Plant Science for Gardeners empowers growers to analyze common problems, find solutions, and make better decisions in the garden for optimal plant health and productivity. Most gardeners learn by accumulating rules – water once a week, never dry out snowdrop bulbs, prune lilacs after flowering, plant garlic in October – the list is endless. Rules take years to learn and yet leave you floundering when the unexpected strikes and plants look unhealthy, produce poorly, or die. There is a better way.
By understanding the basic biology of how plants grow, you can become a thinking gardener with the confidence to problem solve for optimized plant health and productivity. Learn the science and ditch the rules. Coverage includes:
- The biology of roots, stems, leaves, and flowers
- Understanding how plants function as whole organisms
- The role of nutrients and inputs
- Vegetables, flowers, grasses, and trees and shrubs
- Propagation and genetics
- Sidebars that explode common gardening myths
- Tips for evaluating plant problems and finding solutions.
Whether you're a home gardener, micro-farmer, market gardener, or homesteader, this entertaining and accessible guide shortens the learning curve and gives you the knowledge to succeed no matter where you live.
Introduction to Plant Science
Organization of the Book
Terms Used in This Book
1. Plant Basics
Xylem and Phloem
Plant Myth: Plants Raise the Oxygen Level in Homes
ATP and the Energy Cycle
Classification of Plants
Types of Roots
Plant Myth: Feeder Roots Are Located Under the Dripline
Effect of Gravity
Cut Roots and Side Roots
Plant Myth: Circulating Roots Continue to Circulate
Conditions That Affect Root Growth
Plant Myth: Transplant Solutions Grow Better Roots
Root Growth in Winter
Absorption of Water and Nutrients
Plant Myth: Is Soil pH Important?
Roots and Microbes
Plant Myth: Purchased Mycorrhizal Fungi Are Good for Plants
Plant Myth: Roots Grow Towards Water
The Outer Structure of Stems
Internal Structure of Stems
How Stems Grow
The Importance of Photosynthesis
Plant Myth: Plant Bulbs after the Ground Is Frozen
Plant Myth: Bearded Iris Should Be Planted with Rhizome Showing
How Sun Affects Leaves
Why Are Some Leaves Red?
Plant Myth: Evergreen Needles and Oak Leaves Are Acidic
Functionality of Damaged Leaves
Signaling Between Plants
Water Stress and Wilting Leaves
Parts of a Flower
What Causes Flowering?
Why Do Plants Not Flower?
Plant Myth: High Phosphate Grows More Blooms
Tough Love for Plants
Enjoy the Bracts
Dioecious and Monoecious Plants
6. Fruits and Seeds
What Is a Fruit?
The Importance of Fruit
Different Types of Fruits
Suckering Tomato Plants
Seeds from Non-Flowering Plants
Soil Seed Bank
7. The Whole Plant
Life Cycle of Plants
Movement of Water
Movement of Nutrients
Plant Myth: Leaves Can Be Used to ID Nutrient Deficiencies
Movement of Sugars
Seasonal Sharing of Resources
Overcoming Physical Damage
How Do Plants Get Taller?
Following the Sun
How Light Affects Plant Growth
8. Woody Plants
What Are Woody Plants?
Structure of Woody Stems
Where Does Wood Come From?
Plant Myth: Newly Planted Trees Need to Be Staked
Storage of Sugars
Taproots vs. Fibrous Roots
Composition of Wood
Plant Myth: Damage on Trees Should Be Painted
9. Environmental Factors
Garden Hardiness Zones
Dealing with Cold
Protecting Plants from Cold
Dealing with Heat
Dealing with Water Extremes
Adaptability of Plants
How Climate Change Affects Gardens
10. Growing from Seeds
When Is Seed Mature?
The Seed Germination Process
The Mysterious Cotyledons
Why Do Seeds Stay Dormant?
Plant Myth: Seeds Can Have Double Dormancy
Best Method for Starting Seeds Indoors
11. Selecting Seeds
Hybrids vs. Heirlooms
Days to Maturity
Buying Unusual Seeds
12. Vegetative Reproduction
Natural Vegetative Reproduction
Rooted Stems and Leaves
Artificial Vegetative Reproduction
Plant Myth: Homemade Rooting Hormones Work Well
13. Plant Names
Why Use Botanical Names?
The Proper Way to Name Your Plants
About the Author
Connect with Robert Pavlis
About New Society Publishers
Robert Pavlis has been an avid gardener for over four decades. He is the owner and developer of Aspen Grove Gardens, a 6-acre botanical garden that features over 3,000 varieties of plants. Specializing in soil science, he has been an instructor for Landscape Ontario and is a garden blogger, writer, and chemist. The author of Building Natural Ponds and Soil Science for Gardeners, Pavlis is a well-known speaker whose audiences include Master Gardener groups, horticultural societies, orchid societies, and garden shows such as Canada Blooms and the FarmSmart conference. He teaches gardening fundamentals at the University of Guelph and garden design for the City of Guelph, Canada, where he currently resides.
"Robert Pavlis hit the nail on the head: know the science and you can grow anything. Plant Science for Gardeners, Pavlis' latest, is a sure (and enjoyable) way to learn that science. Mind you, Pavlis is not just a gardener who knows his science, he is a great science writer who does a fabulous job of making science fun. I am quite sure you are one read away from being a much better gardener."
- Jeff Lowenfels, author, DIY Autoflowering Cannabis and Teaming with Microbes
"A work of genuine importance by an author for whom the phrase "received wisdom" is a contradiction in terms. You will never take horticultural lore at face value again."
- James Armitage, editor, The Plant Review, magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society
"Knowing just how plants work is an interesting and useful way to ratchet up your gardening game and Robert Pavlis has provided that story in his engaging new book Plant Science for Gardeners. Read it and your garden will blossom, literally and figuratively."
- Lee Reich, author, Growing Figs in Cold Climates and The Ever Curious Gardener
"Robert Pavlis has provided another detailed, yet accessible, addition to gardeners' home libraries. Be sure to give Plant Science for Gardeners an honored place on your bookshelves, next to Mr. Pavlis' groundbreaking Garden Myths series."
- Rebecca Martin, technical editor, Mother Earth News magazine
"Plant Science for Gardeners is at once easy to read and comprehensive in presentation. Robert Pavlis has updated and made accessible information that in the past I have gleaned here and there from old textbooks and the odd gardening book. It's a great reference and a fascinating read. This book will be the next gift I buy for my budding botanist granddaughter!"
- Darrell Frey, author, The Bioshelter Market Garden, co-author, The Food Forest Handbook
"Whether you grow plants for fun or for profit, Plant Science for Gardeners does a great job of explaining how plants work without overcomplicating it. This is an excellent book not only for the basics, but also to explain some of the lesser known aspects of plants. Whether you've taken plant biology and physiology or not, it is a good read for anyone who's interested in plants, and to keep on the shelf as a reference for when you forget the difference between a node and internode. Get this book to understand what to do to keep your plants healthy and why."
- Andrew Mefferd, editor and publisher, Growing for Market magazine, author, The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution