• The Olive Branch

Going from a plant murderer to a green thumb goddess

Updated: Jun 3, 2019

Growing up in a family of women who have gardening in their veins, I always felt like I was letting my grandma down every time I'd kill another plant. I was the girl who could find a way to kill the unkillable plant no matter how hard I tried or how much love I gave it. After doing my own research and talking to all of my green thumb'd friends and family, I decided to conquer my fears of murdering yet another plant and give it a go. This was going to be my year of having success, dag-nabbit, if it was the last thing I do! Just love me plants!

Okay... So how do I go from a plant killer to gardening expert?

Well it was no easy feat, let me tell you. I know I know, I'm literally making my plant journey sound like I'm studying for the LSAT's or something. To quote my favorite lawyer Elle Woods, "what, like it's hard?", oh but it was. Anyway, back to the plant journey, I decided to start small. And by small I mean with the plants that require little to no water or sunshine. Basically a fake houseplant with just a tiny pulse, aka succulents. I told my friend, Moira, who works at Barton Springs Nursery in Austin just how bad I was at plants and for one birthday she got me the coolest plant in a face-shaped pot whom I named Helga. Well, Helga is still alive people and that was two years ago. She, (Moira not Helga), has given me the confidence to try my hand at gardening over the years after I wanted to throw the towel in altogether. Her best advice, "Plants will die but it's a learning game and the only way to succeed is to try again." It's so important to not get discouraged and just like cooking, it's all about trial and error. Keep in mind your environment-- whatever you plant varies on the amount of sunshine, water, and what kind of temperature it needs to thrive.

My top herbs suggestions to plant this summer:

1. Basil- that's amore! Now you won't have to buy anymore basil from the store that will more than likely go bad 30 minutes after you open it; you'll have your very own to put on your homemade Margherita pizza and pesto! Basil is a rather low-maintenance herb and requires full sun and ample water. Pro tip: whatever you do, don't put basil in the fridge. It will shrivel up and die, and you'll feel sad.

2. Rosemary- iron, calcium, and b6 oh my! Rosemary has so many wonderful uses besides culinary dishes (lamb chops, anyone?) and can be used for many medicinal reasons. It has been used for centuries to help alleviate pain, improve hair growth, and boost circulation. It needs ample light and water, and also needs to be pruned regularly to promote new growth.

3. Thyme- this Mediterranean herb is one of my absolute favorites. From the smell to the benefits to the taste, I think thyme is very underrated and should have more recognition. Thyme can be used to treat a number of ailments such as stomach aches, sore throats, and it also has antibacterial properties. It's mostly a no-fuss herb and thrives in hot, dry conditions. Pro tip: add thyme to your brine for fragrant, yummy meats.

4. Lavender- hello you smell so good you beautiful little sprigs! I love planting lavender for a multitude of reasons. It wards off spiders (AKA my worst nightmare), it smells amazing (you can put some on your pillow and have the sweetest dreams of all time), and COCKTAILS! I like to make an easy simple syrup with lemon and lavender to make the most refreshing drink for those warm, patio weather days.

5. Parsley- everyone loves parsley. Or if you don't then I'm sorry, that's a bit weird. Parsley is great for a plethora of reasons. It's a diuretic which means it will aid in the detoxification of your kidneys, and it also has a number of top-notch antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin A. It's also one of the easiest herbs I've planted, like thyme, just requiring full sun and regular moisture. Add it to anything from chicken piccata to fish tacos!


1. Make a field trip to your local nursery. Just roam around and see what speaks to you. Usually they already have notecards for each plant telling you what they are and what kind of lovin' they require.

2. Don't be shy, talk to the gardening homies there. That's what they're there for and it's so worth getting their insight.

3. Don't try to overcrowd or overdo your garden. I'm so guilty of this. I get so excited and just want everything but it's important to know that your plants will need space and they will spread out. Detangling zucchini from your basil plants is not a Saturday well spent, trust me.

4. Be realistic of what will grow where you live. No matter how much I want an avocado tree, these surprise snow storms well into May would unfortunately zap that sucker into oblivion.

5. It sounds so corny, but HAVE FUN! You're growing something! It's rewarding being able to go pick whatever herb or vegetable and add it to your own homemade meal. Or if you have non-edible plants, just sit back and admire your hard work!

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