How green is your thumb?

Meet Maxine and Helga.

Much to my dismay, they arrived at Casa Bella three weeks ago.

I say dismay, because I’ve never been a plant person.

It’s not that I don’t like plants.

It’s simply that I don’t have the green thumb that makes plants thrive.

The good thing is, I recognize this, and in doing so, I prevent a lot of houseplants from meeting an early demise.

The Significant Other, however, is the opposite.

He doesn’t admit that he has a “black” thumb and continues to bring plants home, convinced he has the magic plant touch.

As a result, a lot of innocent victims are sacrificed.

A couple of weeks ago, I shuddered when I saw him arrive bearing gifts in the form of two tiny house plants.

Noticing my reaction, he said, “What? Are you going to kill these too?”
“Am I going to kill them? Isn’t that what you do?”
“Absolutely not. Contrary to you, I have a green thumb.”
“Really? Is that the reason we’ve had to call the plant coroner twelve times in the past year?”
“You should channel that green-eyed monster into your thumb. Maybe then bringing these little guys home would be a happy event.”
“Maybe those little guys would be happier if you left them at the garden shop.”
“Your sarcasm is improving, Bella, but why don’t you save your strength and use it to care for our new housemates?”
“Not me. You brought them home. You take care of them.”
“Do you not see yourself capable of keeping them alive?”

And that’s all it took.

He knew me well.

His challenge was enough to make me reply, “Oh give me the damn things. I’ll show you!”

Fast forward three weeks and the plant babies, christened Maxine and Helga, are still alive.

Have I been a diligent parent and watered them? No.

Have I given them plant fertilizer and trimmed their dead leaves? No.

Have I repotted them and placed them in a prettier pot? No.

Are they still alive? Absolutely.

How can this phenomenon be explained?

I figured out the answer to that question today.

The Son stepped out with Roxy and as I set the table, I did something I do often: I talked to myself.

It wasn’t really talking, since all I was doing was rattling off items I had to buy at the supermarket.

Yet, as I called out flour, sugar, salt, I could’ve sworn I saw Maxine’s leaves move.

Intrigued, I came closer.

I saw how green her leaves were and how little Helga stood alert in her pot.

As I peered closer, I noticed Helga had sprouted new baby leaves.

Was it possible that these plants, which I didn’t remember having watered in the last week, were being kept alive by the sound of my voice?

Was all my self talk helping these ladies grow?

Suddenly, I remembered the many times I had seen my mom talking to her plants and thought she was insane.

Not ready to admit I had turned into my mother, I dismissed the thought.

Yet, what could have kept them from becoming corpses in the past few weeks?

The Son had been busy with midterms, the Significant Other had been away on two business trips, and Roxy, well, she didn’t reach the kitchen faucet.

I seriously doubted that Dennis, the poltergeist, had developed the ability to apparate and helped himself to a watering can.

Yes, hearing me talk day after day had kept these ladies alive.

Who would have thought.

Of course, it’s just a theory.

However, regardless of what has kept them alive, nothing’s going to stop me from greeting the Significant Other this afternoon with three words: “In your face!”

Yes, ladies, winning a challenge has that effect on me.

So today, in the words of James Brown, I feel good!

Helga and Roxy

New baby leaves
The lovely Maxine

Do you have a green thumb?


52 thoughts on “How green is your thumb?

  1. Too funny! I, too have an absolutely deadly black thumb – inside and out. Generally, I get to blame it on my cat, though, who loves to nibble on houseplants and, in the past several years, I’ve used her as the excuse not to have any houseplants at all. Hope she lives forever!

    1. Kario, I wonder why Roxy doesn’t nibble on the darn houseplants! Then, like you, I would have someone to blame! hee hee! Maybe you can let your cat come over some time. :)

  2. It’s hard to tell whether I have the green thumb or not, since I don’t keep plants. Neither me nor Significant Other want them in our home — we don’t like plants being in pots, we prefer seeing them in forests or some other natural place.

    On top of it, even if I did have a plant or two at home, I’d probably just forget the poor things.

    On the other hand, I don’t remember ever killing a plant. We’ve been known to co-exist in the past, while I still lived with my mother, neither the plants nor me talking much to each other, and we liked it that way.

    1. Ivana, I like the arrangement you had with your mother’s plants. That’s the kind of set up I want to have here. Unfortunately, these ladies have now won a piece of my heart and I’m stuck with caring for them. Lets see how that turns out! :)

  3. My mom used to talk to her plants too. I think that was a big 70’s thing :-) The claim was they like music too. My mom DID have lovely house plants….. I have a couple of house plants that are the kind most people can’t kill unless they never water them. Philodendrons. Yard plants, forget it. Unless they are drought tolerant.

    1. Michael Ann, maybe I should buy Philodendrons. I think they’d like me. I really think they would! :) And yes, talking to plants was totally 70’s thing. If I close my eyes, I can see my mother whispering to her plants, singing to them, and yes, placing a transistor radio next to them! Oh my goodness! :)

  4. —I Heart You Sooooooooo Much, Bella.

    Yes. My mom talks to her plants all the time & she says they love it, that they perk up, & they adore her talking sweet to them….

    She has AMAZING plants. Green. Lush. Healthy.

    It works! it really works!

    Love the photo of Roxy & Helga :)) Xxx

    1. Kim, but really, who wouldn’t perk up to the sound of Saint Shirley’s sweet voice, eh? I admire people who have the kind of plants you describe. But then, those people are also the ones with beautifully manicured lawns and wonderful homes. Sadly, I can’t relate. hee hee! Love you buckets, Ms. Kim! :)

  5. Wow…those beauties are thriving. Like you, I don’t have much of a green thumb, but there is one plant that seems to hang on when I ignore him (yes, it’s a he, because a girl would have gotten pissed and croaked by now.) The more I leave him to his dirty pot, his lack of sufficient soil and sound, he blooms like a teenager with a new crush. The rest of the plants? Sickly and decrepit. I’m embarrassed to call them my own. I will try your suggestion and talk to them, Bella!

    1. Annie, your male plant sounds like the perfect companion to these blossoming ladies! If we lived closer, we could arrange play dates! hee hee! Isn’t it funny how the worse you treat the poor plant, the more he thrives? Go figure. :)

  6. I always want to have green and growing things in my house, but I am very neglectful. A plant has to be hardy to live in my house. I do much better with the ones that grow in the ground outdoors.

    1. Shary, I agree. Outdoor plants are easier to take care of and they are heartier that the indoor variety. That said, I’m always amazed when I visit someone’s house and they have plants that look like they’re living in a greenhouse. I don’t know what it is and some people’s ability to nurture their plants so beautifully. I tell you, a green thumb is like a super power! :)

    1. Belle, I’ve embraced the fact I have a black thumb. What can I do? Some of us got it, and some of us don’t. At least gardening is not something I’m too heartbroken over. But, thankfully, these ladies seem like they still have a chance. Not like other victims that came before them! :)

  7. yeah, baby, I have a green thumb!, I’ve had same poinsettia for three years, I’ve own an African violet that grows to the size of a lettuce, and was divided to create three new plants, every of them with pretty flowers!
    And I think that too much care is bad for plants, too much water or too much fertilizer and they will die quickly!. I think my green thumb come from my absentminded and lazy personality!
    besos & green!

    1. Mrs. Allnut, I love that you have discovered that your green thumb works best when not a lot of excessive care is given to our plants. I believe that’s what makes the Significant Other have a black thumb. He over waters, over fertilizes and fusses too much. I say, live and let live. And yes, this old adage also applies to plants! hee hee! How lovely that you were able to divide your African violet into three new plants! I love African violets! Besos! :)

  8. You feel good and, clearly, Helga and Maxine are feeling good. Whatever it is, keep doing it–and do try to give them water every once in a while. I, like you, stink at houseplants. Which is why I keep all my plants outside in my patio. I figure Mother Nature can water them. So much easier to care for them when it’s not completely your responsibility, heh-heh.

    1. Monica, too right, sister. That’s exactly what my sister does. She buys tons of plants and they all live on her deck. It’s gotten to the point where the plants have taken over and there’s no place for a chair. Yet she claims that this is where the plants thrive since they get the right amount of water and sun from nature. She calls it, “lazy gardening.” :)

  9. Bella – You’re a treasure…No wonder the plants are blooming…they, like me, must be smiling at your ‘talk’. I’m going to be away starting next week…will catch up with your treasures once I’m back. Love ya!

    1. Corinne, thank you for your ever kind words, lady! Aw, I’m going to miss you but know that no matter what, you always come back! Love you right back, lady! :)

    1. Jodi, you see, I need readers like you! You bring helpful suggestions to the table and they’re even easy enough for me to do! hee hee! I’m delighted you like the post, sister! :)

  10. lol! :-) I love it! :-) While I don’t think of myself as having a green thumb, I do have Reiki, and I talk to myself. A lot. And, I have ghosts who are frequent visitors to my home. The couple plants I have are thriving, therefore, in spite of me forgetting them for days at a time. :-)

    1. I like how many tools you have in your belt, Hot Coco! You’re so savvy! I want to be just like you! I’m delighted you have frequent ghost visitors. I myself have a live in poltergeist that has been with us for decades! :)

    1. Jann, you know, I have a penchant for giving everything a name. You already know how I named the chair, Marcelo, the cat who watches Roxy, Alberto, and the poltergeist, Dennis. I chose Helga and Maxine out of the blue. It just seemed to fit their personalities. I know I sound crazy but I look at something and instinctively choose what I feel is the perfect name! hee hee! :)

  11. As a matter of fact, Bella, I do have a rather green thumb! Talking to plants absolutely helps, as does a bit of neglect now and then. When I start fretting over a plant, messing with its leaves, checking its soil for water, etc., that’s when I can be sure the blasted thing is gonna die!

    1. Debbie, Mrs. Allnut suggested the same thing in an earlier comment and I think you ladies are on to something! Maybe that is the key as to why these little ladies are still alive! Thanks for making me chuckle with your comment! :)

  12. Congratulations on your wonderful new companions! Looks like Roxy’s a little jealous though. When I actually set time and attention to gardening, I love it. It’s peaceful, and gives me time to think. Not to mention, it provides something amazing to look at afterward. When Tom Hanks shows his pride in Castaway by building a fire from scratch… that’s how I feel when I get a bloom. However, I can’t sustain that enthusiasm. When bugs get at my sweet potato vine and chew them all too bits, I give up on the whole garden. So sad. I know it will be something I get back to once there is more time. In the meantime, I must go hack off another limb of that miserable looking jade tree. Maybe it’s because I swore at it?!!
    PS. My mom used to talk to her plants too (we should query all our ’60’s and ’70’s moms to determine exactly what it is they were all growing. Philadendrums, my eye!

    1. Astra, it’s 2am where I am and I want you to know that your comment on the “Philadendrums, my eye!” just made me spurt hot chocolate everywhere! And I mean, everywhere! Oh my goodness, I’m still laughing! Priceless. Oh, and you’re right–Roxy is extremely jealous of Helga and Maxine. Now that I’ve taken to talking to them directly, it’s gotten worse. She runs to where the plants are and starts barking, the little minx! It’s funny to see. Now go hack off that limb on the miserable jade tree! hee hee! :)

  13. My thumb is the opposite of green, if there were such a thing. I kill plants. Even wrote a post about my murderous tendencies. All this time, all I had to do was talk to them? Really? God, I could have saved so many lives if I’d just taken a second to have a conversation with Bertha, ask her how she’s doing. Maybe I will. My husband insisted we not dig her out of our garden just yet. See if she sprouts any leaves on her branches next spring. In the meantime, I know who’ll be hearing all about my daily drivel.

    1. Laura, there’s still hope for Bertha! Come spring time, when she’s sprouted new leaves, you can bring her inside and turn her into your chat buddy. I think we should definitely start collecting data. I mean, we may be onto something! You with Bertha, Astra and the jade tree, me and Helga and Maxine. Could it be that I once again smell a revolution coming on! :) Come spring, I insist we revisit this subject of conversation!

  14. Maxine really is beautiful. But I must say, Roxy looks like she’s going to eat her! My husband is the green thumb in our family. Which is a good thing because I have a black thumb. I’m good with creatures who inhale oxygen, not with those that produce it.

    1. Leah, I’m starting to place Helga and Maxine far from Roxy. I think she’s a bit jealous of the attention they’re getting and I’m really afraid she’s going to nibble one of them! :) Your comment made me smile! I’m good with oxygen “inhalers” as well! Why can’t we be both? :)

    1. Emily, hello and welcome! I so happy to have convinced yet another person to come over to the dark side! hee hee! I’m delighted you enjoyed the post! :)

  15. You channeled the green monster to your thumbs successfully it seems! hahaha. They look healthy and lush! Good job :) I, unfortunately, don’t have a green thumb which sucks because I love plants. and I want a garden. I don’t want to bother my husband with all my plants because he already takes care of all our cats. I had a veggie garden growing in the backyard over the summer. And I was enthusiastic about it for a while, and spent a lot of time trimming the plants and whatnot, and then I got bored. I still got TONS of harvest. So yeah, I think just leave them to their own devices, and everything will turn out ok :)

    1. Laura, that’s the spirit! I don’t think I have what it takes to tend to a vegetable garden but I would love to reap harvest I don’t have to invest time in! In a perfect world, eh Laura? Your husband takes care of the kitties? What a guy! :)

  16. I have to work at it – it isn’t natural. I had success with an orchid, then nearly killed it by trying to repot it at the wrong time, with the wrong soil, and well, just wrong. At least he’s bringing you things. That’s a good guy if not a green thumb.

    1. Renee, you’re right. He is bringing things. I just wish they weren’t the living kind! hee hee! :) I hope your orchid survive but if it’s any consolation, those are the hardest to keep alive!

  17. I thought I was a plant God until I moved into my current house. I can’t keep a single green thing alive except for one obnoxiously large palm-like thing that is twice as big as I expected. I expect it to start saying “Feed Me!” soon. I wish I could throw it away, but since it’s the only thing that lives, I’ve had second thoughts. Don’t know why no plants will survive in this house.

    1. Julie, probably because the one obnoxiously large palm-like thing is scaring them dead! He sounds scary! hee hee! Think of it this way, ugly or not, it’s still something green which I’m told is a very soothing color. I wouldn’t know since all our plants have died until now. However, I’ll keep you posted. :)

  18. I think I mentioned this once before, but I only do silk plants and flowers. I buy fresh flowers for the kitchen, but that is the extent of my keeping plants. I am still surprised my kids are still alive. I don’t have a green thumb, but then again I am not all that interested in them, don’t talk to them, forget to feed ’em, water, etc., I know.. Fanny Farmer is going to send bolts of lightening my way. I am impressed your SO hoodwinked you into keeping them alive. That’s one for the men. :-)

    1. Brenda, that just goes to show you how crafty these men are at tricking us into doing their bidding! I’m not really a fan of artificial plants but if Helga and Maxine pass on to a better life, then I might have to start considering this as an alternative. For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the little misses will make it! :)

  19. My Mom had a green thumb. Actually, two of them. I didn’t inherit. Then my brother started up a hydroponic tomato operation and his wife’s house plants were quite suddenly amazing. I asked her what she did and she told me she used the water after it was circulated through the tomato plants. So I did that. Watered my plants with ‘treated’ water. Ta! Da! Magically, I had plants that stayed alive. Thrived, even. It was a whole new world. (I could sing the song if you’d like . . .)

    1. Diane, incredible how making use of a different watering system keeps our plant friends alive. Sadly, I don’t have anyone who uses a hydroponic watering system and I’m stuck with just a watering can. Here’s crossing my fingers that this is good enough for now! :)

  20. Bella,

    Bwah ha ha ha. You are mad as a hatter woman but I just love you! I talk to myself all the time and consider it my God given duty to love all things small. That means at any given moment you can find me chatting up the cat, cursing out the houseplants, exhorting them to stand up and grow or mumbling out the window at my garden misbehaviors. It’s fun dammit and I truly believe they hear me and need said encouragement. It’s energy in another form.

    I love the SO’s comment “Your sarcasm is improving. Why don’t you save your strength…” lmao. Congrats on winning the challenge. :)

    1. Coco, I’m super happy you’re another self talker! By the looks of it, we are not alone! hee hee! I’ll say this, if it weren’t for the possibility of talking to myself, I would have gone mad decades ago! And hey, a woman’s gotta do, what a woman’s gotta do to preserve her mental health. I’m just sayin’! :)

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