Whether your dream is to turn your home into a total indoor jungle or you just want to decorate with a couple cute succulents, there’s one element of plant ownership you’ll always have to master: keeping them alive.
And let’s face it, that task just seems to come easier to some people than others. But the good news is you can still have a thriving houseplant collection even if you think you have a black thumb (don’t worry, you don’t), as long as you follow the right advice.
“I find that a lot of people write off their first few bad houseplant experiences and chalk it up to not having a ‘green thumb,'” says plant consultant and stylist Maryah Greene. “However, my favorite thing is telling people that the ‘green thumb’ idea is a myth, and it’s actually about having the right plants for you and your space.”
“The ‘green thumb’ idea is a myth, and it’s actually about having the right plants for you and your space.”
Basically, anyone can have a green thumb if they want to, it just depends on your personality and what type of plant parent you want to be. If you’re the type of person who somehow always forgets to water your plants, that’s okay, just look for one that doesn’t need a lot of attention.
The one constant you should keep on hand? Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix, which has been blended to accommodate a wide variety of indoor plant life, is designed to be less prone to gnats (always a win), and boasts a nourishing formula that feeds for up to six months. Translation: It’s a foolproof choice, no matter your level of plant mastery.
To determine exactly how green your thumb is (and to help you figure out what houseplant you should get), we used Greene’s advice to create this handy quiz. So once you’ve got your results, bring home your plant baby with Miracle-Gro® and get started. Black thumb, who?
Take the quiz below to find out what shade of green your thumb is, then scroll down for the houseplant you should get.
So you don’t have the best track record of keeping plants alive. Before you give up on plant parenthood altogether, take a word of advice from Greene: Be prepared, and don’t get attached.
That’s right—instead of walking into a plant shop wondering, “What houseplant should I get?” then finding the plant that’s calling your name, bringing it home, and praying it doesn’t die on you (which is what most people do, for the record), Greene says it’s crucial to assess your space before you fall in love with a particular plant.
“If you have an empty spot on your bookshelf, take a moment to decide what kind of light this spot is receiving, what size plant you’re going for, and how much maintenance you’d like to commit to caring for what will go there,” she says. Then, you can narrow down your choices at the plant shop based on the parameters you set in advance. “This will ensure that your experience caring for this plant is much more successful, instead of just hoping that you chose the right one.”
A few low-maintenance plants she recommends because they can survive in a variety of light settings are snake plants (which only need water every three to four weeks), ZZ plants (which need about the same amount of water and are known for being hard to kill), and pothos (which need water just once every seven to 10 days).
Whether your lack of past plant success has been because you always over-water them, you don’t have much natural light at home, or you just can’t seem to figure out what they need, Greene’s advice might change your perspective.
Her advice to you is to try a plant that requires a little more maintenance, which may seem counterintuitive, but hear her out: “Sometimes plants that are considered ‘low maintenance’ don’t offer the care needs of someone who is looking to be a bit more involved in their houseplant’s growth,” she says. “Thus, I’d recommend houseplants that don’t require much more than weekly check-ins, but will produce new growth just as often.”
Basically, you might have been giving your low-maintenance houseplants too much love. Instead, try a Monstera deliciosa (which is the most forgiving of the monstera family, and enjoys bright, indirect light with weekly waterings), a maidenhair fern (which is a more advanced plant, but it enjoys the attention of daily misting, as long as you don’t keep the soil too wet), or a peace lily (which does well in shady areas with indirect light, and is a great “training plant” because its leaves droop when it’s asking for more water).
Not to pick favorites but… you’re Greene’s favorite group of aspiring gardeners, hands down. “The ‘not a plant expert but willing to learn’ group is definitely my favorite group of people because of their openness to try new things,” she says.
Her advice to you is not to let your eagerness to succeed as a plant parent deter you when something seemingly goes wrong with a new plant. “It won’t always be smooth sailing at first, so you can expect a few leaves to drop off as it begins adjusting to its new home,” Greene says. Just keep watering it as directed and maintain its desired light, regardless of how it looks for the first few days, and remember an adjustment period is normal.
When you’re picking out that new plant, she recommends selecting a calathea (because they’re somewhat high maintenance and good for anyone wanting to care for a plant that needs regular check-ins), anthurium (because they’ll add some color to an extensive collection of greenery), or a parlor palm (because their leaves are thin and palm-like, so they’re a great addition to any collection thats looking for something full of life).
Congrats, you’re a total plant pro. While you might be eager for your next challenge, Greene’s biggest tip for you is not to forget the basics (they’re how you became an expert, after all).
To keep from getting overwhelmed as you foray into different types of plants, she recommends keeping three basic tenets: Stick to a watering schedule, group plants with similar needs in the same location, and remember your light.
“Over time, you’ll become tempted to bring more plants home to try out different types,” she says. “You may really want to add that plant that needs direct light because it’s one of few that you don’t have yet, but if your space does not receive direct light, you’ll have difficulty caring for it.”
Her plant recs for the plant-care masters with lots of light? Pilea (which thrives in bright light), alocasia (which have full, uniquely shaped leaves and enjoy bright, indirect light), or the illustrious fiddle leaf fig (which is one of the pickiest houseplants because it requires at least five hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day). Grab your bag of soil and get growing, plant pro.
Sponsored by MiracleGro®
Top photo: Stocksy/Bonninstudio
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