Who Wouldn't Want Indestructible Houseplants?

Tovah Martin's The Indestructible Houseplant: 200 Beautiful Plants That Everyone Can Grow, has something for everyone from neophytes to long-time houseplant addicts.

Houseplants were my gateway intro to gardening. I was 19, and wanted something to take pride in because I couldn't afford furniture. It was all I was able to nurture, as my landlady wouldn't allow pets.

Martin certainly has the chops to write about houseplants. She honed her skills at Logee's Plants for Home and Garden, a name known to anyone who has coveted something unusual in a pot. As one-time family member, for 25 years, she nurtured and toyed with species often made available for the first time to plant-lovers up and down the East Coast.

My mini orchid has no need for staging.
I couldn't help but imagine the plants she doesn't mention in her latest book, but for now, I'll confine myself to the indestructibles. In Martin's book, it's partly about making the typical grocery store species look great when staged in an interesting manner.
Sanseveria (mother in-law's tongue) is elevated to structural element in a squared-off urn. Even the ubiquitous ivy is made to look more stately as a topiary in a stark white vessel, and she's planted a simple fern in a funnel tilted into a container to catch the drips.

I found a pretty pot for this unnamed Begonia. 
Some of the best places to find containers for houseplants are resale shops and garage sales. But the really cool ones were likely not meant to hold plants, as evidenced in Martin's photos. Re-purposed colanders, umbrella stands and enamel roasters shine a new light on plants that would blend into the background otherwise.

Martin opened my eyes to the new hybrids of old favorites. A spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) named 'Bonnie', has extra twisted leaves.  Dracaena 'Lemon Lime' offers a new twist to an old-fashioned plant, with chartreuse and lemon stripes to brighten up the solid green. These are not your '70s houseplants.

I also credit Martin with putting part of a box of old dishes to work as drip-catchers under my pots. I kept meaning to haul the box off to the resale shop, but the load is lighter now, thanks to this tip. And they're much prettier than the Frisbees I'd been using. I even found a use for the "family heirloom turkey platter" to keep an outdoor basket of succulents from oozing over the dining room table.

The turkey platter put to good use.
I'm not certain my in-laws would approve of using the platter in this manner, but the basket of Sedum, Aeonium and Kalanchoe does a great job of hiding the turkey. And although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I believe the platter looks better with plants on it.

Bottom line on The Indestructible Houseplant: 200 Beautiful Plants That Everyone Can Grow: A mini-bible on common houseplants used in uncommon ways that includes lots of tips and recommendations from a writer with scads of experience and an artistic eye for combining and using plants to their fullest potential.


  1. This sounds like a good book. This time of year our minds turn to house plants.

  2. Stumbled across your blog while searching for pics of succulents to draw, thought I'd look a round a bit and found this post which really took me back when you mentioned indoor plants being your gateway to gardening. Same for me! At about age 20, I was gifted a dish garden and became fascinated with caring for the little collection of plants. What a wonderful interest it led me to develop and I came to love, love, love outdoor gardening. Thanks for your post bringing those feelings and the pleasure of gardening back to mind!

    1. Thanks for the note, Jane. It's fun to reminisce about our first loves, no? Never a bad memory.