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What's Wrong with My Houseplant?: Save Your Indoor Plants with 100% Organic Solutions

What's Wrong with My Houseplant?: Save Your Indoor Plants with 100% Organic Solutions

by David Deardorff, Kathryn Wadsworth


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Keep your houseplants healthy and happy!

Are the fronds on your favorite fern yellow? Have you discovered creepy crawlies on your begonia? Relax—we’ve got you covered. What’s Wrong With My Houseplant? tells you exactly how much light, water, and fertilizer more than 130 indoor plants need to thrive. You’ll also learn how to identify common plant problems and how to choose the most effective, organic solutions.

If you love houseplants, this helpful guide should be on your shelf. Your plants will thank you.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604695908
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/27/2016
Series: What's Wrong Series
Pages: 292
Sales rank: 459,834
Product dimensions: 7.60(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

David Deardorff is an author and photographer with a PhD in botany and years of experience as a plant pathologist. He taught at University of Hawaii and Washington State University where he served as faculty advisor to the Master Gardener Program. Deardorff has appeared with Kathryn Wadsworth on numerous radio shows including Martha Stewart Living Radio, Growing a Greener World, Real Dirt, and Gardening with Ciscoe. Join them at kathrynanddavid.com, on Twitter at @KBWandDD, or on Facebook at @david.deardorff.108.

Kathryn Wadsworth’s skill as an author and naturalist illuminates the connection between gardens and nature. She has led eco-tours to wilderness areas around the world and served as executive editor of research journals. She has appeared with David Deardorff on numerous radio shows including Martha Stewart Living Radio, Growing a Greener World, Real Dirt, and Gardening with Ciscoe. Join them at kathrynanddavid.com, on Twitter at @KBWandDD, or on Facebook at @david.deardorff.108.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: Prepare for Success
Houseplants are a relatively recent phenomenon. For most of human history we did not have glass windows, and the insides of our homes were too dark for plants. When glass was first manufactured, only the very wealthy could afford it, but 150 years ago inexpensive pane glass became available for the first time, allowing ordinary homes to have large glass windows. That was during the Victorian era, the Age of Exploration, when botanical wonders from all over the world were brought back to England and Europe. Exotic palm trees and ferns from tropical climes were all the rage in Victorian parlors. During the 1960s, interest in growing houseplants peaked again, and making macramé plant hangers for hanging baskets became a national fad. Today, houseplants are once again popular and affordable, a result of newer production technologies, like tissue culture, combined with low-cost labor in Asia, and efficient distribution systems.
Why grow plants indoors? Houseplants satisfy the atavistic need many of us have for contact with green growing things, a need that is apparently encoded in our genes. Flowers beautify our personal spaces, brightening the home and lightening the heart. Flowering houseplants, like orchids and African violets, can decrease stress, a therapeutic value that has only recently been recognized and studied. Simply arranging a collection of houseplants can be a creative outlet. Some people like to grow a variety of bromeliads on a large, artistic branch or piece of driftwood which they call a bromeliad tree. Even the act of caring for our plant companions is therapeutic.
More impressive still, indoor plants improve air quality. Chemicals that have an adverse effect on human health commonly outgas from plywood, carpets, upholstery, and cleaning products. Research at the University of Georgia and elsewhere shows that certain houseplants reduce our exposure to these chemicals and filter pollutants from the air, providing clean air for us to breathe. A two-year study undertaken by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America identified several different houseplants that were able to remove the organic chemicals benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from indoor air. All the philodendrons and many other plants in this book (see sidebar) are valued members of the household for their proven ability to remove chemicals from indoor air.

Tropical broadleaf evergreens adapted to low light and warm nights generally make the best houseplants. They are pre-adapted to grow well in our warm, dark homes because they evolved in similar habitats, such as the floor of tropical rainforests. As permanent members of the household these plants succeed with minimum fuss.
Cacti and succulents that come from the tropical deserts of the world also make good houseplants. Their native habitat has full sun and warm nights, and many require bright light indoors.
Culinary herbs commonly grown on kitchen windowsills make acceptable houseplants. These temperate zone plants come from the Mediterranean, which makes them generally more temperamental than tropicals. Few temperate plants are able to tolerate warm nighttime temperatures.
And finally, plants that function as “living bouquets,” such as spring bulbs, florist azaleas, and Persian violets, can reside in our homes only temporarily. When their flowers fade, the plants go back outside or are discarded.
What is not a houseplant? Perennial plants from temperate zones that require cool nighttime temperatures are physiologically incapable of growing well inside our homes. Warm temperatures at night kill them. Perfect examples of this category include miniature roses and dwarf apple trees.
To flourish, houseplants need the right amount of light, the right temperature, the correct amount of water and humidity, and appropriate potting media and fertilizer. Like all other plants, they respond to the changing seasons of the year. The number of hours of daylight changes with the seasons, along with the temperature and humidity; these environmental cues signal the plant to respond with active vegetative growth and flowering, or dormancy and rest. Adapting your care to an individual plant’s needs and to seasonal changes will assure success.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Prepare for Success 9

Plant Portraits 31

Palms and Palm-like Plants 33

Trees and Shrubs 53

Herbaceous Perennials 78

Vines and Vine-like Plants 123

Ferns and Fern-like Plants 140

Temporary Houseplants 152

Orchids and Bromeliads 165

Cacti and Succulents 200

Culinary Herbs 240

Original Solutions to Common Problems 245

Recommended Resources 276

Useful Conversions 277

Acknowledgments 279

Photo Credits 281

Index 283


Port Townsend, Washington

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