According to celebrity gardener James Underwood Crockett, the expression “green thumb” comes from the fact that if a person handles enough potted plants, the algae growing on the outside of the pots will stain the person’s thumbs. Others claim that it harkens back to the reign of England’s King Edward I, who awarded a prize to the serf whose thumb was the greenest from shelling peas. In any case, these days, you don’t have to worry about your thumbs literally turning green. But what if you want to learn how to get a green thumb? If you’ve always wished you were a better gardener, scroll down for some helpful hints.
How to Get a Green Thumb
In some ways, gardening is a lot like baking. If you want your plant to thrive, you need to follow the recipe, i.e., the directions provided on the tag (which is usually provided by the nursery). Typically the tag will tell you important information like how much water the plant needs, how much sunlight it prefers, its hardiness zone, when it blooms, when it needs to be pruned, and how large it will grow. If your plant doesn’t come with a tag, reach out to the nursery for more information or do a little online research.
Simply following the tips on the tag is half the battle when it comes to gardening. If you choose plants that aren’t appropriate for your area’s climate or the amount of sunlight in your yard, don’t be surprised when they struggle to survive.
Research your hardiness zone.
You can’t force a cactus to thrive outdoors in Alaska. In colder climates, some plants will freeze on chilly fall nights. In warmer climates, some plants will die in the blistering heat. This is where hardiness zones come into play. As we mentioned above, a plant’s tag will typically include its hardiness zone. According to the USDA, this is the “standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location.” It’s based on average annual minimum winter temperatures. Check out the hardiness zone map to learn your area’s zone and seek out plants that suit your zone well.
One of the biggest mistakes new gardeners make is watering too much, too often. Often, this is due to enthusiasm for their new hobby, which is perfectly understandable. Watering a plant can make you feel like you’re being proactive and helping your plant in thrive, even if the plant isn’t particularly thirsty. Check your plant’s tag to see how much water it prefers.
Make friends with the folks at your local nursery.
Sometimes plants struggle even when you think you’re doing everything right. In these cases, it’s often helpful to consult with a gardening expert at your local nursery. You can explain how you’re caring for the plant, explain the symptoms of the problem, and ask for advice. If you can find the right person, they’ll likely be happy to offer their expert advice. In return for their expertise and kindness, be sure to purchase some gardening supplies to support the business.
If this is your first time delving into gardening, recognize your limitations and start with a plant that’s relatively easy to care of. Save your more ambitious projects (like orchids) for later. Some of the easiest plants to take care of include snake plants, spider plants, pothos, Chinese evergreens, ZZ plants, monstera plants, and parlor palms.
Most importantly, if you want to learn how to get a green thumb, you need to practice. Gradually expand your little garden – and your knowledge of gardening – until your thumb is green as an emerald!
At Springhouse Village, we know how important it is to enjoy your retirement in a lively and welcoming environment. We make it easy for our residents to be active participants in our community. Whether that means encouraging residents to join an exercise class or assisting them in starting a garden club, we strive to help our residents thrive. To learn more about the amenities and services we offer, contact Springhouse Village today.