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How is this possible? This is Florida, and I just killed a palm tree.
I stared at the dead palm tree in my front yard, brows furrowing…shocked, but kind of impressed. Apparently, even native species can’t escape my deadly superpowers!
I’m tempted to blame the cold “winter” that caused our part of the Sunshine State to dip into the low 40’s night after night, but this is kind of a common occurrence.
Not me killing palm trees that is—that was a first—but all plants in general.
I have a brown thumb.
I either water them too much or too little. They somehow get too much sun, or they don’t get enough. So many plants are just so stinking sensitive, that one touch from my infamous brown thumb sends these poor plants to the graveyard. The leaves turn crispy brown no matter how hard I try to nurture them.
And yet, over the years I have found (mostly by accident!) a handful of easy plants that have resisted becoming part of my unfortunate track record.
Hope for Brown Thumbs
These low-maintenance plants are super easy to care for, simple to grow, and some even thrive on neglect!
Which means if you too have a brown thumb who dreams of a lush and inviting front lawn, but worries it will never look like the pages in HGTV magazine, you’re in luck. The following non-finicky flowers and shrubs are about to become a major confidence-booster.
I’ve even labeled which zones they thrive in, so you can look up where you are and plan (and plant) accordingly!
Even a Brown Thumb Can Grow These Plants!
While technically a wildflower, forget-me-nots were a favorite of mine when I lived in NY. My grandma grew them as ground cover in her garden and transplanted a few over to mine. They immediately took hold, spreading quickly to fill in the gaps between other plants.
Their hardy, resilient nature seems to survive best when left alone. Easy to grow, and easy to share! (Zones 4-9)
I first found out about this easy plant in a Southern Living magazine, and I immediately loved all the vibrant colors available. They are tolerant towards all sorts of things, and (miracle of miracles!) they grew even when my brown thumb forgot to water them.
They’re annuals, which means you have to plant them again every year, but I think they make a great, leafy addition to a garden when you need something to contrast with flowers. (Zones 3-11)
The common daisy survived for a couple years in my garden until the flood hit our home in NY. (At least I like to think that’s the reason they didn’t come back!) I promptly re-planted them because they’re just so beautiful. They can get pretty big, so make sure you trim them back every year.
Note: Though I love Gerbera daisies, I’ve never had much luck with those. My advice? Stick to the original. (Zones 5-8)
4. Knock-Out Rose
My grandparents gave me a rose plant as a birthday gift after I oohed and aahed over the ones they had at their home. These Knock-Out Roses are just so gorgeous—it’s one of the easy plants I wish I could have taken with me when we moved to Florida (alas, we live in a different zone now!).
Don’t forget, you need to prune them pretty ruthlessly after the last frost (before it starts to bud) so the plant can re-bloom a few times throughout the summer. (Zones 4-9)
A fan of blazing heat and loamy soil, the Bird-of-Paradise plant features eye-catching flowers and grows very quickly. In the year since I’ve had mine, it’s nearly doubled in size! However, they can also be grown indoors if kept in a sunny spot with regular watering. (Zones 9-12)
We had so many of these plants in New York. They’re some of my favorites because guess what? You can literally throw them in a corner, and they take root no matter what you do. For a brown-thumbed gal like me, they’re the perfect solution to a sad front yardscape!
When they get really big, you can just separate them into 2-3 smaller plants to add to different areas of your yard, or give some away to friends. If this is the only plant you try, you’ll definitely find success. (Zones 3-9)
I think daylilies are just so pretty, and they expand a little bit more every year. Again, they’re super easy to grow; you don’t have to tend to them at all. My only complaint is that I wish the flowers lasted just a little bit longer! (Zones 3-10)
Depending on how you prune this tropical plant, Bougainvillea can be tamed as a shrub or shaped into a tree. It thrives in full sun and sandy soil—AKA Florida!—and I barely have to touch it except to give it a trim 1-2 times per year. Plus, it blooms constantly, which makes for a pretty pop of color in our front yard. (Zones 10-11)
9. Aloe Vera
Confession: I have killed aloe once, but that’s because one of my bunnies knocked over the pot and dug at the roots! Generally though, it takes a lot of neglect to destroy a low-maintenance houseplant for beginners like this one since they barely need any watering at all.
The healing properties are pretty cool too—all you have to do is cut open a leaf and squeeze out the gel and voila! Homegrown remedy to any minor burn (including sunburn!). (Zones 9+ if outdoors)
Every time I walk out our front door and see all the plants that haven’t been sent to the garden graveyard (yet!), I begin to think maybe my brown thumb isn’t all that bad. Maybe all of us have a green thumb deep inside that just needs a little bit of nurturing…
Then again, maybe we brown thumbs just need easy plants that aren’t so particular!
Whether you have a brown thumb or not, what is your favorite plant to grow? If you’re a plant whisperer, do you have any gardening tips for me? Or more no-fuss, easy plants I should try?
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