Growing things from a few seeds and a pot of soil is one of life’s biggest joys, and it’s something anyone can learn to do. I love watching the things I’ve grown so carefully with love and care make another person smile, whether it’s flowers from my garden or extra vegetables we give to our neighbors in the summertime. I’ve read dozens of books on gardening, composting, seed saving, and helping colorful flowers bloom early, and I own dozens more books on the subject, plus I have an entire vertical on my blog dedicated to visiting gardens. Here are my favorite gardening books that are easy to understand, with useful, correct information, are great references, and are great for any skill level. Some of these books were given to me by friends and family (which is why they’re from the 80s and 90s), but they’re still the best books I’ve ever found on the subject.
American Horticultural Society Practical Guides, Hanging Baskets
This book is so helpful for understanding how to structure and create hanging baskets that will thrive all year long (or longer!). This book includes information about constructing hanging baskets not only for flowers but also herbs and vegetables too! It’s a great reference, and hanging baskets are such a lovely way to add color around windows, porches, balconies, overhangs, and beyond. Plus, the information here can be applied to window boxes too!
Growing House Plants by Kay MacGuire
If you’re curious about growing plants indoors, propagating plants, learning about composting, and how to care for different types of plants, from succulents and cacti to tropicals and flowers, this book will become your new best friend. Separated by plant species, this book breaks down how to care for houseplants and gives practical information about light, watering, and more. Plus, it includes inspiration for potting combinations for increased houseplant success.
Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion by Shane Smith
Not just for those with greenhouses, this essential gardening book is great for anyone with a sunny space who wants to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers indoors. Learn how to force bulbs indoors (make them bloom earlier and longer), keep indoor crops safe from pests, and maximize yield in small spaces.
The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch
If you’re as clueless about gardening as I was when I started, this book is where you should start. Even if you have a fairly good understanding of gardening, this book breaks down the tools and the basic elements that must be controlled and monitored during the gardening process. It covers everything from soil preparation and starting seeds indoors to selecting healthy plants at the store and planting plants in the right spot around your house. If I were only to own one book about gardening, it would be this one.
Vegetable Gardening for Beginners by Jill McSheehy
This easy-to-use step-by-step guide for creating a vegetable garden is a great resource for those new to growing vegetables. Learn how to plan, plant, maintain, protect, and harvest vegetables organically, without the use of harsh chemicals, and without extra work. I’ve read books that make it way too complicated, and this one keeps it simple. After all, our ancestors have grown food for thousands and thousands of years with minimal tools, without the internet. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, and this book keeps it real.
The Plant Propagator’s Bible by Miranda Smith
Buying plants can get expensive, and this book teaches readers how to multiply the plants they already have! Learn all about the tools you’ll need, whether to propagate in soil or water, the amount of light propagating plants require, and how to divide plants in order to maximize the number you grow. Propagating plants feels like magic or that hack in the Sims game that gives players free money. Either way, propagating plants is a ton of fun and very rewarding.
How to Garden Indoors & Grow Your Own Food Year Round by Kim Roman
If you are like me and thought that gardening vegetables could only be done outdoors in spring and summer, you need to read this book! It changed my viewpoint on gardening completely, and it showed me that it’s possible to grow fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers in nearly any container you have lying around your house all year long. Even if you live somewhere cold and dry, with the right climate control supplies, many you can DIY or repurpose from other common household items, you can skip the $3/lb tomatoes at the store and grow your own all year long!
Terrariums Gardens Under Glass by Maria Colletti
I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’m obsessed with making terrariums. I save any glass container I can, whether it’s a glass pasta sauce container, salsa jar, or empty glass makeup pot, and make terrariums out of it. It’s unbelievably fun to make tiny worlds with the information I’ve learned in this book. This guide has everything a person needs to get started on growing their own miniature (or massive) indoor gardens behind glass. Some of my favorite things to create are aqua gardens, moss gardens, and tropical conservatories in tiny recycled jars. They also make great gifts for other plant lovers!
The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving by Seed Savers Exchange
Buying seeds for gardening used to be the most expensive part of gardening, especially because I only buy organic heirloom seeds. Learning to save seeds has not only saved me hundreds and hundreds of dollars on seeds, but it’s also a great way to increase biodiversity, create an abundance in your garden, and reduce dependence on unreliable seed sources that might sell out or not be available from season to season. This book has lots of information on harvesting, preserving, storing, and replanting seeds, sorted by plant type. It’s an invaluable resource and one I can’t believe I ever lived without. Think about it, a pack of organic pepper seeds is about $3.50, and if each of those seeds turns into a pepper plant that you can then use to harvest 150 or so seeds from it, you can have enough seeds to last years (if you learn to store them properly!)
Other Favorite Gardening Books
Some of these books are great informational resources, and some are great for inspiration. If you only buy one or two gardening books, grab The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving by Seed Savers Exchange & The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch. You can thank me later!