Is a Green Thumb Something You Can Learn?

Is a Green Thumb Something You Can Learn?

Elizabeth Licata
Apr 10, 2013

A lot of things in life are acquired skills. People learn foreign languages, kickboxing, sitar, and even how to like olives. But plants can be confusing. Fertilizer that's good for one is bad for another. One wants lots of light, another wants only a little light. And who knew there were so many different kinds of dirt? Some people seem to just be naturals at growing things.

I can almost pinpoint the moment I developed the so-called "black thumb." In seventh grade my science fair project was growing kale in different fertilizers. The next year, I turned up with a tray full of dead plants and a 14-page paper about how my experiment would have been very informative if all my test subjects and control plants hadn't turned brown and crispy. (I seriously considered buying some healthy plants, claiming they were the control group, and then turning in a paper about how I figured out how to kill plants with science.)

But is it possible to learn to be good with plants?

The Internet is full of helpful lists of plant types good for people who are bad with plants – spider plants and snake plants are on most of them – but I've had a snake plant for three months now and now it looks like someone burned it. (While the lemon tree looks like that because I accidentally did burn it, the burned snake plant is a mystery.)

Did you have a black thumb that you managed to turn green? Tell us how you did it!

(Image: Shutterstock)

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