Black Thumb Gardening, Part I

Some of us (and your Humble Writer may be included) seem to have a black thumb instead of a green one -- that is, just about every plant we try to grow keels over and dies on us, no matter how well we care for it. And there goes all that investment in time, effort, and gardening supplies, right down the drain.

Maybe it's just that we can't follow the directions right, or don't really water enough, or water too much...or maybe we've just got the touch of death when it comes to green growing things. Well, if you haven't had any luck and are about ready to give up and try plastic flowers... well, don't throw in the trowel just yet.

From Black to Green

It just so happens that there are plants that are almost impossible to kill, short of taking a weed-whacker or machete to them -- so you don't have to be held hostage to your lack of plant-nurturing skills, and can thumb your "knows" at those green thumbs who make it look so easy.

This is for you, black thumbs of the world! In this two-part article, we'll discuss a few plants that even you (probably) can't kill. Most of these plants can handle a wide variety of soil and moisture conditions with ease, and some of them can even thrive in poor light. Let's start with the ornamentals.

Easy Flowers

You probably won't be growing any prizewinners anytime soon, but believe it or not, many roses are tough. I suggest the hybrid tea and climbing roses; usually, all they need is a lot of sun and occasional watering. They can handle heat and dryness, but don't let them go without a drink for too long.

I also recommend red roses exclusively. Most other hues have yellow flower genes, and are susceptible to the well-named Black Spot disease, which can kill roses over time.

Other hardy flowers include pansies for the cooler parts of the year, because they can survive cold weather, even solid freezes. Four o'clocks, daylilies, black-eyed Susans, marigolds, vincas (periwinkles), impatiens, and purslane are also pretty easy to grow...especially if you raise them in self-watering containers.

That way, you only have to water once a week or so.

Other Ornamentals

When it comes to houseplants, try these guys, all of which not only handle indoor temperature ranges and lighting very well, but are attractive to boot: Aluminum Plant (Pilea cadierei); Devil's Ivy (Epipremnum aureum), a.k.a. Golden Pothos; Screw Pine (Pandanus utilis); and Spider Plant (Cholorophytum comosum).

Well, we're off to a good start! Next time, in Part II, we'll look at more hard-to-kill plants suitable for the black thumb gardener -- specifically, vegetables.

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