Ever wonder if plants sleep or why their leaves are shaped a certain way? The inner workings of the plants you love are revealed and celebrated in this guide by botany expert Dr. Scott Zona.
*2023 American Horticultural Society Award Winner*
A Gardener’s Guide to Botany is not just another book on how to grow plants. Instead, it’s a lushly illustrated botanical journey into what makes plants tick, delivered in layman’s terms that are easily understood and appreciated by both advanced gardeners and first-timers. It’s the chlorophyll-infused science behind the plants you know and love, whether you grow them indoors or out.
You’ll learn how different plant parts function (do you know what stomata are and why every leaf has hundreds of them?), the traits that separate plants from animals, and how through eons of evolution the plants we grow in our gardens and homes have developed a million different fascinating adaptations that allow them to survive and thrive. From their leaf shape and growth habit to how they have sex and metabolize the nutrients they absorb, A Gardener’s Guide to Botany covers it all in an accessible and thought-provoking way.
Divided into chapters based on what plants need to survive, some of the topics you’ll discover include:
- How plants convert water, air, and sunshine into roots, stems, leaves, and flowers through photosynthesis
- How plants react to their environment and “know” when it’s right for supporting growth and reproduction
- How light can inhibit or facilitate chemical reactions in a plant
- How plants access and use water and different nutrients, including through lifelong partnerships with other living organisms
- How plants reproduce in some pretty ingenious ways, both with and without sex
- How plant genes are dispersed via seeds spread by wind, water, animals, or by the mechanics of the plant or the seed itself
Up your #plantnerd status by going on a knowledge expedition to learn about all things botanical, including the enlightening science of plant communication, hormones, insect relationships, and even plant sleep. Plus, learn the many varied ways plants protect themselves, from growing spines and producing toxic leaf compounds to emitting volatile chemicals that serve as messages to insect predators or warning signals to neighboring plants. Through beautiful illustrations, full-color photographs of plants from around the world, and fascinating and relatable text, get to know your plant family like you never have before!
Whether you grow houseplants on a windowsill, vegetables in raised beds, or shrubs and perennials along your front walk, A Gardener’s Guide to Botany takes you on a beautiful adventure into the amazing kingdom of plants.
About the Author
Dr. Scott Zona is a botanist, researcher, and educator with a focus on tropical plants. For 9 years he served as the curator of the Wertheim Conservatory and Greenhouses at Florida International University in Miami, where he directed the restoration of the conservatory and maintained their research plant collections. Dr. Zona has collaborated with scientists worldwide on plant ecology research and has taught graduate- and undergraduate-level courses on tropical plant taxonomy. He guides garden tours and workshops for students, garden clubs, and the general public. In addition, he was a palm biologist with the Center for Tropical Plant Conservation at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Florida. He also educates houseplant enthusiasts through his online course, The Botany of Houseplants.
“I taught introductory botany for 43 years. Had A Gardener’s Guide to Botany been available as a textbook, I would have used it every year. Dr. Scott Zona has done a superb job explaining plant biology in a delightful and accurate way. I recommend it without hesitation.”—Prof. Karl J. Niklas, Cornell University
“This is the book I have been waiting for! Dr Zona explains the hows and whys of plant science in a way that everyone can understand, demystifying terms such as polyploidy and angiosperm. This is a must-read for all gardeners who want to expend their understanding of the plants they grow.”—Jane Perrone, creator and host of the On the Ledge podcast
"Gardening is a wonderful hobby that is made all the better by a deeper understanding of the plants we grow. Within these pages, Dr. Scott Zona introduces readers to the inner workings of our botanical companions in a way that is fascinating, easy to understand, and often beautifully illustrated. For those looking to take their gardening hobby to the next level, this book is for you!"—Dr. Matt Candeias, author and host of the "In Defense of Plants" podcast
“As a self- confessed plant geek without any formal training, I have often found gaps in my knowledge of botany. However, I have finally found a straightforward guide to understanding this fascinating world, with simple explanations, clear illustrations, and a delivery that doesn’t assume prior knowledge of the subject! Love it!!!”—Michael Perry, hortpreneur and founder of mrplantgeek.com
“A Gardener’s Guide to Botany distils the complex topic of botany down to essential information that a gardener of any level will find immensely useful. Author Scott Zona achieves this without ‘dumbing down’ or oversimplifying the information. Instead, he offers precisely what a gardener needs to know and reminds us that gardening is not merely an art or a craft, but that it is science. This book will make better gardeners out of all of us.”—Matt Mattus, author of Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening and Mastering the Art of Flower Gardening
"...a source of information that’s not only trusted and highly credible, but also approachable for readers at any level and an absolute joy to read."—Awkward Botany
"Zona does an excellent job of explaining the scientific background of plants in great detail and giving definitions along the way to expand readers’ full understanding. This highly recommended book is a fine addition to all gardening collections."—Lori Wetherell, Library Journal
"If you share a lack of botanical knowledge and are interested
in truly understanding plant life, A Gardener’s Guide to Botany by Scott Zona (Cool Springs Press, 2023) will educate you in a witty, informative manner."—Triangle Gardener
“The author’s explanations of concepts made this book so easy and fun to read. It made we wish I had this book when I was studying biology in high school and college.”—Perla Sofia Curbelo-Santiago, 2023 AHS Book Award Committee Member
“When I was reading it, I found myself thinking, wow, plants are so freaking amazing and I just want to grow them all.”—Viveka Neveln, 2023 AHS Book Award Committee Member
“Useful for people at different levels of learning—it’s for readers who want a deeper understanding.”—Kimberly Toscano Holmes, 2023 AHS Book Award Committee Chair
“Scott Zona is a wizard of botany!... The dude just came out with a great book… it’s Scott Zona’s botany crash course!” —Joey Santore, Crime Pays but Botany Doesn’t podcast