Everybody knows somebody who kills every plant they try to grow…aka “brown thumbs.” I’m giving you a green thumbs-up to keep trying with a few helpful tips on how to keep your plants healthy and thriving!
- If you’re trying to start a flower or vegetable garden outdoors, build up your confidence by choosing the easiest plants to grow. I always recommend vigorous growers such as sunflowers, zinnias, daffodils, clarkias, poppies, sweet alyssum and daisies for beginners. For the vegetable garden I suggest all peas and legumes, especially sugar snap peas and red runner beans. Other easy veggies include lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. All these plants are particularly hardy and quick to grow with even the most basic care. Sunflowers are particularly easy and quick to sprout when planted from seeds. In fact, these sunny towers of power are recommended for children!
- Speaking of basic care, one mistake “brown thumbs” often are guilty of is loving a plant quite literally to death. Overwatering, despite our good intentions, can often cause a plant to wilt and rot (unless of course it’s a waterlily). Water when the soil is dry to the touch. If you push your finger in and it feels damp, then you can wait another day or so. Make sure your potted plants have containers with drainage holes at the bottom. You can also mix a bit of gravel to help your soil have better drainage.
- Pay attention to the light needs of your plants. Read the labels on your seed packets or the tags on the potted plants you bring home. If the plants need full sun, then attempting to grow it in a spot that only gets half a day sun may not be enough and your plants will turn yellow and wilt. The reverse is true of shade loving plants.
- A special note for potted plants positioned in full sun is that you will want to make sure they don’t shrivel and bake to death from lack of water. A spot in the hot sun is going to dry out much quicker than a shaded spot. So if your baby needs full sun, make sure it gets watered frequently in hot weather.
- On the subject of potted plants, I recommend growing succulents and cacti for indoor gardeners (common Aloe vera is a great one). These tough drought tolerant desert plants can survive it if you forget to water them for a few days. This can be a boon to a brown thumb. Those of you gardening in areas where there’s no Winter freeze will find that succulents and cacti to be wonderfully easy garden subjects. Just make sure they have excellent drainage as discussed earlier.
- When gardening outdoors, an excellent way to assure good drainage is to plant raised beds. While you’re at it, add in some nutrient rich organic compost to your dirt at least once a year for big happy healthy pants.
With these tips, you brown thumbs out there will start feeling a bit greener when it comes to keeping your beautiful plants alive!