cover image The Houseplant Survival Guide

The Houseplant Survival Guide

Marcus Pfister, Pat Regel. Taunton Press, $19.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-56158-186-3

The poor relations of the horticultural world may have languished in the shadow of their outdoor cousins during the recent gardening boom, but it appears that houseplants are now regaining some of the esteem they enjoyed during the 1960s and '70s (see Notes below). Regel addresses beginners, prodigals and veteran indoor gardeners alike in this clearly written, informative manual, and offers those just starting out the encouragement and step-by-step instructions they need to be successful, while providing updates on new techniques and pointers about exotic plant choices for those with more advanced skills. The essentials are covered, of course--light and humidity requirements, feeding schedules, recipes for potting soil--along with more in-depth discussions of such topics as insect pests, nursing ailing plants (refrain from using fertilizer, Regel counsels, since just like people ""a sick plant isn't interested in eating when it's sick""), and summering houseplants outdoors. Regel writes with the enthusiasm of a long-time fan, bolstering her fluid prose with an abundance of photographs, line drawings, and sidebars. She makes a compelling case for the joy of bringing a little bit of the outdoors inside. As a result, readers whose most formative experience with houseplants involved, say, a wilting Swedish Ivy in a college dorm room may well consider giving indoor gardening another try. (May)