ABRAMS Books sent me The New Plant Parent in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Everybody likes my husband. It’s true! Babies coo in his arms, kids laugh at his jokes, old ladies wink at him in the grocery store and plants flourish in his care. (A leaf falls off the philodendron and he can charm it right back on.) I’m okay with people, but I’m a disaster with plants. If only there were some way to learn how to be better? Something with two covers and a bunch of pages in between, maybe. A handbook of sorts. An illustrated guide, if you please. I think that is this book: The New Plant Parent: Develop Your Green Thumb and Care for Your House-Plant Family by Darryl Cheng.
Hugely popular on Instagram at houseplantjournal, Darryl is an engineer (and now author) whose holistic approach to plant care encourages readers and fans to think of plants as long-term friends, rather than decor that needs maintenance. Responsible plant parenting means understanding a plant’s needs, providing it with the right mix of light, water and nutrients, and accepting what nature has in store. It’s about developing an appreciation for how plants grow, rather than how they look at any given moment.
The book aims to help people become confident caregivers by teaching the fundamentals of plant science and encouraging careful observation. To this end, the first half covers everything from understanding plant environments (i.e. how wildly the conditions vary from jungle to nursery to house) to how to measure light, how to aerate soil, how to prune and repot, and so on. The second half is a detailed look at the lessons Darryl’s learned caring for a wide variety of plants in his own Toronto home.
“As you get to know different families of plants better, you’ll become adept at matching specific plants to the growing conditions that you can provide in your home,” Darryl writes. “You’ll know which zones in your home provide the bright indirect light that tropicals need. You’ll be sparing with water for a plant that isn’t getting enough light to metabolize it. And you’ll be much less dependent on expert ‘advice,’ relying instead on firsthand knowledge and observation.”
The book is like a textbook in its use of headings, sidebars, charts and chapter summaries — these break up the information and make it easier to digest. As does Darryl’s relatable writing style. Plain language, clever comparisons and some humour help things “stick” and make The New Plant Parent enjoyable to read. Take this bit on humidity, for example:
“People hear all kinds of tips and tricks about how to raise humidity and how their plants will be sad with the supposed ‘low humidity of centrally heated homes’ — it’s borderline fear mongering! If you happen to live in a very dry climate, raising the humidity is best achieved with a humidifier. Don’t bother with misting; it’s about as effective as trying to heat up a room by lighting a match!”
I do think some people are more intuitive when it comes to plant care (just the same way that some people are better with math or languages), but now think I there’s hope for the rest of us. It’s about learning what plants need and what we can give them, being curious and attentive, having reasonable expectations and taking the long view. The New Plant Parent is a must-read for plant owners (and lovers!). Highly recommend!
Thanks to ABRAMS Books, I have a copy of The New Plant Parent for one of you! To enter to win, tell me what houseplants you have in your home or what you struggle with when it comes to plant care. Put your answer in the comments below, svp. This entry is mandatory.
For another entry, follow try small things on Facebook, share this post (you’ll see the share buttons below) and tell me your Facebook name in the comments below.
And feel free to tweet the following once per day and leave the url for your tweet in the comments below (one entry per tweet). Make sure you’re following try small things and ABRAMS Books for your entry to count.
A holistic approach to plant care: #Win Darryl Cheng’s The New Plant Parent from @trysmallthings https://wp.me/p4xBed-7hC CAN 5/20 #thenewplantparent
The giveaway is open to Canadian (excluding Quebec) residents 18+ and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on May 20, 2019. The potential winner (chosen at random) must respond to prize notification within 48 hours and provide the correct answer to a skill-testing question, otherwise another winner will be selected.
Good luck, everybody!
Update May 21, 2019: Congratulations Suzanne B!
Photographs copyright © 2019 Darryl Cheng and shared here with permission from the publisher.