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What Makes A Green Thumb?

Garden Reports and Rejoicing – December 2

A simple facebook post for the garden center has me wondering… why do some people have a green thumb?

As I wrote about a recent shipment of Cyclamen I thought about what to say. This isn’t a forget-about-it-for-ten-days-and-it-will-be-fine kind of plant. If a Cyclamen dries up so that the plant wilts, the buds are likely to die and it will stop blooming.

Too little watering is therefore bad for this plant, but too much moisture can be equally detrimental. Most Cyclamen instructions tell you to “water from the bottom” or “avoid getting the crown of the plant wet.” Both of these recommendations stem from the fact that when kept too moist Cyclamen can get crown rot and die.

This plant wants bright light but not much direct sun. And then there’s the matter of the summer dormancy period…

Some people are best off thinking of Cyclamen as a long lasting cut flower that is in dirt instead of water. In other words, don’t expect to keep this plant for more than a couple of months.

This train of thought lead me to this question: What makes a green thumb? Why are some people better able to keep plants alive while others are doomed to throw them in the compost? Is it simply a matter of too much or too little water, or is there something else going on?

I have some thoughts, but I’d love to hear yours first.

Cyclamen. They are beautiful. Get one. Enjoy it as long as it lives. Don't stress about keeping it alive for months or years.

5 comments to What Makes A Green Thumb?

  • In my experience a ‘Green Thumb’ translates into sincere and sustained attention, and attention is a form of love. That is what is going on, it is LOVE.

  • Regina

    Good question! This is going to sound corny, but being a green thumb means thinking like a plant (to me). Once you think about the plants biological imperative to live or at least try to reproduce, its behavior starts to make sense. The first time you have a eureka moment that explains why the plant is doing what it’s doing-you become a green thumb, and from then on you learn to take cues. You also have to keep on trying even after you kill some plants, the experience gives you better instincts and perceptions about plant habits. Some people develop great instincts right away, others take longer, but anyone who is determined, and patient can be a green thumb.

  • marcia

    I think sometimes it’s a matter of being observant, caring & understanding about living things. about one’s priorities and a bunch of dumb luck.

  • You guys are the best – your thoughts are way ahead of mine. I love Marcia’s “dumb luck”, Regina’s “thinking like a plant” and Heather’s “attention is a form of love”. These three comments say so much – thank you. And I feel another post coming on…

  • […] That knowledge aside, however, I think that we’re better off if we cultivate the qualities that Heather, Marcia and Regina suggested can lead to a green thumb. If we lean toward “sincere and sustained attention”, being […]