Like many, my first steps into the plant world were guided by the YouTube plant guru herself, Summer Rayne Oakes. Her videos are both informative and mesmerizing, educating viewers about plant basics while also taking them along her travels to nurseries in Southeast Asia. So, of course, finding her book How to Make a Plant Love You at the library filled me with unadulterated joy.
This review is going to be short since I already returned the book to the library, but I did want to talk about why I loved it. How to Make a Plant Love You isn’t a manual to growing plants as it is an homage to the art of indoor gardening. Oakes is a direct writer whose prose is lyrical without being, pun intended, flowery. What I love most about the book is how it contextualizes the art of cultivating houseplants. We learn about the history of indoor plants in addition to the social underpinnings of why we gravitate towards these plants as the world becomes more urbanized. Oakes poses reflective questions at the end of each chapter, urging us to consider our relationship with plants. The book doesn’t have a lot of illustrations or photos, but it does tap into the heart of why plant collectors love plants so much! We especially see this through the testimonials that Oakes sprinkles throughout the book, where people of all sorts of backgrounds talk about why they love plants so much, including folks with mental and physical illnesses.
Overall, How to Make a Plant Love You is a brief, yet fulfilling read. If you’re a plant lover or just dipping your toes into the world of indoor foliage, it’s a great book that delves into the psyche and history of plant parenthood.