A fun little fact about me: I suck at keeping any kind of plant.
I’ve tried to keep all kinds of different houseplants over the years, all of which died equally sad and droopy deaths; from fickle orchids to rose bushes to gerbera daisies (which are supposed to be sturdy, but I guess not).
The only thing I’ve ever been able to keep alive?
A stubborn little succulent from Ikea, and I’m about 90% sure that’s just because it thrives on neglect.
My unfortunate lack of talent with anything plant-related has a lot to do with why I get addicted to games that let me farm. You know, like the entirety of the Harvest Moon series. In those games, it’s so easy to care for plants; all I have to do is water them every day, try not to step on them, and pick them when they’re ready.
When I was home earlier this year, Final Fantasy XIV became a kind of escape for me. In many ways, it became my primary socialization, outside of the fellow residents of my home. It also became my primary source of home-decorating joy, because we had just gotten a little cottage and I had free rein over its appearance.
And then, it also quickly became my primary source of plant-sustaining fulfillment, as soon as I realized that growing plants was a thing I could do—and that I could grow expensive plants for housing items.
In those days, I had a lot of time to spare; I was home for six months, and there’re really only so many resumes a girl can send out in a day. So, I dedicated a good chunk of time to learning everything I could about how to garden in Final Fantasy XIV.
Here’s what I learned.
Dirt is important.
Most of the housing suppliers in the different housing areas will happily sell you potting soil. However, as it says right in the description, it has no special effects on the crops you grow whatsoever. Which would imply that there is dirt that does have special effects, right?
Each of the three main regions, the Shroud, La Noscea, and Thanalan, have their own kinds of special dirt. These also come in three grades of effectiveness.
Shroud topsoil increases the number of things you harvest from each crop. It won’t affect luxury crops like Thavnairian onions or jute, but I like using it for things like krakka roots and shards.
La Noscea topsoil improves the quality of your crops. I only really sell it on the market board, but it’s good for growing high-quality ingredients for crafters if you don’t have high-level gatherers.
Thanalan topsoil increases the chances that your crops will crossbreed. This is my favourite one, because the only way to get luxury crops like Thavnairian onions and jute is to crossbreed them, and buying them off the market board really isn’t an option unless you’re a gil-lionaire in the game.
I usually only go for the grade 3 variants, because they have the strongest effects. Of course, they aren’t easy to get. They’re only found in unspoiled nodes, so if you have a miner over level 50, you can harvest them once per Eorzean day.
- Grade 3 Thanalan topsoil shows up at 5 a.m. in Western Thanalan, near Horizon
- Grade 3 Shroud topsoil shows up at 6 a.m. in the South Shroud, near Camp Tranquil
- Grade 3 La Noscea topsoil shows up at 7 p.m. in Middle La Noscea, near Summerford Farms
You can only get one bag of soil at a time, so it can take a while to gather. Luckily, there are other ways to get them!
For example, to get Grade 3 Thanalan soil, you can assign the miner class to a retainer and once they get to level 50, they’ll be able to bring you one every 50 real-world minutes. You can also use your tomestones of poetics from dungeons to buy unidentifiable ore in Idyllshire, which you can trade for the topsoil in the same building.
Of course, you can always get it on the market board, but depending on your server, it will be very expensive. On Famfrit, it rarely goes for less than 10,000 gil a bag.
Tending is very important.
Yes, you can leave your crops for a certain amount of time without tending them, and they’ll be fine.
Eventually, though, they’ll get this really obvious purple stinky cloud around them, indicating that they’re not doing well. Ultimately, if they stay like this too long, they’ll wilt and die. Which is not ideal for someone like me, but hey.
I didn’t actually know about the dying part at first, although my years of Harvest Moon did teach me to assume that would be the case. I was just very careful to make sure it never happened!
Each crop seems to have a different threshold, though; it only took about 24 hours of me not being home for my crop of jute to go from perfectly happy to turning purple, withering, and dying.
I was very sad.
Pro-tip: check in on your crops at least twice a day, even if all you do is log in to do a little gardening.
Fertilizing is good, but not necessary.
At first, I didn’t know what the benefits of fertilizing crops were. I mean, there are four different types of fertilizer, and they’re kinda pricy when you think about how quickly you can go through it.
When I found out that fishmeal speeds up the time it takes for crops to grow, I was fascinated, and very quickly spent way too much gil on it.
Nowadays, I typically don’t use it, preferring to let my retainer have the extra grow time to gather more soil. I really only use it to speed up my Azeyma rose crossbreed, because it grows just a tiny bit slower than Azeyma roses themselves, and those seeds are too expensive to buy off the market.
Other fertilizers are good for flowers.
Remember how I said there were four types of fertilizer?
Well, the three that aren’t fishmeal (red pomace, blue pomace, and mountain pomace) are only used for dyeing plants like flowers. The default for most flower seeds is red, but you can use combinations of these pomaces to get different colours.
|Colour of flower||Type(s) of pomace
|Red||You don't have to do anything!
|Blue||1 blue pomace
|Yellow||1 mountain pomace
|Orange||1 red pomace + 1 mountain pomace
|Purple||1 red pomace + 1 blue pomace
|Green||1 blue pomace + 1 mountain pomace
|Black, white, or rainbow||1 red pomace + 1 blue pomace + 1 mountain pomace + RNG
Crossbreeding is finicky.
One of the first things I did after Shane and I got our first little house was to try and get my hands on some jute so I could make a combed wool rug. Obviously, after dropping about 3 million gil on the house, I wasn’t feeling the need to spend another 120k-ish on materials, so much like my adventures in crafting, I decided it’d just be easier to grow it myself.
That did not go as planned.
Crossbreeding in FFXIV isn’t exactly the easiest thing, and I’m definitely not a master of it. I know there are better ways of doing things, but I’ve stuck with what I do because it seems to work and I don’t have to remember complicated gardening patterns.
Because then I’d probably accidentally kill my plants.
Here’s what I do:
Step 1: Get my seeds and soil.
Before I start gardening, I like to have my supplies ready. I’ll research what I need for the cross I’m trying to make, then I’ll go out and gather everything I need before I ever get started!
Pro-tip: I like to use FFXIV Gardening to research my crosses, because it will tell me everything I need—even what order the seeds need to be planted in, because sometimes it matters.
For example, to breed Azeyma roses, I use a combination of prickly pineapple seeds and almonds, because they were the easiest for me to get my hands on. Pricklies are a timed node for 9 a.m. at Costa del Sol, and almonds are a hidden item near Wineport.
Heads-up: if you try to do this before your botanist is level 70 and can use Leaf Turn III and Luck of the Pioneer to reveal hidden items, you will get many, many mahogany logs. But that’s okay, because they typically sell well.
I also like to make sure I have enough on hand before the crops are ready, so I don’t find myself in a pickle when I harvest and don’t have a replacement seed.
Step 2: Clear the soil.
This is a trick I learned from the lady who ran the gardening program at my old FC. I have no real evidence that it works, but it definitely doesn’t not work! You know what I mean.
For this step, I use a scrap crop (usually Althyk lavender, which is 500 seals from my grand company), and a sack of potting soil from the housing supplier.
This little combination needs to go very specifically in the first plot of the patch to “clear” the dirt. This basically resets the patch, and (supposedly) increases the chances of effective crossbreeding.
Step 3: Plant the seeds.
This is maybe the easiest step of the whole process, actually. When I’m planting around my scrap crop, I like to make sure that I’m going around the entire patch, alternating which seed I plant. I’ve found I have better luck with this strategy than if I planted all the middle-of-the-row seeds and then all the corner seeds.
Once I have plots 2-8 filled, I’ll remove the scrap crop from plot 1 and replace it with the last of my seeds.
Step 4: Harvest them properly.
One harvest will almost never give you all the seeds you need. So, if you want to keep it going, the trick with harvesting is to replace the crops one at a time as you harvest them.
So, for example, with my Azeyma rose crossbreed, I’ll harvest one prickly pineapple, then replace it. Then, I’ll harvest the next prickly pineapple, and replace it. Then, when I’m done all the prickly pineapples like this, I’ll do the same with the almonds.
Again, this is a trick I learned from the gardening master at my last FC, and I look at it as a way to make sure the gardening plot doesn’t forget what I was doing.
So this is what I’ve learned so far about gardening in Final Fantasy XIV! Have you tried it? Have any secrets?