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You can aquire a green thumb if you like growing plants and are willing to give them the care and conditions they require; if you enjoy working with them and are anxious to find out all you can about them.
There are dozens of varieties that you can grow indoors, provided you give them suitable soil, a fair amount of light, temperatures similar to those in their native habitat, water just before they need it, and, in most cases, a moist atmosphere. In the cold months you must shield them against drafts from outdoors. Your heating plant must not allow coal gas to escape, nor your kitchen stove release illuminating gas. You must watch for and combat insect enemies, virus, and fungus diseases.
Should these conditions seem too exacting for you, there are still some plants described in the following chapters that will withstand adverse conditions. Many ferns can get along on very little light, as can some plants whose forebears lived in the shade of the tropical forests. Some that will exist in an unfavorable atmosphere include aspidistra, sansevieria, ivy, and paper-white narcissi. Even they will be a source of interest to the young, the bedridden or the shut-in; they will make your home more cheerful and more healthful for their presence.
You can buy many young plants from a florist, you may pick up a good many at garden centers on the highway, or you may stop at a greenhouse and see what they have to offer. A wide variety of seeds, bulbs and juvenile plants are sold by department stores, the five-and-ten and chain food markets.
Take this book with you to botanical gardens when you have an opportunity; walk through the conservatories and identify the various plants. Get acquainted with the people in charge and find sources of supply from them. You will find them very cooperative, for there is a fraternity among gardeners, and you will learn that mostly they are anxious to help you. Your State experiment station will doubtless have a horticultural department with greenhouses; talk to the people there.
Join your local garden club. Exhibit at local flower shows and get to know your fellow gardeners. When you have gained a circle of gardening friends, see what you can exchange with them, especially in the way of slips. Watch the advertisements in the garden section of your newspapers, where many unusual things are offered. Subscribe to garden magazines. Get hold of all the catalogues you can. Write and ask questions.
The going is easy regarding seeds and bulbs. The larger stores are well supplied, though you may have to write up and down the country to find exactly what you are looking for.
Some of our most attractive plants are native wildlings. Find out what the regulations are in your State as to taking plants from the wild. Mark the position of a plant that catches your eye with a small garden stick label, revisit the spot in autumn or early spring, and dig up the root when the plant is dormant. Be sure to obtain the owner's permission to do so.