicking through the lush photos collected at this site. More than 2,600 varieties of plants, trees and flowers are beautifully displayed. You just might be inspired to pick up a spade and start a garden of your own.
Gardening questions for Anita? E-mail email@example.com