Apparently, Prince Charles was right: talking to plants isn't barmy. As it turns out, however, it's not the words of encouragement that keep the primroses blooming, but the huff of breath while talking to and watering houseplants that helps those routine-lovers adjust to changing wind conditions around the house and garden. This and many other rich tidbits in The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual will convince hapless home gardeners that they can have the many benefits of indoor landscapes without committing horticultural homicide. Here's something the guilt-ridden might like to know, thanks to author Barbara Pleasant: some houseplants are only meant to survive a year or two (whew), many can't cope with dry indoor air without daily help, and even within varieties, plants are like children, each having their own personalities and needing a slightly different approach. That said, this attractive illustrated directory boosts beginners' confidence with a directory of hardy houseplants from cacti and succulents to orchids, bulbs and blooming plants. Pleasant discusses each variety's characteristics and needs including water/humidity, food and light (she has a fantastic method for determining indoor lighting strengths and best plant positions). A handy symbol a cute flowerpot also marks the most hardy, abuse-proof houseplants (think Devil's Ivy) to ensure that even novices can have immediate success.

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