Plant cultivation is a hobby that's been around for centuries, but there are some common misconceptions about it. One of the most common is the idea that you either have a green thumb or a black one and where the phrases come from.
While those with green thumbs are known to be successful at growing and cultivating plants, those with a black thumb are said to be hopeless at taking care of anything green.
The truth is, it's not so black-and-white. There are plenty of people with self-professed black thumbs who have overcome their plant-killing tendencies and become proud parents to happy and healthy plants!
Green Thumb vs Black Thumb: Where do they come from?
Some people seem to be naturally better at growing plants than others. And while many of us struggle with keeping plants alive, some have no problem at all. They're like plant whisperers!
Where the phrase “green thumb” originates
“Green thumb” is a term that’s commonly used to describe someone with a knack for taking care of plants, shrubs, and other greenery.
Rumor has it that the terms come from during King Edward I of England’s reign (1272 and 1307). According to legend, the King was fond of green peas and so awarded a prize for the “greenest thumb”: the serf that shelled the most peas during the season.(i)
According to James Underwood Crockett, the term "green thumb" never really had anything to do with skill level, but rather from the stains gained on thumbs and fingers from handling flowerpots which indicated someone was a regular gardener.(ii)
Where the term “black thumb” originates
The phrase "black thumb", on the other hand, is used to describe someone who has difficulty taking care of plants. Although still a common phrase, it’s not quite as true today as where it comes from. It does, however, illustrate an important point: we all have different levels of experience with gardening, so what works for one person might not work for another.
If you're not a gardener but still find yourself wondering why some people can keep houseplants alive while others can't even keep an English ivy alive for more than a couple of weeks, then maybe it's time for you to try again!
Becoming a green thumb
With the right knowledge and commitment, anyone can become a green thumb! All it takes is an understanding of the best methods and a few tips to get you on the right track.
If you're new to plants, start with something simple like a succulent or cactus—they require very little maintenance and can even survive drought conditions as long as they're watered once every two weeks or so. They'll make an excellent addition to any room in your house!
If your plants aren't growing as well as you'd like them to, why not try your hand at plant propagation? Plant propagation is a simple and easy method that allows even the most hardcore black thumbs to enjoy greenery in their homes.
Plant propagation is the process of making new plants from existing ones. You can do this by taking cuttings from plants and propagating them into a water vial, container, or pot.
Plant propagation is a great alternative for those who aren't able to keep plants alive. It's also a great way to save money on plants, as you can propagate your own instead of buying them at the store. Low stress with less mess and no pests, plant propagation has tons of benefits and is ideal for new and existing plant lovers alike.
Plant propagation tips
Thanks to plant propagation, you can transform your black thumb into a green thumb in no time! If you want to try it out yourself, here are some tips:
- Choose a plant that’s easy to propagate. This includes spider plants, pothos, fiddle leaf figs, and philodendrons
- Take cuttings from new growth tips in spring or summer when they're not too succulent
- Keep an eye on your vials and containers and top up with water every few days or when it’s noticeably low
- Keep your propagation stations warm and in bright, indirect light to stimulate growth
- Avoid getting the leaves of your plant wet to avoid root rot – more on that nasty disease here.
The green thumb gang
For many people, keeping plants alive is a struggle. They're beautiful to look at, but they can be so hard to take care of!
But whether you’re a known green thumb or a self-professed black thumb, plant propagation is a great option for those who want to take their plant-keeping up a notch, but struggle to keep their plants alive.