Black Thumb? Start Small With 5 Simple Gardening Tips

Black Thumb? Start Small With 5 Simple Gardening Tips

This one goes out to everyone who looks at beautiful pictures of other people’s houseplants and gardens and thinks, “Wow, I would definitely kill all of that in a week.”

You are my people.

I’m not saying I have a black thumb. I’m just saying that I think my tiny Trader Joe’s succulent has grown an inch or two since October, and it’s literally the first time I’ve ever kept a plant alive.

Okay, so maybe I AM saying I have a black thumb. But I wish I didn’t!

I think a lot of my problem stems from just not knowing very much about gardening in general, so if you’re like me and you wish you could start your own little garden while we’re stuck at home, today’s post is for you.

I’ve scoured the internet and consulted with some of my very successful plant mom friends to figure out the best ways to set myself up for success when it comes to actually making things grow. And I’m going to share five simple gardening tips I’ve found with you!

This one goes out to everyone who looks at beautiful pictures of other people’s houseplants and gardens and thinks, “Wow, I would definitely kill all of that in a week.”

I can’t guarantee that your first gardening attempts will be a success, but I can say from experience that you’ll learn a lot and feel more empowered to keep trying!


1. Make a Plan

In most things, I’m a pretty meticulous planner. For some reason though, when it comes to growing plants, I tend to be a bit haphazard.

Planning is essential for success, I’m told. Take the time to figure out where the best, most consistent sunlight is, and do your research about which plants can thrive in your region.


simple gardening tips
Unsplash/Kaufmann Mercantile


Make sure that you have the right containers (or the right soil if you’re planting in your yard), and don’t be afraid to ask friends or neighbors with pretty gardens for advice. (But do it safely! We’re still social distancing!)


2. Start Small

Be realistic about what you can consistently take care of. Certain flowers and foods need a lot of tending, and you might not have the time, patience, or ability to care for fussy plants. That’s okay!

I know myself, and I know that right now, I need to focus on just one or two plants that are low-maintenance. Starting with a small container garden is the best way to feel accomplished and set yourself up for success.


simple gardening tips
Unsplash/Annie Spratt


If you need suggestions on where to start, try growing mint, basil, pansies, or hen and chick succulents. All of these are virtually unkillable, and they’re all pretty as well!


3. Grow Something Exciting

Easy doesn’t have to mean boring! My succulent isn’t the most beautiful plant I’ve ever seen, but it’s cute and interesting, and it makes me happy to look at it.

I’m also planning to grow catnip because it’s simple, hardy, and satisfyingly symmetrical. Plus, it smells nice and attracts cats, so it’s basically the perfect plant for me.

Choose one or two things that are exciting to you. It could be growing lettuce for your pet rabbit, cultivating a small pot of daisies, or growing a fragrant pot of basil to make your own pesto. Whatever makes you happy—a pleasant scent, a particular color, a specific food— focus on that, and create your gardening experience around it so that you’re excited to care for your plants.


Unsplash/Jason Leung


4. Remember That More Isn’t Always Better

This is something that I have trouble with still, but my succulent is teaching me patience and restraint. In my mind, it’s better to give too much water, fertilizer, or sun than not enough, but my plant mom friends unanimously scolded me for this. Too much care is just as bad as not enough, which I guess is a lesson that works for pets, kids, and life in general, huh?

Instead of always looking for something to do, they said I need to just let my plants live their lives.

Stick to a schedule of watering, pruning, rotating, and weeding that works for your plants, and then spend the rest of your time just enjoying knowing that they’re happy and healthy.


Unsplash/Cassidy Phillips


5. Learn, and Then Keep Learning

This, by far, was the most important tip I received from friends and Google. Don’t just learn the basics and then stop. Take some time every day or every week to learn about a gardening-related topic. Good topics to brush up on would be:

– Composting

– Watering

– Using indoor grow lights

– Repotting

– Troubleshooting unhealthy or dying plants

– Planting schedules/regional planting guides

– Dealing with pests


Unsplash/Brooke Lark


We’re In This Together!

I won’t lie—I’m probably still going to end up accidentally killing some plants.

However, I feel a lot better about my chances of successfully keeping a plant alive now, and it seems like a nice, low-stress challenge to take on while I’m stuck at home.

So, I’m extending this challenge to you! Pick one plant, and try to grow it with me. Let’s see if we can reform our black thumb ways together.



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