The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary Choices for Every Spot in Your Home


Indoor plants have gotten a bad rap and are often associated with dusty and dowdy African violets, languishing philodendrons, and bloom-free orchids. No longer! It's time for plant lovers to dust off their houseplants, update their image, and discover just how exciting, trendy, and crucial plants can be in the home.

The Unexpected Houseplant, by renowned plant authority Tovah Martin, isn't your typical, old-fashioned, dowdy houseplant book. Martin's approach is ...

See more details below
$16.94 price
(Save 26%)$22.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (32) from $2.21   
  • New (21) from $3.90   
  • Used (11) from $2.21   
The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary Choices for Every Spot in Your Home

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$15.49 price
(Save 32%)$22.95 List Price


Indoor plants have gotten a bad rap and are often associated with dusty and dowdy African violets, languishing philodendrons, and bloom-free orchids. No longer! It's time for plant lovers to dust off their houseplants, update their image, and discover just how exciting, trendy, and crucial plants can be in the home.

The Unexpected Houseplant, by renowned plant authority Tovah Martin, isn't your typical, old-fashioned, dowdy houseplant book. Martin's approach is revolutionary—picture brilliant spring bulbs by the bed, lush perennials brought in from the garden, quirky succulents in the kitchen, even flowering vines and small trees growing beside an easy chair. Along with loads of visual inspiration, readers will learn how to make unusual selections, where to best position plants in the home, and valuable tips on watering, feeding, grooming, pruning, and troubleshooting, season by season.

Martin also brings an evangelist's zeal to the task of convincing homeowners that indoor plants aren't just a luxury—they're a necessity. In addition to the design flair they add to a home, houseplants clean indoor air, which can be up to ten times more polluted than outdoor air.

Comprehensive, up-to-the-minute, and illustrated with gorgeous photography by Kindra Clineff, The Unexpected Houseplant is for beginners, green thumbs, decorators, and anyone who wants to infuse a bit of surprising green into their décor

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
For those who have tired of spider plants and cactus, garden writer Martin (The New Terrarium) suggests a year’s worth of new options. She begins her tour in autumn (the start of the indoor gardener’s year) and offers dozens of tempting suggestions. There are familiar bulbs and unexpected conifers, fruiting trees, and carnivorous plants. Each plant listing includes a photograph and an information box describing its flower, foliage, cultivation requirements, and potential problems. What really sets this apart from other reference guides are Martin’s imaginative choices. She dares readers to invite conifer trees and summer coleus inside for the winter and explains how to help the plants thrive there. She lures readers beyond the Christmas poinsettia to the whimsical, Dr. Seussian charm of a holiday Echeveria. She offers fruit, fragrance, foliage, and flower. Clineff’s full-color photographs provide plenty of inspiration for the home gardener and decorator. This is an imaginative guide to bringing the delights of the garden indoors. (Aug.)
"Will boost the confidence of even the most black-thumbed houseplant owner. Martin’s can-do enthusiasm is infectious, her creativity inspiring."
Design New England
"As the air gets crisper outside, it’s time to rethink what plants can do to enliven our interior spaces. Tips on how to care for ordinary and not-so-ordinary species are revealed, so non-green thumbers need not fear."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Refreshing in the world of garden books."
Traditional Home
"[Martin] has a witty, creative voice that warms her new book."
The Patriot-News
“Good choice for plant geeks and anyone tired of the same old peace lilies, ivies and Boston ferns.”
"This isn’t just another book on houseplants; it’s an invitation to adventure."
“This book engenders so much enthusiasm for indoor flora that you can find yourself outdoors with a shovel in your hand robbing your own garden of plants to bring inside.”
Winston-Salem Journal
"...informative, entertaining and really beautiful."
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
“Martin’s book makes one look very differently at the whole houseplant phenomenon. It isn’t so much a practical guide…as a challenge to think outside the box when trying to bring the outside inside.”
The Amherst Bulletin
Provides an incredible array of unusual plants for growing indoors.
The Chronicle Herald
“[Proves] there is a plant for pretty much every spot in a house.”
Pacific Horticulture
"A smart, stylish book on indoor gardening."
Country Gardens
"Tovah Martin’s newest book is no dry encyclopedic volume: Her personal, engaging writing style is as entertaining as it is informative."
The Seattle Times
“[Martin] writes in a captivatingly personal way [with] exuberance and deep knowledge… [will] keep you reading.”
Library Journal
For her 15th book, garden writer and plant expert Martin seeks to encourage the indoor plant maven in each of us. With the help of Clineff's eye-catching photos, which depict how correctly chosen plants placed in creative containers can enhance indoor living space, Martin shows how imagination and use of fundamental ground rules for growing and proper placement should result in an indoor horticultural paradise year round. Martin covers over 220 plants, ranging from exotic to conventional, but her unusual plant-container pairings give all of them an artsy flavor. Her text is engaging and personable. Growth requirements, propagation advice, problems, and attributes of plants are outlined. While Martin provides a resource list, she encourages the use of even "lowly" grocery store specimens. She presents planning and work schedules within a framework of the four seasons. VERDICT As the title suggests, this is not a typical facts-only presentation of how to cultivate houseplants. All indoor plant hobbyists in every geographic area will enjoy and learn from this book. Its fresh approach deserves a thumbs-up.—Deborah Anne Broocker, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Dunwoody
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604692433
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 148,074
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tovah Martin emerged from 25 years working at Logee's Greenhouses with a serious houseplant addiction. Author of the classics The New Terrarium and Tasha Tudor's Garden, Tovah has written more than a dozen gardening books. She served as garden editor for Victoria magazine throughout its lifetime and has been named the new Victoria's Writer in Residence for 2012. In addition, her articles appear in a broad range of magazines and periodicals, including Country Gardens, Garden Design, Coastal Home, Martha Stewart Living, House Beautiful, Connecticut magazine, Yankee, The Litchfield County Times, and The Daily Telegraph. For two years, she served as segment producer and frequent guest on the PBS television series Cultivating Life, and she is a repeat guest on the CBS Sunday Early Show. Tovah teaches houseplant cultivation to Master Gardeners and lectures extensively throughout the country.

An accredited Organic Land Care Professional through NOFA, Tovah gardens fanatically and organically both indoors and throughout her seven-acre Connecticut garden. In addition to bestowing their Sarah Chapman Francis Medal for "outstanding literary achievement" on Tovah in 2008, The Garden Club of America and the Litchfield Garden Club awarded Tovah honorary memberships. People, Places, Plants magazine called her "one of the top 10 most influential educators in gardening" and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society honored her with their Gold Medal "for extraordinary service to horticulture, especially greenhouses and indoor plants."

You may also be interested in the author's own Web site,

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 8

Introduction 10

Autumn 20

Acalyphas 28

Calla Lilies 31

Cissus 34

Citrus 37

Coleus 42

Conifers 45

Gesneriads 50

Ivies 55

Marantas, Ctenanthes, and Calatheas 58

Ornamental Grasses 64

Oxalis 69

Plectranthus 74

Sansevierias 78

Sempervivums 81

Winter 84

Asparagus 92

Burbidgea 95

Camellia 98

Clivias 1011

Euphorbia 104

Ferns 108

Forced Spring Bulbs 114

Fragrant Plants 120

Herbs 127

Holiday Plants 132

Orchids 142

Pelargoniums 147

Peperomias 152

Selaginellas 156

South African Bulbs 160

Spring 168

Begonias 176

Carnivorous Plants 184

Ficus 189

Garden Preview 193

Jasmines 205

Kangaroo Paws 211

Primulas 214

Seeds 218

Summer 222

Bromeliads 232

Crotons 237

Eucomis 240

Fuchsia 244

Gardenias 249

Passion Flowers 254

Succulents and Cacti 260

Vines 266

Love Thwarted 275

Abutilons 278

Bougainvilleas 282

Heliotrope 286

Hibiscus 289

Basics 292

Making The Match 296

Care 302

Finale 316

Sources 318

Suggestions for Further Reading 319

Index 320

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 29, 2012

    Gold Medal Gardener

    Recipient of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society's Gold Medal particularly for her proficiency in both growing and educating people about indoor plants, Tovah Martin has compiled some interesting choices for your indoor gardening experience. Martin delves into 29 categories of Autumn/Winter plants and 16 categories of Spring/Summer plants and even adds in a few plants she doesn't recommend. Each section has both the scientific and common names for each plant and it's variations, blooming capabilities (or not), size and foliage descriptions as well as general care, maintenance and disease tendencies. Carefully read the [Problems] section before selecting your plants as this is where Martin includes toxicity to humans and animals. Complete with full color illustrations, side tips about growing indoors, success stories, common pitfalls, and finished with a complete index, Tovah Martin has added another beautiful volume to her growing collection of gardening books. Digital galley copy generously provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)