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How Not to Kill Your Houseplant: Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged

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Can't keep a houseplant alive, no matter how hard you try and how good your intentions are? This is the book for you. You need this book. Give plants a chance.

Help your plant live with survival tips and learn the simple ways not to kill your plants.With over 50 different types of popular houseplants, How Not to Kill Your Houseplant summarizes what type of care your plants do (or don't) need. Be on the lookout for warning signs of a sick plant, from brown spots to crispy leaves, and make sure you take the proper action to rescue your plant.

Learn the basics of horticulture, from watering your plant to what kind of soil it should be placed in to how much light it needs every day to if a certain type of plant will thrive in your living space. Find out how to keep a cactus alive, where to hang air plants, and how to repot succulents.

Full of helpful tips, pictures, and informational panels, How Not to Kill Your Houseplant will turn your home into a beautiful greenhouse of healthy, happy plants.

144 pages, Hardcover

First published March 10, 2017

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Veronica Peerless

5 books2 followers

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5 stars
634 (42%)
4 stars
605 (40%)
3 stars
227 (15%)
2 stars
35 (2%)
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4 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 191 reviews
Profile Image for inciminci.
355 reviews31 followers
January 22, 2023
I found thrips on one of my houseplants, really need to get rid otherwise it will spread to the other plants and they might die... Looking for some tips on how to eliminate them.

I liked the structure of this book, easy, clear, informative.
Profile Image for ALLEN.
553 reviews120 followers
November 11, 2018
HOW NOT TO KILL YOUR HOUSEPLANT (subtitle "Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged") is not primarily, despite its title, a book about how to cope with a black thumb. Nor is it a "coffee-table" format book, but instead an attractive case-wrapped volume of about six by eight inches in size (15 x 20 cm) that offers nicely illustrated drawings of the most popular house plants like Maidenhead Fern, English Ivy, Jade Plant, Coleus, Christmas Cactus, and the hard-to-kill Inch Plant (often called "Wandering Jew" in the USA). Watering, soil, seasonal dormancy and sunlight needs are detailed and yes, what kind of fungi, mites or insects the plants may be prone to. A very good primer; I only wish it were longer.
Profile Image for Annie ⚜️.
501 reviews16 followers
July 3, 2019
I love this little book. Simple, straight-forward, clear and concise advice with full color pictures on every page. Great reference for a novice or amateur plant lover on up.
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,223 reviews209 followers
April 13, 2021
So that's what I've been doing wrong!
I said this aloud while reading the first 22 pages of this adorable, illustrated encyclopedia-ish plant book.
The book begins with contents pages (illustrations appreciated) of typical houseplants, the basics of where to buy and what to look for, and then when you have your cute little green bundle home, how to replant, what little buggies to look out for, and most importantly, the care and feeding of your new pride and joy!
The subsequent pages discuss specific plants, which I so appreciate!

Are your Baby's Tears becoming leggy? Move it to a cooler spot.
Is your Poinsettia dropping her leaves? Check if the dirt is too dry.
Is your Audrey 2 eating people again? Just kidding. (Thanks for the chuckle, Little Shop of Horror's fans.)

I checked this little guy out from the library but I'm going to purchase one for my own reference. -Sara S.
Profile Image for madame Gabrielle.
589 reviews440 followers
July 7, 2021
mon nouvel essentiel! je recommande tellement tellement 🙌🏻.
Profile Image for Kim M.
213 reviews1,377 followers
March 14, 2020
I bought this book because of the title. I love plants, but I haven't been able to keep mine alive for long. Turns out I was clueless about what plants need to survive, and the little care cards that come with your plant at Home Depot just aren't good enough.

This book starts out with basic, easy-to-follow plant tips on choosing, potting, watering, feeding, and placing your plant. It also talks about pests, diseases, and other plant problems. Then it gets into a more detailed discussion of how to care for and troubleshoot specific plant species. The book is well organized and clear and has lovely images that make reading and flipping through it absolutely delightful.

However, for a book that dubs itself "Survival tips for the horticulturally challenged," it didn't get into quite enough detail at parts. For example, sometimes it says something like "water moderately during the spring and summer and water more sparingly in the winter." Helloooo - I bought this book because I kill all my plants! I don't know the relative meanings of "moderately" and "sparingly" when it comes to watering plants! Gotta give me a better frame of reference...

Anyway, for the most part, this was a fantastic intro into plant care and will hopefully help me keep my new set of plants alive for a good long time. Fortunately, there's also the internet, which can supplement the areas that I felt like this book was lacking in.
Profile Image for Colona Public Library.
1,062 reviews20 followers
February 21, 2018
This was an excellent book for anyone who enjoys houseplants or plants in general, who want to keep them alive. The pictures were amazing and really catchy. The book covered quite a lot of different variety of plants. Each plant had do's and don't and tip on how to keep it alive plus similar suggestions on other plants if you like a particular type. This book also listed common problems associated with each plant and how to remedy them.

If you like plants this should be on your bookshelf, just to have as reference if problems arise.

Profile Image for Oceana.
632 reviews832 followers
April 10, 2022
This book will actually help! I made adjustments to my plants based on its tips and I really think they will help! The pictures are so useful and the book covers a huge range of common houseplants. I really enjoyed flipping through it to all the plants I own.
Profile Image for Katelyn.
1,122 reviews64 followers
June 21, 2022
One of my favorite books about houseplants. One of my go-to sources when I'm picking out new plants.
Profile Image for Tatiana Dengo.
876 reviews25 followers
August 15, 2019
I’ve been browsing through this book for over a year now and it’s finally safe to say I have read it from cover to cover multiple times and can definitely recommend it to beginner houseplant caretakers.

It includes advice for 119 common and popular house plants that you can find at any nursery.

Each two-page spread focuses on a single plant. There's a large picture in the center, which is surrounded by text boxes with common problems the plant may face, followed by clear solutions to each one. The left margin has straightforward information on “how NOT to kill it”, including: location, light, watering + feeding, and care. And the right margin has pictures of 1 or 2 plants with very similar care, which therefore don’t need their own full-page explanation (for example: kentia palm, parlor palm and butterfly palm are all in the same page).

So it’s really easy to find your plant in the index, flip to it, and quickly find the exact piece of advice you need.

The beginning of the book has basic plant care 101 information, such as: common pests & diseases, how to re-pot a plant, etc.

The only information this book doesn’t include (which I wish it had) is whether the plants are safe for pets or not, but at least you can check that out in the ASPCA’s website .

Also, some of the advice takes getting used to because it can sound contradictory, for example: yellow leaves on spider plants may mean that the soil around the roots is too dry, but it may also mean that it has root rot, which is caused by overwatering…? It’s just a matter of considering all the variables and testing for each one, but with time, experience, and a few mistakes, you’ll learn to understand the signs better.

Lastly, just like any book from DK, it’s beautiful on the inside. The pages are bright, colorful and packed with pictures, and the information is dense yet user-friendly and uncluttered. It’s also a very small and portable hardback, not like their other, really large books you may be familiar with. 

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for biblio_mom (Aiza).
587 reviews202 followers
January 29, 2021
This is the ultimate reference book if you wanted to grow any house plant, indoor or outdoor. This book will help you create an oasis of happy, flourishing houseplants.

💭 The book shows real plants photos instead of illustrations. Wise move! I love the fact that it provides all sorts of infos of every plants specifically. It has both the "easy to pronounce name" and scientifically name together. Like Flamingo Flower (Anthurium). Each pages has these points :
- How NOT to kill it (location, light, watering + feeding, & care)
- Bug alert! (about bugs that often infested that particular plants)
- Leaf condition (browning? falling?) & save it (how to overcome the problem)
- Height & spread
- Share the care (on the most right is a column that shows different plants that have the same ways of caring for)

💭 Mom & husb definitely gonna love this book too since they both love gardening. I recommend this to all plants killer and green thumbs. Long live the plants! 🌱🪴

❤️ Major love to Putri & Times for sending me this review copy! Its available in all major bookstores.
Profile Image for Sean.
6 reviews
January 28, 2021
Another nice starter houseplant book. Creative illustrations throughout. I really like the illustrations of specific diseases and issues on every page of the plant reference section. This book gets around the problem of a limited number of plant references. For each entry, there are one or more additional plants with similar care to the main plant, with a short note about any slight differences. This was a clever way to expand the total number of plants covered in this book. While it still doesn't contain a listing for all the plants I have in my small collection, it has more than some other starter books.
Profile Image for Sarah Esmae Wolfe.
164 reviews78 followers
February 22, 2021
This book is super cute to look at and has a lot of useful information but I do wish for some plants it was more thorough. It has main pages about one plant, then includes plants that require similar care so those plants don't have their own pages.
Profile Image for Brandi.
6 reviews
January 1, 2021
I would have given this book 5 stars if it told you whether the plant was toxic to pets!
Profile Image for Mustafa Al Nasheet.
254 reviews31 followers
May 17, 2022
An excellent book for beginners in houseplants world.
Lovely designed and illustrated.
Profile Image for Eli Claire.
528 reviews1 follower
July 16, 2019
Really detailed and thorough book, with detailed tips on how to make sure every type of houseplant survives! This would’ve been so helpful, but for one thing ... notes on which plants are harmful to pets or not! I ended up returning the book without using much of it, but will hopefully pick it up again when I have a better idea of what I can have with cats in the house.
Profile Image for Asia.
35 reviews
April 1, 2021
Excellent book with pretty much all the info you need!
Profile Image for Patty.
637 reviews42 followers
May 23, 2018
A really excellent how-to guide for houseplants, possibly the best book on the topic I've ever seen. It's split into two halves, with "The Basics" offering general tips and "The Houseplants" giving specific guidance on 119 common species. How Not to Kill Your Houseplant is aimed towards newbies, but it also included tricks that were new to me, such as how to save an overwatered plant by wrapping its soil in newspaper. I particularly liked the troubleshooting offered in "The Houseplants"; it explains, for instance, that yellow leaves on one plant might mean it needs more water, while yellow leaves on another species might indicate that it's getting too much sunlight. It's easy to look up your specific plants and get tips on how to best care for them.

How Not to Kill Your Houseplant is available as both an ebook and a physical book, but I'd highly recommend the physical book. It's beautifully laid out, with a collage-like style that mixes photographs and abstract cutouts.

A great book for anyone who raises houseplants, 'horticulturally challenged' or not!

I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Emmy.
1,707 reviews45 followers
August 20, 2017
A nice overview of houseplants and how to care for them. I really like the "hook" of "how not to kill it," which was funny and very relatable (as someone with a history of killing plants--accidentally, of course!). After all, what works for one plant might not work for another. My lucky bamboo is never happier than when its roots are completely submerged in water, but that sort of treatment would kill my succulents!

Would recommend to anyone who is interested in getting houseplants, since it almost feels like a catalog of possibilities. However, plant veterans might find it a bit tedious to read cover-to-cover.
Profile Image for Natalie Jones.
91 reviews
February 22, 2021
Good book for new plant parents. Because it covers so many different plants, it can't go as in depth on each plant as I would have liked, and a lot of tips are repeated with every single plant so it does get a bit repetitive, but it does the job!

EDIT: Editing my rating and my review because of new information. This book misidentifies Monstera adansonii as Monstera obliqua. Obliqua is an EXTREMELY rare plant and NOT the swiss cheese plant/vine, that is Monstera adansonii. I changed my rating from 4 stars to 2 for this, because if you are going to write a book about houseplants you better make sure that you do not misidentify any.
Profile Image for Kylie.
173 reviews7 followers
April 17, 2018
This is a sweet little book with bite-sized bits of information on how to care for a variety of houseplants. The photographs are gorgeous and if you're anything like me, once you adopt one plant you'll find yourself going back for more. My only criticism is that I wish this book also included info on which plants may be toxic to pets.
Profile Image for m a e g a n ♡.
160 reviews7 followers
March 2, 2022
This charming book tells you the proper care & feeding & loving to give your houseplants; I loved the 2 page spread for each plant. A peaceful little read. ... I originally picked this up to find out how to care for a specific plant I have (not mentioned in this book tho so i will still search), but I continued reading because each page was a delight!
Profile Image for Ava.
97 reviews1 follower
January 5, 2019
This book was exactly what I was looking for! It did a great job giving you the details of growing and I enjoyed it very much. On the downside, it only features certain plants and I am in need of a wider variety.
86 reviews
May 1, 2021
Basic information for common house plants. Helps me get a better idea of why some of mine are not living their best life. Doesn’t cover more complex problems or plants but definitely inspires me in the right direction. Also inspired to get more plants!!
Profile Image for Hannah.
216 reviews1 follower
October 1, 2021
The first part is a general overview of houseplant care; and the rest is a breakdown of specific houseplants and their needs, including what might be wrong and how to fix it. The illustrations are beautiful, and the "other plants with the same care" panels are useful. This will be a handy reference book to keep around, but it was also enjoyable to flip through and read about each plant!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 191 reviews

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