Solitary: A Self-Directed Spiritual Life

Let's talk. Come sit with me under a tree or by a lake while we chat about being alone in our practice and our beliefs. Solitary practitioners choose this path for many reasons and have a unique perspective. As a solitary witch, I want to share how I keep true to my beliefs and practices whether I'm working on my own, in a small group or attending a large group gathering. Author of Moon Affirmations, meditations based on the phase of the moon.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Curse of the Black Thumb

Spring has sprung and people are starting to talk about their gardens.  Mother Earth has banned me from her garden.  She has issued a restraining order which the plant police definitely enforce at every opportunity forbidding me to touch plants.  I grew up on a farm so you would think I should be able to grow things.  But literally every house plant I have ever tried to grow has died.  I even killed some lucky bamboo.  There goes my karma.  If my life depended on it, I could not tell the difference between sage or oregano.  I love plants.  They bring me peace.  Flowers make me smile every time I look at them.  But grow them?  Nope – strictly forbidden.

What is a plant killer like me doing to have plants in or around my house?  My salvation for having plants in the house is my husband who has a very green thumb – usually.  Of course if a plant dies then I get the blame.  While you don’t have to marry someone with a green thumb, my first suggestion is cultivate a relationship with someone who will help you with your plants.  In addition to my husband, I have two sisters who are very good at growing things both indoors and outdoors.  When I have questions about plants or need suggestions, I go to these experts first.

There are some alleged black-thump proof plants.  My one sister recommends cactus plants.  These are great as you don’t need to water them as frequently but just make sure they get lots of sunlight and heat.  For those who don’t know what that means – a window on the south that isn’t blocked by trees.  

A plant I’ve had some success with is the Jade Plant.  I don’t know the fancy name for it or the true needs of this plant.  I am usually given a piece of an established one, stick that piece in a pot of dirt, and then water it once a week or so.  Jades don’t need a lot of water but when they aren’t getting enough their leaves get wrinkled.

Aloe is another plant that is hard to kill.  Like the Jade plant, it likes a lot of light and doesn’t need a lot of water.  Plus the fluid from the leaves helps to heal burns and other topical issues.  However this plant can be poisonous so don’t let your pets or kids nibble on it.

The peace lily is another good plant for black thumbs.  It survives well in lower light and likes lots of water.  The one in our house sits on top of our entertainment center near a large window.  It gets indirect light and grows a lot.  When it droops it is time to water it.  If the leaves turn yellow it isn’t getting enough water.  One thing I especially like about this plant is that it produces flowers.  It blooms and is beautiful which adds a bit of pleasure to the home.

African Violets are another common and somewhat easy plant to grow.  These come in a variety of colors so get lots and brighten up your space.  They do well with moist soil but allow the soil to dry out between watering.  These little beauties don’t like their leaves wet so you need to water from a tray at the bottom of the pot.  They like indirect sunlight for at least 8 hours a day so put them near an east or west window.  This is a social plant and likes to have their own kind around, so make sure you have at least two of them.  This plant might be edging away from the easy level but they are so pretty it is worth the effort.

These are a few plants which do well with a black thumb person.  There are more, you have to do research and see what works best in your indoor environment.  Some other plants I’ve had suggested to me are the spider plant, mother’s in law tongue, and lucky bamboo.  I do want to caution those out there with truly black thumbs, I’ve killed lucky bamboo.  It wasn’t so lucky when it came into my possession.  But my daughter had one in her college apartment which is thriving nicely. 

One of the most common problems people have with plants is when and how much to water them.  For the plant challenged person, they go to one of the extremes by either over or under watering. A plant friendly co-worker of mine uses the aqua globes to regulate the amount of water in his plants.  He’s had good success with this product.  Using this product may solve one problem for the plant challenged.

My experience has been that if you do a lot of research, read information and educate yourself you can learn almost any skill.  Go to a local nursery and see if they offer classes or workshops to help.  Ask for help.  I have often called the local nursery and said, “I’m a plant killer, but I want…” and they are always very helpful.  I’ve also spoken with customer service for the mail order nurseries to get help in choosing plants for our yard.  Generally I’ve found the customer service people to be very helpful.  If you have a plant person in your life, recruit them to help in your training.  You might be able to scrub some of that black thumb away and turn it into something slightly less deadly.  Increasing your knowledge of plants and their care can come through books, the internet, classes and workshops.  All of these sources will help you be a better plant person – usually.

Rather than putting plants at risk in your home, you can turn to the outdoors and plant them in good old mother earth.  Gaia then generally does most of the care.  When we bought our house, there were horrible ugly bug infested pine bushes by the door.  Neither my husband nor I liked them.  So he tore them out.  Before anyone gets upset, we did try to salvage them and give them away but the bushes were too old and gnarled.  After much effort they were finally gone!!!  

In their place we have planted flowers, lots of flowers from rhododendron bush, lilies, to iris, violets, lavender, and a lot more I don’t even remember the names of.  Initially the plot looked pretty sad and scraggly.  However, patience and a few seasons has changed the plot to a beautiful and a bit of wild in our very generic neighborhood.  There are blooms and beautiful flowers all summer long.  The rainbow of colors in a variety of sizes and shapes offers a bright spot in my day.  From early spring to late fall, something blooms.  Each time I step out my front door, I look over to see my flower garden and it always makes me smile.  

These were mostly plants that were purchased through a fund raiser at my daughters work.  She brought them home and we stuck them in the ground.  Okay so I didn’t do a lot of the putting in the ground.  However, when we were looking at the types of plants to get I made sure they were plants that could go in the ground and stay there.  My husband (because really he is the plant person in our house) doesn’t like to fuss with stuff.  It goes in the ground and stays there – none of this plant in spring and dig up in fall.  That is too much work.

Sharing a backyard with five other people doesn’t afford us a lot of privacy.  Since we couldn’t afford our six foot privacy fence like we wanted, we opted to put in bushes.  I had a lovely time wandering around a web site for a nursery looking at all sorts of bushes.  I definitely just wanted something that would grow and be beautiful while eventually providing us with a bit of a barrier between us and the neighbors.  I spent an afternoon wandering the web site and bugging my sisters for advice.  Finally I called the nursery and said, I am bad with plants and I need help.  I had a lovely customer service person who knew what she was doing and helped me make the best decisions.  My daughters had requested a snow ball bush which we had at another house when they were growing up.  I had NO idea at all what it might be but when I told this woman about it she was able to direct me to a couple of choices on the web site to look at.  I discovered it was a hydrangea bush.  With a relatively small amount of money, I was able to buy enough bushes to create a living fence.  

When planning your outdoor landscape there are a few things to consider.  First, call the Digger’s Hotline before you order bushes.  In our yard we have a lot of electrical, gas, and other utility lines going through it.  We have a utility box in the corner of our yard.  So some of the bushes I bought we had to find new locations for because there was a gas line exactly where I wanted to plant them.  Now we did find new homes for them but it was disappointing to have to change our plans after the plants were purchased.  Had I gotten the information from the utilities first I could have planned more successfully

When you call them, they take about a week to come out and mark your lot so make sure you have that done before you order.  Otherwise your plants might die while you wait for them to come out to do the marking.

When ordering plants for outside, make sure you order plants that are appropriate for your climate zone.  This climate zone is based on plant needs for weather to help them grow.  A quick search for garden zones will provide you with a map of the different zones.  Some of these offer a zip code search to determine which zone you are in.  Knowing this will help you to buy the appropriate plants for your area.  

Another key factor for landscape planning, make sure you look at the product details and know the size of your space.  This will help you choose plants that fit the area you have available.  Look at the size the plant will be, how much sun it needs, and when it should be planted.  All of these are very important for your outside plants to be successful.  

While I would like to say that if you follow these steps you will lose your black thumb and might turn it green, I have to be honest and say my black thumb remains in place.  The best thing I have is my husband who lets me buy plants and he takes care of them.  Hopefully some of these hints will help alleviate your curse of the black thumb, but for those of us Gaia has issued a restraining order on… well just sit back and enjoy the beautiful work she does and try not to harm any more of her green friends. 


Teri Nesja, Elf Leaf Gardens 

Alicia Stone-Jackson 


Last modified on
As a solitary, I consider myself a pagan witch who is seeking. Residing in rural Wisconsin, by day I work as a clerical worker and at night I spend my spare time writing. Writing is my way of expressing my feelings about my world and life. Raised on a farm, I have a love for nature and am inspired by the beauty and power I find there. I've been married for 33 years and have three adult daughters. Some of my other interests include cooking, genealogy, reading and crocheting.  
Author's recent posts


Additional information