The One Plant Phrase I Refuse to Say

By Jackie Maahs
Guest Writer

Okay Ladybosses – I am just going to come out and say it. I am going to get it in writing for all the world to see.

I HATE the phrase “green thumb.”

It’s true. I am not a fan – you know why? Because too often people use it as an excuse. 

“Oh, I don’t have a green thumb.” 

“Yeah, no green thumbs on these hands.” 

“Who has two black thumbs and no plants – this girl.” 

Rarely do you hear someone boasting about their green thumb. You know why? Because people who own a lot of plants know that in the process of building their beautiful plant collection, they have failed…A LOT! For every plant you see in my home, I have probably killed one just like it. (I can hear all the plant parents out are shouting out a little ‘amen’ right now). 

Photo: Nicole Midwest Photography

So why do I do it? Why do I take care of plants even though I know they may eventually die – because all the times I get it right, all the times a plant makes it when I think there is no way it’s going to pull through, I learn something.

This summer I brought the plant of my dreams. It had been on my bucket list for years, and every time I stepped foot in a plant shop, I would be on the lookout. This September I finally found it! An 8-foot-tall Bird of Paradise – a majestic plant with tall stalks that end in lusciously green, broad leaves. It looks like something you would see standing proudly in the corner of a mansion in a 1970’s period drama. It is stunning. 

A few days after I got it home however, I noticed it had brought along some hitchhikers. When dusting off those luscious leaves I found some not so friendly plant pests, including the infamous mealy bugs. Waaahhh! At first, I was bummed – trying to de-pest a plant of this size was going to be A LOT of work, and I didn’t even have that much pest management experience. Usually when I get a plant with bugs on it, I just throw it out. It’s not worth the effort. But this was my DREAM plant and there was no way I was going to just chuck it. So, I decided to take on the challenge, and after a couple weeks of pest management, guess what… the pests are still there. Gotchya. Sorry, no happy ending here. 

When I realized my plant had a pest problem, I wanted to keep it a secret. I didn’t want others to know because I thought they would look down on my planet parenting abilities. But once I realized that it wasn’t something to be ashamed of, I was able to grow through the experience. It gave me an opportunity to share about my pest management learning experience and to be real about plant struggles.

So, it doesn’t matter what color thumbs you have – go to your nearest plant shop and get just one plant. Give it a fun name like Florence, and this time worry less about keeping it alive, and focus more on learning a thing or two. It’s incredible what a plant can teach you. 

About Jackie Maahs

Jackie Maahs is a plant parent, crafter, and lover of the outdoors. Jackie’s passion for the environment has led her to a career focused on helping organizations become more sustainable. She worked in the recycling industry for three years before her current role as the Sustainability Coordinator at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Additionally, Jackie owns The Plant Supply, a small business that is focused on helping people grow happier through houseplants. The Plant Supply’s main product line are beautifully modern concrete planters, designed to make plant care easier. Jackie loves making macramé plant hangers, air plant holders, DIY kits, and really anything plant related. She also sells houseplants such as succulents, cacti, and air plants. Follow @theplant.supply on Instagram for great plant tips, or visit www.theplantsupply.com to learn more about The Plant Supply’s products and services.