Green Thumb Definition, Origin and Green Fingers Explanation

What is Green Thumb?

Have you recently developed an interest in gardening? or you might have decided to finally clear out your backyard and improve the abandoned garden back there?

Well, whether the inflammation in fruits and vegetable prices has put the gardening thought in your mind or the amount of spare time you have on your hands. Perhaps your recent visit to the doctor has led to you think twice about your health. Whatever the reason is gardening is a very popular hobby.

Gardening has many benefits. You grow your private fruits and vegetables that are pesticide and chemicals free i.e., healthier, and organic. Consumption of organic food ensures positive health is maintained. In addition, all the extra hard work with plowing, shoveling, and watering the seeds or plantlets keeps you on your feet and is an excellent way to sweat.

Individuals who develop a green thumb or have one already claim that getting “closer” to nature has significantly declined their stress levels and they are fresher than ever. Hence, gardening keeps you physically and mentally fit.

Though, what is Green Thumb?

If you google the words “green thumb” or look it up in a dictionary, then you will know that green thumb is referred to having a natural talent to grow plants well. It is the ability to make plants grow well, healthy, and successfully.

A green thumb is an American expression. The equivalent of a green thumb in the UK and Australia is Green Fingers. This phrase is used as “have a green thumb” or “have green fingers.”

So, if you have a green thumb or a green finger it means you are skilled at gardening.

Lastly, if you have a green thumb, you are a gardener, a grower, a propagator, or a horticulturist.

The Origin of Green Thumb

The origin of the green thumb phrase has two main proposals, both are writers in the early to late 20th century.

  • The infamous Oxford Dictionary has mentioned that the earliest use of the expression “green fingers” was by Mary Stuart Boyd in 1906 in her novel; The Misses Make Believe

The following extract from the novel proves as such:

What old wives call ‘green fingers’: those magic digits that appear to ensure the growth of everything they plant.

  • While others state that this phrase was first used in a novel by a South African writer named Stuart Cloete in 1943.

The following extract from the novel called Congo Song demonstrates as such:

Some men have “green fingers”. Plants like them.

But why green? why not red or blue?

Well, this phenomenon is derived from the stained hands of a gardener. The hands or the fingernails are stained green because of algae or leaves chlorophyll when working with plants for a couple of hours. Gardeners spend enough time handling and cutting plants which results in green stains on their hands.

Although, the gardeners nowadays may not have green thumbs, literally, as in green-stained hands because of the wide use of gloves. But they surely still have a green thumb because they are naturally skilled at growing plants. 

Final Words

Within the gardeners, the idiom green thumb is pretty easily known and explained. It might be a little tricky for the non-gardeners. If you have initiated your interest in gardening, but you fail to grow your plants properly then, unfortunately, you do not have a green thumb. This is because you are not naturally good at it.

However, do not lose hope. You may not be a natural green thumb, but you can learn and practice the skills till you master the gardening art.

Happy gardening!

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Hira Rana

Hira joined SheBegan magazine in 2018; and started writing on relationship topics. She is a well known Physiatrist and have co-authored chapters in various books on relationships and nerve breakdown topics. She is now an associate editor and loves to publish content pieces on relationship matters. She also conduct interviews with celebs for shebegan mag.

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