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Thu, 08/23/2012 - 13:37 — Sarah Martinez
Review: The Unexpected Houseplant
Author Tovah Martin urges us to say goodbye to ordinary houseplants
Confession: I have a love/hate relationship with houseplants. I love to have them around, but they hate to grow for me. I’m currently the caretaker of one ZZ plant that gets watered on occasion and somehow survives in a fairly dark corner.
(I’ve also got some hand-me-down Aloes and Sansaverias that are quite robust. But I don’t consider them houseplants, per se, since they only spend a few weeks on the floor of my kitchen during the coldest part of the year. They’re tough guys!)
I picked up the new book “The Unexpected Houseplant” thinking I would gaze at the beautiful images and scoff at borderline-impossible care regimens. Imagine my surprise when I was sucked in by author Tovah Martin’s persuasive voice! She’s determined to ease you into the Houseplant Lovers Camp. And how can you resist when Martin imbues these plants with such personality? The cast of characters includes workhorses, divas, old friends, strange neighbors and interesting bedfellows. Definitely not your typical, dry houseplant guide.
I kept a stack of sticky notes as I read this book so I could flag “must try” plants and techniques. My top two picks? 1. Growing Camellia sasanqua as a winter houseplant. (Squeal! So beautiful! Check it out on page 98 of the book.) 2. Repotting Cyclamen in clay pots for better performance indoors. Martin insists that small terra-cotta pots are the ideal home for these beauties.
One of the most endearing parts of the book is the chapter entitled “Love thwarted.” Here Martin describes plants that—despite her best efforts—don’t thrive indoors. She’s not claiming they won’t work for you, she’s simply saying that they weren’t right for her home/climate. The fact that Martin is willing to share foibles (as well as success stories) makes her much more credible and relatable.
See for yourself! We’ve got a brand-new copy of “The Unexpected Houseplant” that we’re giving away to one lucky Garden Club member. If you want to be included in the drawing, comment below with the name of your favorite houseplant (whether you're growing it now or not!). Include your email address so we can contact you! We’ll toss your name in the hat and announce the winner on Sept. 5.
A bonus funny for you!