Browsing the gardening section of my library on Valentine’s Day, I serendipitously came across The New Plant Parent by Darryl Cheng, aka the plantfluencer behind House Plant Journal on YouTube. Usually, I’m a Planterina kind of girl, but I did visit his channel frequently back in my earlier days of plant parenthood. So, when I came across his book, I was pleasantly surprised, just because I knew his book would be full of great advice.
Although I read The New Plant Parent in a couple of sittings, I recommend purchasing it and using it as a reference more so than just reading through it. Cheng finds the devil in the details, particularly in the chapters of the book devoted to the essential elements of plant care, such as light, water, and soil. These sections feel more textbook, although he does have helpful illustrations to guide the reader along. One big thing that I learned was to aerate my soil with a chopstick! I sometimes get very dry, compacted soil that water passes right through, causing my plants to wilt because the roots don’t get enough moisture. Great tips, but the information can feel very concentrated if you read it all at once.
My favorite part of The New Plant Parent has to be the plant profile pages! Cheng has a strong intuition on the specific types of situations that you’ll encounter for certain plants, whether it’s installing a mount for a staghorn fern or telling the differences between a philodendron and pothos. There’s a treasure trove of information to explore, and best of all, Cheng takes pictures of how his plants grow over time.
I most appreciated Cheng’s zen-like mentality for plant care. You don’t kill plants. You bring them into your home and help them adapt to your environment to the best of your ability. And if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. He also suggests that most plants need the same things (water, light, fertilizer), but to various degrees. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind as you experiment with different species instead of committing to rote memorization of what each plant needs.
Overall, The New Plant Parent offers a wealth of knowledge for new and seasoned plant lovers alike. You’ll definitely learn something new thumbing through its pages, and it’d make a great addition to any plant parents’ bookshelf as a reference.