“If the pandemic taught me anything, it reinforced the notion that we need plants more than we realize,” Nick Cutsumpas writes in Plant Coach (Abrams Image, Oct.). “With stress and anxiety at an all-time high, houseplant care became a cathartic exercise that provided a sense of security and control amidst the chaos.”

The fervor was already so great, Molly Williams writes in Taming the Potted Beast (Andrews McMeel, Sept.), that in January 2020, as the first Covid cases hit the U.S., a $40 philodendron “Pink Princess” commanded a whopping $500 asking price on a popular buy-sell-trade Facebook page: “How much do any of us know about this hobby we’re all wrapped up in?”

New releases help the growing legion of houseplant enthusiasts answer that question, and offer advice on choosing the right plant and, just as important, diagnosing any difficulties that arise. “Don’t panic,” Emily L. Hay Hinsdale writes in What Is My Plant Telling Me? (Simon Element, Sept.). “Let’s work the problem. Less pathos, more pothos.”

Plant Coach

Nick Cutsumpas. Abrams Image, Oct.

This debut from Cutsumpas, aka Farmer Nick, is part how-to guide, part memoir of his progression from backyard gardener to landscaping specialist on Netflix’s Instant Dream Home, and part ode to biophilia, or the friendly relationship between humans and the natural world. The book includes checklists on plant acquisition and cultivation (e.g., “Should I Buy This Plant?”) and tips on making the reader’s “home ecosystem” a greener one.

Taming the Potted Beast

Molly Williams, illus. by Ellie Hajdu. Andrews McMeel, Sept.

Williams follows 2020’s Killer Plants, a guide to caring for Venus flytraps and other predatory flora, with a chronicle of human-houseplant relations. Moving from the Neolithic period to the Instagram era, each chapter begins with a plant-based historical vignette, includes Hudju’s black-and-white illustrations, and ends with instructions for era-appropriate DIY projects including an ancient Greek medical herb garden and a Victorian terrarium.

What Is My Plant Telling Me?

Emily L. Hay Hinsdale, illus. by Loni Harris. Simon Element, Sept.

“Helping out ailing houseplants is no big deal, according to this chatty guide,” PW’s review said, from the author-illustrator team behind 2021’s Never Put a Cactus in the Bathroom. Each chapter focuses on the needs of a different popular houseplant, from the African violet to the ZZ plant, offering troubleshooting advice (e.g., what to do “when the ZZ loses its za za zu”) and, per the review, other “handy tips worth returning to.”


Return to main feature.