Growth Lessons: Valuable Insights Gardening Teaches About Life

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Ah, gardening. It’s a delight to me in every sense of the word. There are days where I find myself chained to my desk, but daydreaming about working among the buzzing bees, sniffing the fresh petals of new blooms, crunching into a just-ripened green bean, and feeling the soft, enriched earth between my fingers. Gardening is my thing…it’s my solution to all problems.

It’s true that gardening is a delight to the senses, but as a true gardening enthusiast, I know that there’s so much more to gardening than just the sensory and physical experience. There are also life lessons to be learned from gardening.

Gardening has various physical and health benefits, but what do we learn if we look at gardening as a metaphor? That’s what the below life lessons serve to do. It’s true that gardening can teach us valuable life lessons. I have learned a lot from gardening myself. If you would like to find out how gardening has taught me many special life lessons, read on – I would love to share these valuable nuggets of inspiration with you.

In all my years of gardening, I have learned far more than just 20 life lessons. However, I feel that these 20 are of the most value to avid gardeners or even newbies to the community of green fingers. Let’s take a look at how gardening has taught me these things.

20 valuable life lessons gardening has taught me:

1. Always consider different perspectives.

When I first started gardening, I would look at a plant and assume that I knew what was best for it. I would pot it or plant it, I would water and feed it, I would position it – all of this was based on what thought was best. In the end, some of the plants made it clear that my ideas of what was best for them, wasn’t quite what they had in mind. 

From my perspective, everything seemed great and should have worked, but from the plant’s perspective, things weren’t so great. Due to a process of trial and error, I eventually learned the importance of considering the plant’s perspective first…and this is something that has proven useful in other areas of my life and human interactions too.

2. A positive outlook is absolutely essential.

In my garden, plants sometimes take a knock from nature. It could be excessive heat, heavy rain, hail, or even an insect invasion. In these cases, I have learned to assess the damage, do what I can to help the plant, and be positive that it will pull through. If I only focused on the negative, I might not see fit to assist the plant, and it could end in its ultimate demise. This positive outlook on even negative situations seems to have filtered through into all areas of my life.

3. Adaptability is essential.

Whether you bring a plant home from the nursery or grow one from seed and then need to transplant it, that plant needs to learn to adapt fairly quickly in order to survive. Some plants take a knock and spend a few days looking wilted or discolored, but in the end, they adapt and start to make the most of their new environment. This has taught me that being adaptable is essential to growth and that we should make the most of the environment that we are in.

4. Even the smallest growth is to be appreciated and celebrated.

In life, we tend to take a look at small personal growth and discredit it. Perhaps you lose 1kg on your diet instead of the 5kg you were aiming for. Or perhaps you have only learned 5 new words of that new language you are learning, instead of full sentences. Any growth is growth towards reaching your goals. Plants have taught me this. 

Even the smallest amount of growth is essential in a plant’s life. Without it, it wouldn’t be able to reach the next stage, which is possibly the stage that spurs them on to thriving.

5. Be consistent and reliable.

Plants are plants. They do what they do. You won’t find a Chamomile flower responding to certain conditions favorably one day and then unfavorably the next. You won’t find a red rose changing color to become a different color by tomorrow. Plants are consistent and behave reliably. I learned that this is actually quite valuable in my own life. 

The more reliable and consistent you are, the better things can go for you, because people learn to trust and respect you for whom and what you are.

6. A little bit of dirt is good for the body and soul.

Before I became an avid gardener, I must admit that I wasn’t too keen on getting my hands dirty. Now, I love digging my hands into the soil and making a mess. The end result is always something beautiful. Getting my hands dirty has become a great way to relax and unwind. I also learned that it’s good for my health because the soil has bacteria in it that’s good for your immune system. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

7. Death is the circle of life.

For many, including me, death can be a scary concept. It can be so scary to think about that we, as humans, put it out of our minds. We never give much thought to the fact that we are approaching our deaths (I hope that thought doesn’t stress you out too much right now!). By encountering plants going through their natural cycle of birth, life, death – repeat, I have become more comfortable and understanding of the concept of death and how it is part of the circle of life.

8. Failure is a driving force of success.

In the garden, when a plant doesn’t take to its new environment or when a design idea fails, you don’t give up. Instead, you try something new. You assess the situation; you Google possible solutions, and you get right to work trying to rectify the situation. I have learned that this very same approach can work wonders in life. In fact, mistakes often result in success because once you know what doesn’t work, you can create scenarios that do work in your life. 

9. Relying on others is important and necessary.

My plants are my babies. I spend time tending them often. Without my care, the plants in my garden would wither and die. For a long time, I didn’t give much thought to this. I am an independent person, and often I struggled to rely on other people. Until I realized that my plants rely solely on my care. And because of this lesson, I have become more focused on allowing myself to rely on others. Their care and support might just help me to get to where I need to be quicker.

10. Selfishness is merely a hurdle to your ultimate success.

Something I have noticed over the years is that plants lack selfishness. Even if you aren’t the best gardener, your plant won’t purposely punish you for it. Instead, your plant will do the best it can and give as much as it can, regardless. This has taught me that holding back and being selfish won’t do much for my progress, and it is better to always be the best I can be and give as much as I can, if I want to progress easily. 

11. Purposeful acceptance of other’s differences.

Accepting others with all of their quirks and differences is something I learned from gardening. After all, all the plants in your garden are different in some way or another. Yet they are also all quite essential to your overall creation.

12. Creativity and hard work offer great rewards.

A beautiful garden is impossible without a healthy dose of creativity and hard work. The harder I worked and the more creative I was willing to be, the better my garden became. That is something that I have learned applies to other areas of life too. 

13. Being alone is sometimes where the magic happens.

Gardening can be done as a family or as a group, but often it’s done solitarily. I have found that I can do a lot of thinking and processing of emotions while I silently work in my garden. This is where many of my personal breakthroughs and growth have come from. 

14. Nothing thrives without consistent hard work and dedication.

If I only tended my garden when I had a free moment or if I wasn’t willing to do the heavy lifting, digging, wheelbarrowing, and other hard tasks, my garden would be simply average, instead of the awesome garden, it is today. I have a set gardening schedule that I dedicate my time to. In life, it is much the same. If you are consistent in your efforts and committed to your causes, you will thrive. 

15. The consequences of being irresponsible.

One of the biggest lessons I learned as a gardener was that of consequences. At one point, I got thoroughly distracted from my gardening tasks and was quite irresponsible. It seemed like all would be okay, but then one day, when I wandered outside with a cup of tea to admire my garden, I saw that many of the plants had withered, the vegetables had been eaten by insects, and the soil seemed to have lost its health. The consequences of my irresponsible behavior were the destruction/death of my beautiful garden. 

In life, it is much the same. If you neglect what is important, it may take a while, but you will eventually see those important things become damage or fall apart. 

16. With a little bit of care, the weak can become strong.

I have met many people in my life who have appeared weak because they are depressed or downtrodden by life in some way or another. I have never known how to take care of them, but then gardening taught me how. 

In my garden, there are sometimes newbie plants that seem weak, withered, and ready to die. With a bit of care and attention, most of these plants have popped right back up and thrived. In fact, one particular Chili plant that took a bad knock from a heavy hail storm a few years ago is now my strongest and most fruit-producing plant. 

17. Give more than you take.

As humans, we seem to be hardwired to want to take, take, and take. Some of us give back, but it’s easier to take, isn’t it? My garden taught me that this is no way to live. Plants take very little from us, and in return, they give us beautiful flowers and delicious fruits and vegetables. We can learn a lot from that.

18. Trusting others is important and rewarding.

If my plants didn’t open up to me and trust me, I wouldn’t have much of a garden at all. All of my plants trust me to ensure that they are protected, well-fed, and watered. I learned a lot about trust from this. Not only because my plants have to trust me, but also because I have to be someone that they can trust. 

19. Water is the elixir of life.

Yup, it’s true for both plants and humans. Without water, we can’t live for too long. Without water, my garden simply dies. It is much the same with humans. We can go for about 3 weeks without food, but can only live approximately 3 to 4 days without water. 

20. In the end, you always reap what you sow.

If you plant a chili seed, a chili plant will grow. Much the same, if you live a life of unkindness, unkindness will find its way back to you. This has really made me think about how I act, react, and treat people. 

What Life Lessons Will Your Garden Teach You?

While I am fully in tune with the life lessons taught to me by my garden, it would be interesting to know what your garden has taught you. Perhaps it’s time for you to give it some thought.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.