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There is No Such Thing As a Brown Thumb

So I’ve tried to write a blog at least three other times in my life, and since I’m obviously a world renowned blogger with ads all over my page and a movie about me, those clearly went well…. But I’m at it again now because I truly believe I’ve found something I’m passionate about. This first post might be a little too long, but I promise they won’t all be like this.

So let’s get to it:

There is NO SUCH THING AS A BROWN THUMB. For real. I’d say it louder for the people in the back but I don’t want to type it again. I hear this all the time. People look at what I’m doing and say “well you were just blessed with a green thumb.” NOPE. When I started out with plants I lived in an apartment that had almost zero natural light. It was like a cave. But Adam and I wanted plants. We needed the green. The life. We were at ground level and couldn’t keep our curtains open, so we tried to bring outside in. We started with two plants. They were the kind that comes with the little label “PLANTS OF STEEL”. You couldn’t kill them if you wanted to, was basically what that meant. Well guess what. I killed one of them. My poor Mother-in-law tongue. Plants need water right? This one didn’t… I killed it with kindness. So we got another one… and I killed that one too. So we tried some ivy. Dead. Some other plant that I don’t even know the name…. DEAD. All dead. The only one that survived my period of plant murders? The ever faithful ZZ plant. I’ll talk about it in another blog, but here’s a picture of one:


ZZ Plant

Really is a plant of steel

So many plants suffered by my apparent brown thumb. I decided to give up. I stopped watering the ZZ plant assuming it would die like the rest (that only made it grow stronger) and I decided plants weren’t my thing. So life went on and we moved. My mother, seeing the discarded remnants of my latest snake plant, told me not to give up. I was moving to an apartment with a balcony. We were on the third floor. “You can grow plants here” she said. I didn’t believe her, but in February of last year I tried again. Take a good look at those plants in the picture because you’ll never see them again. Every single one of them is dead. Most of them I killed, a few of them were killed by winter.


I was determined to do this, though. My apartment has amazing natural light. Lighting a photographer dreams about having in their own home, and I knew that I could grow SOMETHING in it. It didn’t take me too long to realize I was trying to grow yard plants somewhere they wouldn’t thrive. I needed to get away from flowers and random porch plants and move to indoor plants. I had to find plants that I could really focus on and work with. Every plant is not for everybody. That’s why I say brown thumbs aren’t real. You CAN find something that will grow.

“So what should I do, Merri Lynn?”

Start small. Bring home one plant, not three. Pay attention to the little cards. They are there for a reason. No card? No buy. You don’t need it. You aren’t ready for that kind of speculation. But Merri Lynn it’s really cool! Ok fine. Research it. Stand in Home Depot and Google. I do EVERY. TIME. Ask the people in the garden section. They may not know an answer, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Just start somewhere small. We’ll get into what soils to buy, plant food to get, and what to do if pots don’t have drainage holes (“Merri Lynn the pots with drainage holes are ugly… “ I know right?!) But none of that matters right now. Right now you’re just bringing your first plant home. Find that indestructible ZZ plant, or a succulent or snake plant. Find a plant you love the look of. Something you would be sad to see die. Read the card. Pay attention to light. Pay attention to water.

So you’ve decided on your plant now. Cool dude. You got this. Really. You do. Because you just bought one. RIGHT? Put that other one down. I see it. Don’t. DO. IT. Learn from my mistakes and start with ONE! Ok now find it a pretty pot. (In my opinion a white one. They show off that green plant the best. But you do you.) Preferably one with drainage. It needs to be able to sit comfortably in the pot while still in its nursery pot, but it doesn’t need to be too much bigger than the nursery pot. Sit it down inside all the way and if the edges of the nursery pot hit the new pot you’ve got the right size. And that’s it. That’s all you need to buy right now. It was probably fertilized recently by the nursery so don’t worry about getting any of that. You don’t need soil because you won’t be repotting yet. Just buy those two things (put that other plant down!) and go home.

Once you are home look at the card again. Double check the lighting and then look around your house. Where do you think this plant would like to live? Most of mine like being near a window. My snake plants and ZZ plants like living everywhere. Even my windowless bathroom. If you have a window in your bathroom that’s a fantastic place for a plant of most any kind because of the humidity. Most plants are not going to like direct sunlight, so look for a place that has indirect light most of the day. Found a spot? Great. Now put your plant, nursery container and all, into the pot you bought and place it in that spot. And then you are done. I learned this little tip from The Plant Doctor . Those plants in the nursery are doing really well in the pots they are already in, so let them stay there for a while. They can stay in that pot until the roots begin growing out of the bottom, or until you feel your plant has established itself in its spot in your house. So just let it hang out in that pot for a while. Don’t get ahead of yourself by worrying about repotting.

My next post will be about sunlight and watering. So be on the lookout for that. For now you don’t need to worry about watering. It might have gotten a little too much at the nursery (especially if it’s a big chain store) so just let it be. It’ll be okay for a bit. And if you do water make sure to pour the water out of the decorative pot.

For now just keep an eye on how it’s adjusting, and don’t move it too much. Let it rest. And now you have your first plant! It may live. It may die. But you have to start somewhere. I still make mistakes all the time. I still kill plants. But that’s why I’m writing this. To help you bypass my mistakes. We. Got. This.

Merri Lynn RoarkComment