Curse of the Black Thumb

Houseplant in window
Source: spinster cardigan, Flickr

We begin with the noblest of intentions. We buy packets of seeds and good potting soil. We plant. We water. We fertilize. We carefully position for maximum sunlight. And then we watch a variety of our green leafy plants die a slow, tragic death. Take a deep breath. Look hard at your thumb. Is it as dark as the over-watered roots of your last victim? Spring is here, and now is the chance for us to redeem ourselves! Plants offer so many benefits, both physically and mentally, so let's see if we can find a way to "grow" our gardening skills:

37 Houseplants Even You Can't Kill by Mary Kate Hogan. Full of simple advice and a chapter devoted to plant problems, this small book is a perfect for novice gardeners.

The Anxious Gardener's Book of Answers by Teri Dunn Chace. In addition to container gardening, there is full-scale gardening advice for the more ambitious gardener. Each section of the book has a "If I Goofed, Can I Fix It?" sub-section. A suggested reading list and online resources offer further help.

The Complete Guide to Houseplants by Valerie Bradley. A great selection for anyone looking for some design elements along with practical tips. Areas of the book include "Plants for a Sunny Room," "Plants for the Bathroom," "Low-maintenance Plants," along with the how-to on potting, transplanting and routine care. A plant care directory lists specific plants along with tempting beauty shots of foliage and flowers.