Houseplant Basics, by David Squire & Margaret Crowther
This book is certainly what it sets out to be, an easy to read and basic book about how to grow vibrant and beautiful houseplants. The title page promises help in selection, care, and propagation of houseplants and that is what this book delivers on. More than most books about houseplants, this particular book focuses on the plants themselves. It is always striking to see what draws most of the attention by a given author, and in this case photography of gorgeous plants of diverse kinds that can be grown indoors is what this book provides along with a surprisingly large amount of text about particular plants as well. Admittedly, I did not know that so many plants could be grown indoors, although it is quite possible that most of these plants would be beyond my own modest skills in taking care of plants. If this book had even more photos it would have been even better as there are plenty of varieties of plants that this book discusses that do not have photos, and that would have made this book even better, although also more than likely quite a bit longer as well.
This book is a little bit more than 100 pages long and is divided into 9 chapters. After a short introduction the author talks about healthy houseplants (1), with the knowledge that many are not. After that the next six chapters of the book, taking up a large majority of the contents, are spent talking about various kinds of plants that one can grow indoors, namely flowering pot plants (2), flowering houseplants (3), foliage plants (4), palms, ferns, and bromeliads (5), cacti and succulents (6), and bulbs (7). These chapters have a lot of photos as well as a substantial amount of text dealing with the specific plants and what it takes to grow them well and what kind of care they need. It cannot be overemphasized just how much the author likes to talk about various plants here. After that there is a chapter about propagation (8) that gives a few techniques on how one can use cuttings, runners, plantlets, and division to increase the amount of plants one has. After that the author includes a chapter of troubleshooting (9) that shows the way that one can deal with various pests as well as problems that different plants face, after which the book ends with a glossary, index, and acknowledgements.
It is striking what the author considers to be the most serious sort of problems that someone growing indoor plants would face, and this author clearly believes that the main problem that people face when it comes to growing plants indoors is not knowing the right plants to grow. And so this book is dominated by discussions of various kinds of plants that can be grown indoors, all of which presents the reader with a lot of different options. Some of these options appear to be quite lovely. For example, there are a wide variety of cacti that can be grown indoors, all of which makes sense because indoor environments tend to be pretty dry relative to the outdoors do the decrease in relative humidity when one heats air from the outside, making many homes (unless they have humidifiers) a lot like deserts. Still, most people would not tend to think of their homes as deserts, and so some people might take a bit of time and effort to imagine their homes as being fit for desert and savanna plants, although such things would likely work very well in a large amount of cases. Still, I found a lot to enjoy about this book and think many others would as well.