To cultivate is to nurture and help grow. Farmers cultivate crops, fundraising professionals cultivate donors, and celebrities cultivate their images.
When you cultivate something, you work to make it better. Originally, the word referred only to crops that required tilling, but the meaning has widened. No matter what is being cultivated, the word implies a level of care that is reminiscent of gardening. Sometimes friendships come naturally and sometimes you have to cultivate them. To cultivate anything requires an attention to detail, an understanding of what is being cultivated, and a lot of patience.