10 Must-Have Plant Care Books


It's almost 2018 and you can find the most up to date information on even the rarest plants known to humankind on the Internet... but there's just something about opening up a book and flipping through the pages to find the information you need. I love having all this knowledge bound in one place. I am biased since I'm a bit of a book nerd along with being a plant nerd, but once I become interested in a subject, I love to read as much as possible about it. Surely much of houseplant keeping is hands-on as well, but you can really increase your understanding and working knowledge of houseplants if you keep a couple plant books on your shelves. I've scoured used bookstores, Amazon, and libraries to find some of the most useful houseplant care books on the market. I've compiled a list of my top 10 favorites that include everything from general care, to DIY projects, to botany. Now, I haven't read all of the houseplant books out there, and there are some books that I've read that just don't make the cut. If there's one you love that's not on the list, drop me a line and let me know about it! Each book title is linked to Amazon so you can learn more about it. Enjoy!

  1. The House Plant Expert by Dr. D.G. Hessayon - If you could only have one houseplant book for the rest of your life, I would suggest Dr. Hessayon's book. Originally written in 1987, it's been updated a few times since, but it remains incredibly comprehensive and covers a wide range of topics and houseplants. I love how clearly Dr. Hessayon explains things, and how in-depth he goes. This is a book that is truly for beginners and experts alike, and I constantly reference it. I only have two issues with it: one is that some of the houseplants Dr. H profiles are out of date - there are some in the book that were popular in the '80s but aren't on the market anymore and are hard to find. Conversely, there are popular plants and species today that aren't in the book. For example, the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). My second minor qualm is that some of the scientific names aren't up-to-date. I understand that taxonomy can change frequently, but it would be a good idea to correct the names during the next update. Other than that, I adore this no-nonsense, concise book and I'm constantly recommending it to people. Best of all, I have seen it at many used bookstores for quite cheap!
  2. The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual: Essential Know-How for Keeping (Not Killing) More Than 160 Indoor Plants by Barbara Pleasant - This is the first houseplant book I ever bought and it taught me so much about basic care concepts like lighting, watering, humidity, and repotting. The book has beautiful, colorful photographs and clear instructions. I also appreciate how it covers many popular plants today, so it's a great pairing to The Houseplant Expert I mentioned above. Overall a very comprehensive and informative book that is excellent for beginning and intermediate houseplant hobbyists.
  3. Indoor Plants: The Essential Guide to Choosing and Caring for Houseplants by Grahame Clark - This is a book I use to cross-reference the information in the above two books I mentioned. When learning about a plant, I always gather information from a few sources to see what is consistent. I've found that some of the taxonomy in this book out of date since it was published in 1997, but otherwise this is a dependable book with beautiful photos and extensive advice. 
  4. What's Wrong With My Houseplant?: Save Your Indoor Plants With 100% Organic Solutions by David Deardorff - This is a great little book for troubleshooting your houseplant issues. I actually bought a Kindle version to have on my phone at all times that I can quickly reference. Like the above books, What's Wrong With My Houseplant covers many care practices and plant species, but it focuses on specific, common plant concerns. What I appreciate most about the book is that it helped me understand how care elements like lighting and watering can cause problems with plants. It helped me make the connections and deeply understand what was wrong with some of my leafy pals. If you're worried about your plant's browning edges or falling yellow leaves, this is your best bet to help figure out the issue at hand. 
  5. The Complete Book of Cacti & Succulents by Terri Hewitt - I'm a tropical plant kinda gal, and although I appreciate succulents, I never went wild about them like a lot of folks. For me, it's an entirely separate world that I want to know more about! I picked this book up at the library and purchased it soon after since it's so in-depth and has beautiful color photographs. By no means completely comprehensive, it still lists hundreds of species of cacti and succulents along with their cultivation, taxonomy, and history. The book also offers simple care guidance, propagation, and DIY + decorating projects. This is a must have for any succulent lover!
  6. The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature by Tovah Martin - Terrariums, like succulents, are very trendy right now and appeal to folks who think they have brown thumbs. Terrariums offer a low-maintenance way to bring a little green into the home and are typically fun projects to make! With stunning photographs, the book covers all different types of terrariums and vessels, how to make terrariums, a huge variety of plants that thrive in terrariums, as well as terrarium maintenance. I find that the author tends to be a little repetitive and drawn out, but this is still a good basic book for those looking to create their first terrarium. 
  7. Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon - This book is absolutely necessary for any houseplant lover looking to step up their game and makes the science behind plants accessible for beginners. It's often used as a text in introductory botany and horticulture classes, but is written in a simple and clear way for any gardener. The book covers plant structure, processes, adaptation, and taxonomy. I gained a much deeper understanding of plants after reading this book and constantly reference it.
  8. American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques by Alan Toogood - One of the most fun aspects of plant keeping is propagating your plants! Most of us know about rooting cuttings in water or soil, but this book gives an in-depth look at a variety of propagation techniques and the science behind them. It also includes step-by-step instructions and clear pictures of techniques. This is a must-have when you want to get a little more advanced with your plants! 
  9. Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants by Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff - Right now, the book market is saturated with plant interior styling guides. There are a few I could mention, but Urban Jungle takes the cake. It’s the original “interior greening” blog and book, and has a huge following on Instagram (@urbanjungleblog). Urban Jungle is more of a coffee table book than a reference book, with gorgeous, inspiring pictures. It’s kind of like having the best interior decorating Pinterest pictures all in one place to flip through! Some of the plant care advice is lacking, but if you’re looking for trendy plants or how to make a quick macrame plant hanger, it’s worth having. There are quite a few worthwhile styling tips as well. Plus, this book looks really great nestled with plants for Instagram pictures! Don’t lie, I know you’ve done it too. ;) 
  10. Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary by James G. Harris and Melinda Woolf Harris - This is a book for serious plant collectors, or at least for folks wanting to advance their knowledge. As I go deeper into my love of plants, I find myself wanting to know even more about the structure of plants and ways to properly identify them. Similar to Botany for Gardeners, Plant Identification Terminology is a common book in botany and horticulture classes, and it covers every botanical term you’d ever need! If you want a precise, scientific way to describe growth habits, shapes of flowers, or texture of foliage, this is book has it all. Even though it’s quite science-based, it’s accessible to those of us who aren’t science majors!