What To Do If You Have a Black Thumb

Hard-to-Kill Plants & How To Cope After a Plant Dies
two cartoon plants, one with a happy face that is alive and one with a sad face that appears to be dying

Plants are great! Caring for plants can aid in mental and physical health. Nature can bring us peace. Plants can even offer benefits like emitting a fresh scent or cleaning the air. Check out our post on plant therapy for more info on all the good that can come from plant care. Many people are great at keeping plants happy and healthy, but not everyone is gifted with a green thumb. Even if you're not the best with plants, you can still enjoy all they have to offer and benefit from caring for them. Fargo Therapist Sheridan Averson explains how to cope if you have a black thumb:

Which plants are easy to care for?

I always recommend that people start with only a single plant or similar species so their care schedules are not too hard to understand and implement. The easier plants to keep are plants like Snake Plants, ZZ Plants, and the more “poky” variety of succulents like Aloes and Cacti.

Sheridan Averson's cats

Before getting a plant, do your research on it. Most plants in stores have at least a common name or their scientific ones, so don’t be afraid to Google it; learn what types of soils, light preferences, and watering schedules they like. I also highly recommend that people don’t repot their plants until it has been several seasons, as that plant you just bought has been through too many changes. It will need time to adjust to its environment. I honestly only repot my plants when they outgrow their containers or if my cats knock a pot over and break it. ?



What should you do if you have a black thumb?

Plants don’t live forever, so it is okay to grieve their deaths, but it is also sometimes unavoidable. I often use my plants as a coping skill: I prune them, remove dead growth, separate pups (baby plants!), and repot them. It can be a highly rewarding task, especially when a plant finally blooms or grows those new leaves.

Sheridan's aloe plant
Sheridan's snake plant

If you do end up killing a plant, don't beat yourself up about it. Plants can die even if you do everything right. It's okay to be sad. Let yourself feel your feelings! Use that passion to move on to a new plant and give it extra love! A lot of people have a black thumb, but that doesn't mean you can't turn it green with a little practice.

Pictures, left to right: My zebra plant growing a flowering stalk for the first time in 8 years, and my Aloe vera plant blooming for the third year in a row. 



Meet the Author: Sheridan Averson

Sheridan Averson photo

Sheridan Averson, MS, LAPC, is an Employee Assistance Program Counselor at The Village's Fargo location. She received her Bachelor of Science at NDSU in Psychology and her Master of Science in Clinical Counseling through the University of Jamestown. Sheridan has an affinity for mixing and matching research-based therapy techniques as a way to tailor services to each client. She has a special interest in Horticulture Therapy, where plants and plant-based activities are utilized during sessions to provide a calming focus and environment to clients. This is partially due to her inherent love for plants and gardening, and she boasts a collection of over 50 plants in her home.

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