Join the Bloom & Grow Garden Club!

Let Maria slide into your inbox twice a month with planty education and inspiration created just for YOU to help you “keep blooming and keep growing” your indoor jungles and spirits (you’ll also be the first to know about upcoming events, launches and other exciting things we are working on!).

best plant books for my first year of being a plant parent.


Plant Friends, I’ve just closed in on a full year of caring for plants! Time freaking FLEW and I’ve learned so much, and devoured so many plant books that have helped continue my planty journey. I get questions all the time about what books I read when just starting out, so I put together this review of my favorite books that have helped inspire and motivate me to continue to bloom and grow as a plant parent. There's something for everyone in here, whether it's the first book a plant parent could read to the more science based, nerdy books (scroll down!).



The first three books I read when I was juuuuuuust starting out:


Favorite Planty Books of Maria from Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast

How Not to Kill Your House Plant by Veronica Peerless

People might have mixed opinions about this book, however this was the first plant care book I ever purchased, and I have a very soft spot in my heart for it. I have a vivid memory of bringing the book on a camping trip and lying awake in the tent the first night, not being able to go to bed because I was so excited to read it. Once Billy was asleep, I ended up gently placing a t-shirt over his eyes and then rolling over and using my flashlight to read the entire book in one sitting (or laying I should say).

At that point, I had zero knowledge on house plant care, and this was the perfect entry into the world of plants. The book has over 50 different plants, laid out in a fun, pop art theme, with basic, practical care tips, and plant fail warning signs. This book isn’t deep by any means, BUT for a first time plant parent, it gets you the information in a really unintimidating way. I’m so happy it was my first book, because some of my favorite books to read now might have totally overwhelmed me if they were the first one I picked up.

If you are thinking about incorporating plants in your life, at the beginning of your plant journey, or maybe know someone in this position, this is the perfect book!

Favorite Planty Books of Maria from Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast

Happy Houseplants by Angela Staehling

The botanical art of Angela Staehling can sometimes make my heart skip a beat. This book just makes me soul light up every time I open the cover.

I had initially seen this book in a giveaway promotion The Sill was doing, and the moment I saw the photo of the fun, bright, playful cover of the book I knew I needed it. I needed it so badly that after I ordered it on Barnes and Nobles and realized it would take 2 weeks to ship to my apartment, I couldn’t wait that long and actually went to the store the next day and bought the book. (I then gifted the second copy to a friend so it all worked out!).

This book is a visual delight. It is entirely made up of Angela’s whimsical paintings of plants, with smart care tips, and the breakdown of soil/water/light/fertilizer care for each of the featured plants. I especially love the beginning of the book, which is a whole introductory “getting started” guide, with pages dedicated to gloves, tools, equipment, fertilizer, soil and pots. Since I was still a beginner, I loved this overview of the additional things I’d needed, and the paintings of the watering cans, pruning tools and cultivators just made my heart sing.

This book would make an amazing gift because of how beautiful it is to look at and how unique the paintings are (most other plant books are photo based). It would also make a great coffee table book, I personally keep mine displayed on my desk.

Favorite Planty Books of Maria from Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast

How to Grow Fresh Air by Dr . B.C. Wolverton

This book changed the game for me. I’ve read it twice since I bought it. Now that I had a couple of plant care books under my belt (and was also rapidly learning more and more through guests on my show and the internet), I wanted to expand my knowledge on the science behind my plant care practices. If you enjoyed Episode 17 of the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast on the Studies Behind Why Plants Make People Happy and Healthy, this book will light your soul on fire!

This book does exactly what the title says, teaches you how plants actually clean the air around you. It breaks down indoor air pollution and has amazing resources to show you all of the different VOCs emitted by different everyday indoor things. It then breaks down photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration (the processes that plants do in nature that contribute to them cleaning the air) in a very simple, easy to absorb way. I needed to reread this section several times as it had been a while since Biology 101 in high school, but I found it so helpful!

It then goes through the famous NASA studies and further explains this process and then highlights the best purifying plants, and has care guides for them.

The Type A person in me loved all of the tables included in this book, breaking down which plants clean what, and what their care is. I can’t say enough amazing things about this one! Definitely a must have for any plant parent looking to go beyond basic plant care.


My Favorite and Most Fun Surprises of the Year:


Favorite Planty Books of Maria from Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast

The Land where Lemons Grow by Helena Attlee

I cannot fan-girl enough about this book. I just read it this month, after having about 15 plant books under my belt, and I wanted a beach read that fueled my plant passion, but wasn’t as instructional as the books I’ve been reading so far. This was the answer to my prayers. Special thanks to my sweet London based listener, Cecile for recommending this to me!

The only way to describe this book is: part history, part cook, part travel book. Helena Attlee has devoted herself to the specific history of citrus in Italian culture in the most marvelous of ways. She takes us through the various regions of Italy and what citrus meant to the culture in different time periods. There are maps (my favorite), recipes (even more of my favorite), care tips and stories about everything from the Medici to the Mafiosi. I didn’t want this book to end. Each page was a glimpse into ancient Italy and the incredible passion that Italians had for caring for the Blood Orange, the Citron, the Amalfi Lemon and what a deep connection the fruit had to Italian Culture and Politics.

This book would make a great gift for the Plant Person that already has everything or an indoor citrus enthusiast like myself!

Favorite Plant Books of Maria from Bloom and Grow Radio

      Favorite Planty Books of Maria from Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano 

This book unexpectedly gave me all the feels. I was reading it to my favorite 2 year old (as it is a CHILDRENS book of poetry), but I’ve got to say Julie Fogliano captures the poetic changing of the seasons so beautifully, the book kind of knocked me off my feet. The book takes you through an entire year of seasons, and how the plants respond to it. If you have a child in your life that you’d like to gently influence into being connected with nature, plants and the changing of the seasons, this is such a fun read for them (and for you.)

I see this book as a bit of a spiritual read (I can’t believe I’m saying this about a children’s book!) for myself, as it just stirs something inside of me that makes me feel more connected to my plants and the cycles they go through. The illustrations are totally whimsical and fun to look at, and I love that the poems are all titled with specific dates, April 27th, November 17th, January 5th. This would be a very fun book to read with your child/niece/nephew/kid in your building throughout the year, in real time!

Favorite Planty Books of Maria from Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast

Urban Jungle by Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff

This book is by the creators of They are a titan of the plant industry, and man, they did not disappoint with this visually stunning and educational book. I got this as a gift for Christmas and made my way through it by the new year. It is Urban Jungle inspiration at it’s finest, featuring planty apartments all over the world.

It’s a beautiful mixture of different plant people around the world, how-to tutorials, plant care highlights and styling tips. I love that it’s broken down in to sections that don’t need to be read through consecutively like a traditional book. The style tips and different DIY tutorials have given me tons of inspiration to keep growing my Urban Jungle.

I keep it on my coffee table and will occasionally just flip open to a planty person story or plant highlight, read it through in 5-10 minutes and then move along with my day. It’s a no brainer that this should be on every plant persons coffee table or planty bookshelf.


Fun Recommendations from Plant Friends that I’ve enjoyed:


Favorite planty books of Maria from Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast

The Apartment Gardener by Florence and Stanley Dworkin

I will be coming out with separate blog of my favorite plant books from the 70s (because collecting them has become a hobby of mine) but I just needed to highlight this one in this blog as it’s one of my favorites.

This book was recommended to me by Summer Rayne Oakes, and I knew if it was one she enjoyed it was worth ordering. I ordered it used for $5 and was delighted when the book arrived at my door beat up and loved. You could tell whoever previously owned this book (maybe in the 70s and 80s) loved the heck out of this book and used it as a guide. Their name was actually written in the inside cover, which gave it a certain nostalgic feel. The pages were yellowed and some torn and have that fabulous old library smell. I loved the idea that as I was reading it, other plant people had used this exact book to care for their urban jungles as well.

This book is fabulous because it is written specifically for people who live in apartments (and the writers lived in NYC, so extra helpful if you’re live here like me). They are incredibly thorough and cover every type of watering/potting/propagating technique. They go into a lot of detail about some nerdy plant stuff, so I found myself skimming some sections and then diving head first into others. There are no colorful photos, just black and white drawings here and there, but the way Florence and Stanley write seemed to be just what I needed.

Some of the information is a bit dated as there has obviously been a ton of advancement in the plant space since then (and plants cost a lot more), but I just loved reading about how apartment dwellers in the 70s kept thriving indoor gardens and was surprised at how many techniques have stayed the same. Houseplants had a huge hayday in the 70s, so reading it was also a fun way to connect with a different generation with the same passion we all share today.


Favorite Plant books of Maria from Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast

Botany for Gardeners (Third Edition) by Brian Capon

This book was recommended to me by Danae from Folia Collective, whose knowledge about plants blows my mind, as she doesn’t have a degree in it. So when she pointed me in the direction of this book, I knew I needed to purchase it immediately.

This book has been a game changer for me in the second stage of my plant parent hood. I’m now finding that I want to learn more about the science behind why plants do what they do, but with a degree in Opera, I find myself getting very intimidated by plant biology textbooks. This book was the answer to my prayers and I’m so thankful to Danae for recommending it to me.

Full disclosure I’m still working my way through this book and haven’t finished it yet, as I find myself rereading a lot of sections to absorb all of the amazing teachings in it. Brian Capon just get’s what a gardener with no plant science background needs to know. He breaks everything from plant cell wall structure to root systems down in such a digestible way, and the visual aids are incredibly helpful.

I think this book might be the most important thing I’ve purchased this year, and will pay dividends for me as I continue to grow and care for my plant collection, as it dives so much deeper than just what type of light a plant needs, but explains why the plant needs the light. I get giddy every time I crack the book open as I know it’s education that’s going to deepen my connection to my plant care practice and help me educate my plant friends better as well!


I hope these book recommendations help you continue to bloom and grow in your journey with being a plant parent!

Maria Failla, host of the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast

Maria Failla, host of the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast


Maria Failla is the founder and host of the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast– a podcast designed for the Urban Jungle Enthusiast and Succulent Killer alike. Maria is a self proclaimed “Succulent Killer turned Crazy Plant Lady” with a passion for empowering people to have plants thrive indoors (or at least stop killing them). Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or most other podcast players!


Interested in learning more about house plants and joining a community of other plant lovers like yourself? Join the Bloom and Grow Garden Club! 


Bloom and Grow LLC is an Amazon Associate Partner, meaning it may receive a portion of the sale of these books at no extra cost to you. Purchasing through these links is a wonderful way to support the show while growing your planty dreams and knowledge. If you aren't comfortable purchasing this way, just google the titles, no stress!

Leave a Reply

Follow along,  plant friends!


Stop wasting money on plants that don’t fit with your lifestyle.

Take the Plant Parent Personality™ quiz, and get curated recommendations for plants, projects, and podcast episodes inspired by your lifestyle to unlock your Plant Parent Potential!

Take the Plant Parent Personality™ Quiz