I don’t like to say that people have black thumbs. At one point or another, we’ve all had what people might consider a black or brown thumb—that is, the great ability to kill anything green, particularly plants and gardens.
Though, I may make an exception for the author of today’s piece.
The title is Not a Plant Person from Heidi Epps, so I feel like I’m more so accepting her pledge when she says it, rather than deeming her story as validation. But let me tell you, this is one gardening mishap that I can say, with no fingers crossed, has never happened to me or anyone I know.
There are many ways to turn plants black, and I think Heidi may have found the most effective one.
A Gardening Mishap You Shouldn’t Repeat
This gardening mishap comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that inject gardening mishaps into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!
Not a Plant Person
By Heidi Epps
I am not a plant person. Example? I won an orchid once. It wasn’t long before No Name (that was its name) looked like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. I kept the potted brown twig for several months, then gave it to a friend who volunteered to take it. The next time I saw it, it was green and blooming.
I tried again. I asked Nancy, the nursery lady, one question: What are the heartiest, lowest-of-the-low-maintenance succulents here?”
Nancy sent me home with a squid agave and two fire sticks. This time, I decided to give them real names. Larry, Curly, and Moe? Too obvious. Aramis, Athos, and Porthos? Too obscure. Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato? Why, perfect!
Tomato’s plastic container fit perfectly inside a decorative ceramic pot, but Bacon and Lettuce needed larger pots. I, of course, had neglected to purchase potting soil, but look—here was some leftover sand the hardware guy once recommended to help secure my outdoor umbrella in a tin bucket. Fire sticks are desert plants, they like sand, right? So I mixed the sand in their potting soil and proudly transplanted.
After a week or so, Bacon and Lettuce started turning black. “Black Euphorbia?” said Nancy Nursery Lady. “I never heard of that. Was there something in the sand?” I go home and check the label on the sandbag. It read:
By Heidi Epps, published originally in 2021, in GreenPrints Issue #125. Illustrations by Marilynne Roach
Did you enjoy this gardening mishap? Have you ever done something as funny as this? I’d love to hear it!