Year End Look:'s 2016 Top Articles, Plants and More

By Dave Whitinger, December 30, 2016

In 2016 we had 7,860,115 different people visit Those visitors viewed a total of 28,049,877 pages and spent an average of exactly 2 minutes each time they visited the site. 75% of the visitors to our site were visiting for the first time (and 25% were return visitors). 62% of those visitors were female. In an encouraging development, we had more visitors in the 25-34 age group (18.46%) than we did in the 45-54 age group (15.92%). The trends have shown that young people are getting into gardening again, and our numbers agree.

46% of our visitors were on a desktop. 38% used a mobile phone, and 16% used a tablet. Samsung Galaxy and iPhones were the most popular mobile devices used.

The most read articles on our site this year were:

1: Fertilize with Epsom Salts
What's the deal with using epsom salts? People read the back of the bag and they see instructions for use in the garden, and that question brings them to Google which brings them here. 

There's never a time when onions aren't ready for harvesting. They can be picked and eaten at any stage. No matter how many onions you use during the season, though, it's nice to have a crop of big onions mature at the end of summer to store for the fall and winter months.

3: Harvesting Potatoes
After all your work of planting and caring for your potato plants, here's how to get the most from your harvest.

4: Harvesting Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato plants will keep growing as long as the weather stays warm. The vines don't die and signal harvest time the way white potato vines do. If you have a long growing season, you just have to keep checking the hills and harvest the roots at the best cooking stage.

5: Harvesting Corn
Harvesting corn is a matter of picking the ears at peak flavor. Here's how to know when to harvest.

6: How Potatoes Grow
Potatoes are usually grown from other potatoes. You plant a whole, small potato, or a piece of a larger one for a new plant. The whole potato or cut piece has several slightly recessed, dormant buds or "eyes" on the surface. When conditions are right, these buds will sprout, whether the potatoes are in the ground or in a kitchen cupboard. The sprouts then develop into independent plants.

7: Watering Tomatoes
Tomatoes require an even supply of water throughout the season; an irregular water supply will cause your tomatoes to develop problems.

8: Prolific and Terrific: Ranunculus
These are brilliantly colored flowers with multiple layers of delicate, crepe paper-thin petals. They look more like an origami masterwork than a flower.

9: Overwintering Herbs
Some herb plants can be brought indoors to grow for months, providing summer flavor for my cooking. Others can be protected in the garden over the winter and they will bounce back next spring. Here are some suggestions for keeping herbs through the winter -- indoors and out.

10: Naturally Rot-Resistant Woods
Environmental and health concerns have people looking for natural raised bed materials.

Our Plants Database continues to be our most used area of the site. These are the top 20 most viewed plants this year:

1: Louisiana Iris (Iris 'Princess Leia')
2: Lily (Lilium 'Starlette')
3: Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
4: Oriental Arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis)
5: Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)
6: Chinese Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Shoosmith')
7: Pink Pussy Willow (Salix caprea 'French Pink')
8: Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)
9: Red Dragon Flower (Huernia schneideriana)
10: Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)
11: Eve's Needle Cactus (Austrocylindropuntia subulata)
12: Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
13: Turtle Vine (Callisia repens)
14: Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
15: Large Firecracker Plant (Cuphea 'Vermillionaire')
16: Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia 'Ebony Flame')
17: Flowering Maple (Abutilon 'Tiger Eye')
18: Weeping Pussywillow (Salix caprea 'Pendula')
19: Butterfly Leaf (Christia obcordata 'Stripe')
20: Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa)

Here are the ten most viewed photos in our database:

Community Ideas from the past continue to attract readers. Here are the most read ideas this year:

1. Tutorial ~ How To Make a Hollow Concrete Sphere, by rcn48

2. And the Award for Best Garden Hose Goes to . . ., by Boopaints

3. Prevent Algae from Growing in Your Birdbath, by flaflwrgrl

4. The All Things Plants Most Popular Vines and Climbers, by dave

5. All About Purslane, by Boopaints

6. How To Turn an Aquarium into a Terrarium, by threegardeners

7. No More Trenching!! -- Tool for Nearly Painless Irrigation Pipe Installation, by evermorelawnless

8. How To Grow Coleus from Cuttings, by Onewish1

9. Growing Daylilies from Seed, by beckygardener

10. A How-To Guide for Propagating Bromeliads, by SongofJoy

Discussion Forums:

Our forums really grew this year. We had 15,629 new threads started this year (compared with 12,985 last year). A grand total of 316,283 posts were written in our forums, compared with 262,529 last year. The most viewed threads were:

1. The thread "Dishwashing soap for aphids" in Soapy Water To Defeat Aphids

2. The thread "Worm Bugs in my plant! The HORROR!" in Houseplants forum

3. The thread "Mold in my terrarium" in Ask a Question forum

4. The thread "Start rose cuttings in a potato?" in Propagation forum

5. The thread "Great tip!" in Cinnamon Makes a Great Rooting Hormone Substitute!

6. The thread "How deep are rose bush roots?" in Roses forum

7. The thread "Propagating Haworthia, Zebra Plant" in Cactus and Tender Succulents forum

8. The thread "Help!!! The deer are destroying my daylilies and iris'. What do I do??" in Daylilies forum

9. The thread "spearmint with white spots on the leaves" in Ask a Question forum

10. The thread "Yellow leaves on my hydrangea" in Perennials forum

Questions and Answers Archive

Everyone knows that we have an amazing community of gardeners ready to answer every question in our Ask a Question area, but did you know that we also have a archive of nearly 30,000 questions from the past? Members can search past questions and view the answers that were given by NGA experts of years past. From that wealth of information, the following ten questions were the most viewed inquiries this year:

1. Little trees sprouting all over my yard

2. Avocado Leaves Turning Brown and Brittle

3. Transplanting an old lilac bush (now six feet tall)

4. How to attract fireflies

5. Annual Growth Rate Of Privet Hedge

6. Leave Turn Yellow On My Fan Palm Tree

7. Bougainvillea Propagation

8. Determining The Sex Of A Papaya Tree

9. Petunias Wilting, Dying

10. How to kill dollar weed

In conclusion...

The National Gardening Association has had a long history going back to 1971 and has undergone numerous transitions during the many decades of its life.  The NGA's name and assets changed hands this year when we (Trish and Dave Whitinger) took over the organization and gave it a new life. We spent almost all of 2016 bringing the website up to modern standards, and merging it in with our pre-existing website, All Things Plants.

We have come so far this year, and we are so excited for the work we have done, and the work that is yet to come. The members that gather daily at, and the visitors that come by the millions to educate themselves on gardening, are our reward for the work we are doing. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for those who use our services, and we are grateful and honored to be in this position. Thank you to all the members who have been with us through this transition - we appreciate each and every one of you more than you can know.

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