100 books like Botany for Gardeners

By Brian Capon,

Here are 100 books that Botany for Gardeners fans have personally recommended if you like Botany for Gardeners. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Soul of Soil: A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers

Daryl Beyers Author Of The New Gardener's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden

From my list on for new gardeners.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a gardening instructor and designer, I've been recommending these five books for years. They were the core texts of the Fundamentals of Gardening course I've been teaching at the New York Botanical Garden for over a decade. Since the publication of The New Gardener’s Handbook, which covers all these topics in a more abbreviated way, I still recommend these five books to my students if they want to dig deeper. These books are what I call “keeper texts.” I own fewer and fewer actual gardening books these days, but it's a fact that a copy of each of these excellent resources resides on my office bookshelf where I refer to them frequently. 

Daryl's book list on for new gardeners

Daryl Beyers Why did Daryl love this book?

Soil is, without question, the foundation upon which every garden grows, and Grace Gershuny’s excellent follow-up to her classic, Start with Soil, is probably the best plain-spoken explanation of how soil works that you will find. I took soil science in college and barely survived. If only I had known about this book, it might have saved me some heartache and a flirtation with a failing grade. The Soul of Soil teaches you soil science in a fun and friendly way, which is exactly what gardening is meant to be.  

By Joseph Smillie, Grace Gershuny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Soul of Soil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soil is the basis not only for all gardening, but for all terrestrial life. No aspect of agriculture is more fundamental and important, yet we have been losing vast quantities of our finite soil resources to erosion, pollution, and development.

Now back in print, this eminently sensible and wonderfully well-focused book provides essential information about one of the most significant challenges for those attempting to grow delicious organic vegetables: the creation and maintenance of healthy soil.

Chapter 2, "Understanding the Soil System," is alone worth the price of admission. Gershuny and Smillie give lay readers and experts a clear explanation…


Book cover of The Plant Propagator's Bible: A Step-By-Step Guide to Propagating Every Plant in Your Garden

Daryl Beyers Author Of The New Gardener's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden

From my list on for new gardeners.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a gardening instructor and designer, I've been recommending these five books for years. They were the core texts of the Fundamentals of Gardening course I've been teaching at the New York Botanical Garden for over a decade. Since the publication of The New Gardener’s Handbook, which covers all these topics in a more abbreviated way, I still recommend these five books to my students if they want to dig deeper. These books are what I call “keeper texts.” I own fewer and fewer actual gardening books these days, but it's a fact that a copy of each of these excellent resources resides on my office bookshelf where I refer to them frequently. 

Daryl's book list on for new gardeners

Daryl Beyers Why did Daryl love this book?

One of the most exciting things new gardeners learn is how to make more plants, either by collecting seeds from the plants in their garden or learning how to clone the plants they own. Plant propagation is part science, part faith, and part plant wizardry, and Smith’s step-by-step presentation is the best I have found. With a recently published new edition, it’s easier than ever to have an illustrated guide at your side, showing you how to start seeds, take cuttings, or make grafts of all your favorite plants. 

By Miranda Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Plant Propagator's Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, veteran horticulture teacher Miranda Smith provides a complete reference showing every step for cultivating new plants—whether from seed or cuttings or with techniques such as layering, grafting, and budding.

Propagating new plants from existing ones is not only sustainable but also rewarding for gardeners of all skill levels. The Plant Propagator’s Bible offers a solid and complete, go-to reference for expert gardeners but is also a perfect primer for the novice plant lover and horticulturalist.

Smith teaches readers, with the support of hundreds of 4-color photos and detailed illustrations, the natural process and conditions in which…


Book cover of The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers

Daryl Beyers Author Of The New Gardener's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden

From my list on for new gardeners.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a gardening instructor and designer, I've been recommending these five books for years. They were the core texts of the Fundamentals of Gardening course I've been teaching at the New York Botanical Garden for over a decade. Since the publication of The New Gardener’s Handbook, which covers all these topics in a more abbreviated way, I still recommend these five books to my students if they want to dig deeper. These books are what I call “keeper texts.” I own fewer and fewer actual gardening books these days, but it's a fact that a copy of each of these excellent resources resides on my office bookshelf where I refer to them frequently. 

Daryl's book list on for new gardeners

Daryl Beyers Why did Daryl love this book?

Pruning is an easy skill to learn but a difficult art to master, and what better way to learn the trick of the trade than from two renowned English gardening experts. The first edition is a classic, while the second edition brings the techniques presented up to date, based upon all the recent science. It covers every possible pruning technique, from basic cuts to pleaching and making espaliers. The best part of this book is the index of plants at the back which provides a list of every possible woody plant and the right way, or ways, to prune it. This is a book I still carry in my truck today, where I have it handy if I encounter an unfamiliar plant that needs some thoughtful cuts. 

By George Ernest Brown, Tony Kirkham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How, when, and where to prune? The questions that beset every gardener never change, but the solutions do. The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers recommends the best pruning techniques and practices. This unique encyclopaedic treatment details the best pruning methods for more than 450 genera of trees, shrubs, conifers, and woody climbers. The A-Z format covers several thousand species, yet remains a manageable and practical reference. Kirkham clearly explains the reasons behind pruning techniques as well as how to apply them.


Book cover of Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning: What, When, Where & How to Prune for a More Beautiful Garden

Daryl Beyers Author Of The New Gardener's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden

From my list on for new gardeners.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a gardening instructor and designer, I've been recommending these five books for years. They were the core texts of the Fundamentals of Gardening course I've been teaching at the New York Botanical Garden for over a decade. Since the publication of The New Gardener’s Handbook, which covers all these topics in a more abbreviated way, I still recommend these five books to my students if they want to dig deeper. These books are what I call “keeper texts.” I own fewer and fewer actual gardening books these days, but it's a fact that a copy of each of these excellent resources resides on my office bookshelf where I refer to them frequently. 

Daryl's book list on for new gardeners

Daryl Beyers Why did Daryl love this book?

This book perfectly demystifies the art of pruning trees and shrubs for even the most apprehensive gardener. Turnbull’s conversational style and matter-of-fact presentation of all you need to know to do it right and not wreck your plants, has been a fan favorite for years. I recommend it to my gardening students that may find the Brown/Kirkham pruning book a bit on the dry side. Cass makes pruning sound fun, and important, blending her horticultural knowledge and skill with a keen political sensibility that stresses the ethics of doing things the right way for the health and well-being of your plants.  

By Cass Turnbull,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This 3rd Edition of Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning covers more than twenty additional plants in three new chapters. The result is the new definitive guide for the home gardener with friendly, expert advice from Cass Turnbull, founder of Seattle's PlantAmnesty, whose mission is "to end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs caused by mal-pruning." Nothing about pruning is obvious. In fact, most of it is downright counterintuitive. People try to prune plants like they cut lumber or hair. But that doesn't work to get what they want. Your plants are actually telling you how they want…


Book cover of The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants

William Alexander Author Of The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for a Perfect Garden

From my list on a gardening life.

Why am I passionate about this?

William Alexander’s best-selling gardening memoir, The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for a Perfect Garden has been praised for its fresh, humorous, and honest take on home gardening. The books he’s selected similarly break the mould for garden books, featuring rabid rose gardeners, an obsessive breeder, and a Czech playwright.

William's book list on a gardening life

William Alexander Why did William love this book?

Gardening, whether in a backyard or a hundred-acre orchard, is an audacious attempt to improve on nature, and Smith’s fascinating hybrid of biography, history, and botany brings to life the most audacious of them all. The only biography on my list, I’ve included it because, in an age where we might be forgiven for thinking it takes millions of corporate dollars and genetic engineers to produce a new plant, The Garden of Invention reminds us how one man’s singular determination, patience, and brilliance can change the world. And produce the perfect potato for McDonald’s French fries.

By Jane S. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Garden of Invention as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The wide-ranging and delightful history of celebrated plant breeder Luther Burbank and the business of farm and garden in early twentieth- century America

At no other time in history has there been more curiosity or concern about the food we eat-and genetically modified foods, in particular, have become both pervasive and suspect. A century ago, however, Luther Burbank's blight-resistant potatoes, white blackberries, and plumcots-a plum-apricot hybrid-were celebrated as triumphs in the best tradition of American ingenuity and perseverance. In his experimental grounds in Santa Rosa, California, Burbank bred and cross-bred edible and ornamental plants-for both home gardens and commercial farms-until…


Book cover of Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

Jenny Price Author Of Stop Saving the Planet!: An Environmentalist Manifesto

From my list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer, artist, and historian, and I’ve spent much of my career trying to blow up the powerful American definition of environment as a non-human world “out there”, and to ask how it’s allowed environmentalists, Exxon, and the EPA alike to refuse to take responsibility for how we inhabit environments. Along the way, I’ve written Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America and "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA"; co-founded the LA Urban Rangers public art collective; and co-created the “Our Malibu Beaches” phone app. I currently live in St. Louis, where I’m a Research Fellow at the Sam Fox School at Washington University-St. Louis. 

Jenny's book list on revolutionize how Americans think about nature

Jenny Price Why did Jenny love this book?

A self-critical and often hysterically funny account of what happens when you plant a garden to be “one with nature” and nature has other ideas. Still my favorite Pollan book (his first!), which is saying a lot. Favorite bit: his journey from “living in harmony” with a resident groundhog to an albeit ill-considered act of firebombing.

By Michael Pollan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Second Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An account of one man's experience in his garden.


Book cover of The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obession

Roderick Floud Author Of England's Magnificent Gardens: How a Billion-Dollar Industry Transformed a Nation, from Charles II to Today

From my list on the history of the gardening industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love visiting other people’s gardens, great and small. There are many thousands throughout England but, as I surveyed the beauty of the lakes and rolling lawns of one of them, I was struck by a question: how much did it cost? I found that none of the huge number of books on gardening and garden history gave an answer, so (drawing on my experience as an economic historian) I had to try for myself. Fifteen years later, after delving in archives, puzzling out the intricacies of lakes and dams, exploring ruined greenhouses, peering into the bothies in which gardening apprentices lived, England’s Magnificent Gardens is my answer.

Roderick's book list on the history of the gardening industry

Roderick Floud Why did Roderick love this book?

Gardening is indeed an obsession, which can drive men and women to madness and penury. It is fuelled by competition, the desire to have the latest, most exotic specimen. Andrea Wulf captures beautifully the mania for American plants which swept across English gardens in the 1700s, as the plant-hunter John Bartram of Virginia teamed up with the London merchant, Peter Collinson, to import boxes of plants and seeds into the UK. If they survived the long sea voyage, they were then nurtured by English aristocrats and their head gardeners, at vast expense, before becoming so common that few gardeners in Europe today know where they came from.

By Andrea Wulf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Brother Gardeners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of The Invention of Nature, a fascinating look at the men who made Britain the center of the botanical world.

“Wulf’s flair for storytelling is combined with scholarship, brio, and a charmingly airy style. ... A delightful book—and you don’t need to be a gardener to enjoy it.”—The New York Times Book Review

Bringing to life the science and adventure of eighteenth-century plant collecting, The Brother Gardeners is the story of how six men created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world in the process. It is a story of a garden revolution that began…


Book cover of My Weeds: A Gardener's Botany

Pam Peirce Author Of Golden Gate Gardening,  The Complete Guide to Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California

From my list on gaining garden know-how.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was studying plant science in graduate school, I realized that what I really wanted to do was not lab research but to help people understand plants better so they could grow more beautiful and bountiful gardens. To this end, I have written several books, founded the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), taught horticulture at City College of San Francisco for several decades, and, since 2006, written a column on gardening for the SF Chronicle. My list of books about gardening know-how will painlessly prepare you to grow plants well.

Pam's book list on gaining garden know-how

Pam Peirce Why did Pam love this book?

While you will learn much about the nature and management of weeds from this book, you will also find yourself painlessly learning the basics of botany-- the parts of plants, how they live, how seeds evolved, how ecosystems evolve. While she keeps weeds at bay, Stein favors a garden, as do I, in which the desirable plants may self-sow a bit. It is a gardening philosophy that is current and can produce lovely, serendipitous gardens. 

By Sarah B. Stein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Weeds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of this work tells readers what weeds tell us about our gardens and the lives of all plants. She compares weeding tools and methods, and discusses the uses of weeds.


Book cover of The Gardener

Lisa Doseff Author Of Grandma Lisa's Humming, Buzzing, Chirping Garden

From my list on gardening to make a difference in the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always enjoyed both gardening and children. As a former Virginia Master Gardener and Homeschool mom, and a current Lancaster National Wildlife Federation Habitat Steward, I now find myself encouraging others to look at gardening in a new light – not only as a way to decorate their yards, but also as a means to provide habitat for our diminishing wildlife population. I try to show how you can have both beauty and function at the same time and how much fun it is to engage children in this essential activity. I love books that show what a difference one person – even a young child – can make in the world.

Lisa's book list on gardening to make a difference in the world

Lisa Doseff Why did Lisa love this book?

I am inspired by this lovely story! When Lydia Grace finds herself going to the city to live with her grumpy uncle during hard times, she seeks to find a way to make him smile. Having had a few ‘challenging people’ in my own life who I tried to cajole out of their funky moods, I love how her indomitable spirit and love of gardening cheers those around her, all while she makes a wonderful surprise out of the very little that she has. It shows that beauty can be found – or planted – in the most unexpected places.

By Sarah Stewart, David Small (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Gardener as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

The Gardener is a 1997 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and a 1998 Caldecott Honor Book.

From the author-and-illustrator team of the bestselling The Library.

Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a cantankerous baker. There she initiates a gradual transformation, bit by bit brightening the shop and bringing smiles to customers' faces with the flowers she grows. But it is in a secret place that Lydia Grace works on her masterpiece -- an ambitious rooftop garden --…


Book cover of Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden

Andrea Lani Author Of Uphill Both Ways: Hiking toward Happiness on the Colorado Trail

From my list on women in the wild.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Colorado gal living in Maine, where I make the most of the long winters and gloomy springs by spending as much time as I can outside in our 20 acres of woods and fields. I hiked the Colorado Trail twice, in 1996 with my husband and in 2016 with my husband and three kids. My book tells the story of this second hike, as well as the natural and environmental history of Colorado. I’m a Maine Master Naturalist, and I’m passionate about connecting people to the natural world through nature journaling and nature writing workshops.

Andrea's book list on women in the wild

Andrea Lani Why did Andrea love this book?

Dungy’s beautiful book demonstrates that the wild doesn’t have to be a pristine mountain wilderness, far removed from other people. The wild in her book is a place she creates herself by turning a suburban yard into a refuge of wild plants and critters.

As a lazy gardener, I admired the astonishing amount of labor she put into replacing rocks and lawns with beautiful blooms while battling bindweed and other undesirables. I related to her struggles with parenting and writing through the pandemic, and I appreciated her musings on colonialism and racial violence. Having read her book, I might even put more effort into my garden.

By Camille T. Dungy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Soil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A seminal work that expands how we talk about the natural world and the environment as National Book Critics Circle Criticism finalist Camille T. Dungy diversifies her garden to reflect her heritage.

In Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden, poet and scholar Camille T. Dungy recounts the seven-year odyssey to diversify her garden in the predominately white community of Fort Collins, Colorado. When she moved there in 2013, with her husband and daughter, the community held strict restrictions about what residents could and could not plant in their gardens.

In resistance to the homogenous policies that limited the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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