Eighty percent of Americans live in urban areas. Modern streets are lined with apartments with balconies, condos with decks, and homes with small yards. For plant lovers, gardening in these limited areas is a challenge. Grow Plants In Pots (DK Publishing) provides information on growing “house plants, outdoor plants, … fruits, vegetables and herbs” in containers.
The author, Martyn Cox, is a prolific garden writer, having published books and articles in British magazines and newspapers. His interest in potted plants is obvious in his own small East London garden. Despite it being only 13 feet x 15 feet, this garden has 400 plants, a deck, a tiny greenhouse, a small shed, and a pond.
The book is divided into four chapters. In the first, he discusses how to choose planters for various types of gardens. He suggests containers and plants for many situations from small decks and rooftops to lovely edibles surrounding patios. As in all parts of the book, the recommended plants and containers are presented in colorful and beautiful photographs.
“Grow your plants in the conditions they enjoy, and you’ll be rewarded with healthy, thriving specimens,” summarizes the information Cox writes in the next two chapters on potting ornamental and edible plants. If you are looking for information on a specific plant, each chapter begins with lists of plants and the page numbers on which they are discussed. I enjoyed reading through the book’s suggested plants groups, such as fragrant climbers, flowering succulents, winter staples, crunchy carrots, etc. In these sections, I was introduced to new varieties and learned more details about growing well-known plants.
The information provided on each plant is quite complete. I looked up orchids to discover information on a Phalaenopsis orchid that I won at a party. As with all the plants, it informed me of light needs, temperature requirements, containers size, and compost type. I learned how to trim the orchid’s stems to encourage blooming. This was an insight to me since I had probably contributed to the demise of a previous orchid by ignorantly lopping off all the bared stems.
In the last chapter, “Planting Guide,” Cox expands the care for potted plants to include advice on all aspects of container gardening from potting to pest and disease control. Here I read a suggestion I must try. To protect hostas from being riddled with holes in their leaves, Cox recommends wrapping copper tape around the pots to give the slugs and snails “a nasty electric shock.” For other unusual suggestions and a plethora of information on potted plants, this is an interesting book to aid new and experienced gardeners in their efforts to fill their areas with beauty.
Christine Thomson is a Raleigh gardener obsessed with plants. She is a volunteer at the Raulston Arboretum and fills her spare time reading books, especially volumes about vegetation.