Though it certainly feels like it when you watch people with the gift of making every plant under their care flourish, no one is born with a green thumb: There are only black thumbs who become green thumbs, and black thumbs who haven’t yet.
If you’re in the second category, knowing these dirty little secrets hidden in the closets of your green thumb friends will speed you on your own path to that enviable star plant-parent status.
1. They have a go-to nursery (and they aren’t afraid to “use” them)
Yes, you can pick up plants at the grocery store, but there are many advantages to finding a nursery that you love and taking full advantage of all it has to offer. First off, the plants in a nursery are cared for in the best possible way; plants from other places, on the other hand, may be stressed or even infested with invisible pests before they even make it to your house. Nursery plants are tended by knowledgeable staff and when you bring the plants home, they’re in good condition.
Second, the nursery staff is a repository of information and tips and tricks for caring for your plants. Green thumbs ask lots of questions and put the experts’ input to good use.
2. They choose the right plants
This takes many forms. Green thumbs stick to plants they are confident they’ll be able to care for. They don’t buy plants just because they’re “trendy” if they know they’re beyond their ability to keep alive. In addition, they only buy plants that will thrive in available locations in their homes. Even if their eyes are drawn to a beautiful maidenhair fern, for instance, they’d never bring it home unless they know they have the perfect spot that gets just the right amount of indirect morning or afternoon light.
(Image credit: Scott L. Williams/Shutterstock)
3. They read and save the tag
Most times, the information you need to keep plants alive and happy is right under your nose, on a tag hanging off the pot or stuck into the soil. Green thumbs pay attention to this information and, maybe more importantly, they don’t trust themselves to remember it. By keeping it handy—either by leaving the tag in the pot and referring to it regularly, uploading a picture of it to Evernote, or using a gardening app—green thumbs keep relevant care guidelines close at hand and refer to them often.
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman for Apartment Therapy)
4. They have no shame in their fake plant game
Maybe they really want that trendy plant that they’re realistic enough to know they can’t keep alive, or maybe they want some greenery in a spot that’s not conducive to plant growth. Enter fake plants. They cost far less than replacing plants that die and, most importantly, they look good. Green thumbs use them strategically.
Check out our guide on where to find and choose the best fake plants.
(Image credit: Submitted by Dean Sameshima)
5. There’s a graveyard of dead plants in their past
In other words, green thumbs used to be just like you. But they learned from their mistakes and didn’t give up, even experimenting with bringing apparent goners back to life. Remember, green thumbs aren’t born; they persevered. Which means there’s hope for us all.