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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Unexpected Houseplant by Tovah Martin: A review

(Cross-posted from The Nature of Things.)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remembered Tovah Martin from some of the gardening shows I used to watch on TV, back when there were actual gardening shows on TV, so I was interested to read her book on houseplants. She is also the author of a number of other gardening books, none of which, I admit, I had ever read.

The uninitiated tend to equate indoor plants with that dusty, forgotten philodendron standing in some dark corner of the house, but according to Martin, the choices for indoor plants are much more extensive than philodendrons, African violets, and orchids. She is an evangelist for adding plants of many different varieties to the indoor garden.

She writes of using spring bulbs, lush perennials, succulents, even flowering vines and trees indoors. The key to the survival of these plants is, of course, light, water, feeding, grooming, and pruning, especially light and water, and Martin gives practical advice on how to provide what these indoor plants need. She gives tips on troubleshooting your plants, season by season, in order to keep them healthy.

Martin is a convincing proselytizer for the benefits of having an indoor garden. It's not just a matter of adding design flair to a home. Houseplants help to clean indoor air, which can be much more polluted than the outdoor air, and thus make the house healthier for its human occupants.

Martin's enthusiasm for her subject is obvious and she writes in a very knowledgeable and accessible manner which should be easily understandable by beginners as well as experienced indoor gardeners and decorators. Moreover, her text is illustrated by some beautiful photography by Kindra Clineff.

All in all, this is a comprehensive and useful guide for anyone who wants to add some beauty and warmth to their home with the use of houseplants. And it might even help you to keep those plants alive well into the new year!

(Helpful tip: Just don't overwater. That's always the cardinal sin that I and many other indoor gardeners seem to commit.)

Note: A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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  1. Looks like a useful book. Houseplants is one area where I really need to bring up my game. Happy 2014!

    1. I think it's an area where most of us could use some help. This book might be just what we are looking for. And a happy New Year to you!