Plant Care For The Black Thumb

Plant care doesn’t have to be a mystery, and “black thumbs” are that way for a reason…usually a valid one. Don’t ignore the signs, here’s what you need to know.


When Plant Care Goes Terribly Wrong

Plants are the next big decorating trend, and it’s one I’m all for joining! What could go wrong  adding decorative elements that help clean and purify our air?

Turns out, a lot! My black thumb resulted in hundreds spent over time on plants that starting dying promptly upon entering my house. Not to mention the frail half dead looking plants all over the house (what kind of decor is that?). However the absolute WORST part was the annoying little gnats we never had before having house plants.

I spent numerous days swatting and killing these pesky little things wondering where they were coming from…they would end up in my nose, food and drink. It drove me and my family crazy! When I realized they were coming from the soil of many of my plants, my husband was like “are we done with houseplants now?”. Haha. Poor guy.

I haven’t given up on having houseplants, but I have learned a whole lot along the way, and I had to re-evaluate how I add plants to my home.


What Makes You A “BlackThumb”?

Let’s be honest, for most of us that black thumb is just a lack of proper info and/or dedicated effort towards our plants. I jokingly refer to them as my “plant babies”, and it turns some plants require just as much care and attention.

Because of my lack of free time I don’t want to expend too much effort, but I want to have my cake and eat it too. I knew I had to re-evaluate which set of plants would fit into my lifestyle.

You also need to evaluate your lifestyle before you become a plant caregiver. Select your plants based on the lifestyle you have, or be committed to making them part of a new lifestyle.


(Recovering Fiddle Leaf Fig I almost killed by over-watering)

Choosing Your Plants Wisely

Do a little research rather than snatching up the next cutest plant you spy. Be aware of the pitfalls your or your own house may have. Does the plant do well in bright light or low light, and can your house sustain those sunlight needs?

Does it require frequent watering or fertilizing? How quickly does it grow and will it need to be re-potted? Just a few simple questions will save your wallet down the road.


Routine & Grouping Plants With Like Needs

Sometimes it isn’t high maintenance that is the problem. You might be killing your low maintenance plants because you can’t remember the correct routine required by each plant. There are a few solutions for that:

  1.  Buy plants that all fall within a similar sunlight/watering/fertilizing/care category: Being able to water all your plants at the same frequency reduces the guess work. It also helps you maintain a consistent care routine you are less likely to forget.
  2. Group plants within your home by care category: If you don’t want to give up having a variety of plants with differing needs, try grouping them into similar care categories. Now you only have to remember that group A only wants to be watered when the soil is dry, while group B needs frequent watering and some misting.
  3. Create a ‘Plant Care Cheat Sheet’: Make a little cheat sheet about your specific houseplants. Make a section for additional notes and observations pertaining to their care. Include an erase-able checklist to write the last date that plant was watered/fertilized/cleaned.


Low Maintenance Doesn’t Mean No Maintenance

I learned the hard way that just because a plant is low maintenance doesn’t mean it is no maintenance. I would forget to water a plant for two months and wonder why it died… uh.

When you think, “but I’ve done everything and this plant just died”! Go ahead, consider some of these factors below. Don’t get me wrong, it might not be you, but then again…

  • Sunlight: Is your plant getting the required amount of sun for the right amount of time? Too much or too little can both be damaging.
  • Air Conditioning Vents: My heating and cooling system was wrecking havoc on some of my plants and I had no idea. I wondered why the leaves on my plant would turn yellow before the plant died. Turns out the irregular blowing of cold air was drying out some of my sensitive plants. Plus they couldn’t keep up with the dramatic changes in temperature.
  • Watering & Fertilizing Needs: Over watering is more often the culprit than under watering. Know the needs of your plant, whether they like to be moist or not, and how often they need to be fertilized (it can be overdone).
  • Potting Needs: Often a plant needs to be re-potted or placed in something that allows proper drainage. Often we ignore those needs and place them in the next cutest pot we find instead.


Your “black thumb” doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy houseplants. It simply means you must be aware of what fits with your lifestyle, and be more aware of the needs of the plants you bring into your home.

RELATED | 10 Ways To Keep Your Plants Watered On Vacation

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