The Indestructible Houseplant: 200 Beautiful Plants that Everyone Can Grow
“The Indestructible Houseplant is an exceptional reference book, as well as one you’ll want to read cover to cover for the sheer pleasure of spending time in Tovah Martin’s excellent company.”
The title says it all. Tovah Martin presents 200 easy-care houseplants, describing the plants and explaining their care. She calls these houseplants “the botanical versions of the Marines.” In addition to the “indestructible” houseplant encyclopedia, she includes a few helpful sidebars covering subjects such as “The Amateur’s Guide to Haircutting” and “Levitating Sprawling Plants.”
The featured plants are arranged alphabetically from African violet to ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). If the latter is not a plant within your ken, you’re not alone. Marin writes, “I ignored ZZ until it walked into my life, and after that it was sort of like a Great Dane—big, sleek, affable, and easy.
“I love that Zamioculcas zamiifolia takes up a generous chunk of real estate but doesn’t require an equally dedicated allotment of time.”
Martin’s style is whimsical and amusing, making the book a delight to read. For example, she explains, “Many of the plants in this book could use a dusting off. You knew them way back when, and you are prone to dismiss them as part of the murky past, like bell-bottoms and fondue.” Of African violets, she says, “It is so strongly linked with doilies and tea parties that many indoor gardeners figure it doesn’t have a future. But these plants survived indoor gardening’s dark ages intact . . .”
In another section, Martin shares, “I never thought I’d fall in love with a philodendron. . . . the plant just didn’t strike me as cohabitation material. I draw the line at scruffy when I invite plants into my home. A dress code isn’t necessary, and I’m totally willing to do rehab. But I don’t need one more mess in my life.” Martin is one of us. We can relate to her.
In between the A to Z alphabetical extremes, you’ll find the one-time despised aspidistra (“the old dark green version . . . hasn’t made the scene yet. It’s still a bore. But ‘Milky Way’ has definitely gained the secret handshake into the halls of coolness.”); Haworthia, which is commonly known as zebra plant because of the horizontal white strips on the succulent leaves; maidenhair vine (“Bring on the clowns,” writes Martin about this fast-growing plant with “frizzy arms and legs”); nerve plant, which “always seems to look tidy without any time investment;” and slipper orchid (“Orchids, indestructible? If you doubt these two words can ever be said together, you have never tried a tropical slipper orchid.”).
In addition to the plant descriptions, Martin helps out with concise information on their water, light needs, and blooming time, as well as tips on care, maintenance, and ideas for combining houseplants in eye-catching indoor displays.
The photography is excellent, enhancing the experience of casually leafing through the pages, looking up a specific plant, or perusing this delightful book. When you see the photograph of the pair of sculpturally formed Haworthia growing in a rustic frame hanging on the wall, you’ll be inspired to create one for your own home. The image of Martin’s cat Einstein nestled in a potted Tricyrtis (toad lily), which tolerates the compressing abuse as it doubles as an indoor ornamental and a cat bed, is charming and inspiring.
The Indestructible Houseplant is an exceptional reference book, as well as one you’ll want to read cover to cover for the sheer pleasure of spending time in Tovah Martin’s excellent company.