The Slacker's Guide to Gardening In 6 Steps

It may seem like a dream as idealistic and unattainable as Gatsby's green light: the tending of a garden. You, too, reach out longingly at the greenery — but not from a dock like Gatsby does; instead, you're outside the florist, gazing at the ferns. "I, too, can grow a plant," you think. And you tell yourself, "This time will be different."

You select a potted shrub. You nod your head at the florist's advice about sunlight and twice-weekly waterings. But internally, you're thinking, "I will name him Henry. I will Instagram him like crazy." You take him home and place him on the window ledge, promising him a good life. But no matter how disciplined a waterer you are, two weeks later, his leaves are crisp and droopy. Henry is a goner, fodder for the dumpster. You sob. You stay home from work. You wonder what went wrong.

If your life is marked by recurring periods of horticulture-hope and horticulture-grief, don't give up yet. You needn't experience the shame and heartache of another failed attempt at gardening. Plants needn't be a huge investment in time, money, or emotion. They can actually be easy! Here is a Slacker's Guide to Gardening, for any aspiring gardener who hasn't yet given up.

Image: The Sill

by Claire Luchette

Select Your Plant Wisely

It can be tempting to choose plants based on looks alone, but as with romance, appearances aren't everything. A good-looking plant may be high-maintenance and not a good match for the common Slacker.

A common myth is that succulents (little cacti) are easy to take care of. Wrong-o! They're "temperamental" and "fragile," fashion designer and "hobby gardener" Richard Chai told T Magazine. Instead, easy plants to take care of include: Bird's Nest Fern, the Snake Plant (or Mother-in-Law's Tongue... !), ZZ (or Eternity Plant), and Boston Ivy.

Image via Getty

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

(Or Have Other People Select Your Plant)

Either talk to a florist about your lifestyle and what your home is like, or check out The Sill, an online florist that "bridges the gap between plants and people - offering products and services that fit with your personal style, your lifestyle, and your budget." You simply pick the pot and color you'd like, and The Sill supplies the plant and the easy-care instructions. They are also around to counsel you through the throes of plant-owning: "We are always available to answer questions and hold your hand should your plant mate require extra TLC," they promise, as well as a guarantee: "If for any reason your plant dies in the first 30 days, we will replace it – no questions asked." It's like a plant support group!

Image: The Sill

Water Well

Watering plants can easily be a Goldilocks situation: What's too much? What's too little? You can't really tell by looking. The experts check water levels by sticking a finger about an inch below the soil near the outer edge of the pot. If that inch of soil is dry, most plants should get a drink. Water from the middle of the pot and move out, and water until you see a little dribble come out the bottom of the pot, then stop.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Tips on Sunlight

Your florist will probably give you sunlight exposure instructions, and you can heed Richard Chai's explanation about what that means: "Direct sunlight is within 2 feet away from a south- or southwest-facing window. Bright light is within 4-5 feet of an east- or west-facing one, and 3-5 feet from a window facing south or southwest. Partial light is east facing or around 5 inches away from a south- or southwest- facing window. Shade is 6 feet away or more from a south- or southwest-facing window, or directly in a north-facing one."

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Indoor Gardening

You can find ways to get your plants the Vitamin D they need even if they'll live in a windowless place. In 2010, Tibor Fuchs, the then-president of the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the Indoor Gardening Society of America, gave readers instructions for installing an artificial light set-up that will work for almost any plant, including orchids, begonias, and herbs.

Image: Getty

Oli Scarff/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Foster Your New Relationship

Have fun with your plant! Pick a cool pot, decorate it for the holidays, Instagram it like crazy. Talk to it. Trust it. And trust yourself. You can grow a plant, Slacker!

Image: Getty

WPA Pool/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images