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What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?): A Visual Guide to Easy Diagnosis and Organic Remedies

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What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?): A Visual Guide to Easy Diagnosis and Organic Remedies [Paperback]

David Deardorff , Kathryn Wadsworth
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 5, 2009
Dealing with a sick plant is one of the most frustrating situations a gardener can face. More often than not, we have no idea what is causing the problem, or how to fix it. Fortunately, help is at hand. What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?) provides an easy system for visually diagnosing any problem, and matching it to the right cure.

This innovative and easy-to-use guide is split into three parts.

Part One presents easy-to-follow, illustrated flow charts ― organized by  where on the plant the symptoms appear ― that allow readers to accurately diagnose the problem. The format is so simple it doesn't even require knowing the name of the plant; all you need to know is whether the problem is affecting its roots, stem, flowers, or leaves. It does not matter whether the plant is a houseplant, perennial, vegetable, tree, or shrub.

Part Two offers a 100% organic way to fix the problem.  From improper growing conditions and environmental factors, to molds, pests, and diseases, every problem has a safe, natural solution. Part Three shows photographs and drawings of stressed, damaged, and diseased plants that help with accurate comparison.

Whether your garden consists of herbs on a kitchen windowsill, a vegetable garden, an elaborate backyard border, or a container on a patio, What's Wrong With My Plant? is an indispensable resource. If you can see it, you can fix it. Curing a sick plant just doesn't get any easier.

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Editorial Reviews


"Where does this book belong on my bookshelf? Front and center."
(Valerie Easton May Dreams Gardens Blog)

"What’s Wrong With My Plant is a wonderful book for the gardener facing his/her first garden problems. It's also a handy reference guide for experienced gardeners."
(Valerie Easton Oklahoma Gardening Examiner)

"I wish I had [this book] sooner, so I could have prevented the spread of fungus. This is a valuable reference for gardeners of virtually any skill level and experience."
(Deborah Roberts Mr. McGregor's Daughter Blog)

"Where does this book belong on my bookshelf? Front and center."
(Molly Day May Dreams Gardens Blog)

"[The book] is almost as good as having your own consulting plant doc at hand."
(Plant Talk blog)

“[The book] is almost as good as having your own consulting plant doc at hand.”
(Plant Talk blog)

What’s Wrong With My Plant? has trouble-shooting flow-charts and solutions aplenty.”
(The Tampa Tribune)

“This is a welcome reference book for any gardener, one to keep front and center on your bookcase so that when problems show up, you’ll be able to avoid your worst plant nightmares and continue to have a garden as your own paradise.”
(The Southside Times)

“It’s like having a Master Gardener at your beck and call, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, any season of the year.”

“This is the smartest, best-thought-out book on diagnosing plant problems (and how to solve them) that I have seen in all my years as a gardener.”
(Chronicle Herald)

“You’ll have experts waiting on your book shelf to help you. Because if you haven’t asked yourself ‘what’s wrong with that plant’ yet, you will one day.”
(Garden of Possibilities blog)

“This is a book that will grow dog-eared and dingy from use, yet remain on gardeners’ shelves for years to come.”

“[This book] is an answered prayer for all gardeners.”
(Real Dirt blog)

"This is one of the best books I've seen for guiding the gardener through the maze of maladies that can visit garden plants. ... This book is a valuable tool and long overdue."
(Washington Post)

"David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth have produced one of the best and most easily used keys to diagnosing a wide range of plant problems … makes a great gift for any gardener."

(Warwick Beacon)

"An essential book for anyone who gardens."

(Garden Design Online)

“This attractive, comprehensive, authoritative and easy-to-use guide, allowing gardeners to diagnose and organically treat a wide range of plant problems, is a worthy purchase.”
(Library Journal)

"It’s a handy reference book for figuring out how to help your plants stay healthy."
(Garden Gate)

"This is a massive undertaking, covering virtually every problem a gardener might come across. Because it’s easy to use, well written, and well illustrated, What’s Wrong With My Plant? an important reference that will help gardeners successfully diagnose their own plant problems and make educated decisions about how to solve them."
(New York Times Book Review)

"Many gardeners find it hard to ask for help. The excellent (and sturdy) What's Wrong with My Plant? ... will be indispensable to them, and to the rest of us as well. The information is concise: “A borer’s hole and frass (poop) are obvious on this asparagus stem.” (Thank you very much.) The illustrations are clear, the remedies organic. I promise you, things will go wrong. Be prepared."

(Stonington-Mystic Patch)

The book is a combination of drawings, photos and easy to understand advice on organic methods for diagnosing and treating a whole host of plants issues.
(Muskogee Phoenix)

Written by plant pathologists, What’s Wrong? thoroughly covers diagnosis and cure in three parts: Simple to follow, illustrated, flowcharts of problems, organic approaches to cures and photographs to clarify diagnosis.

About the Author

David Deardorff, botanist and expert plant pathologist, loves to write and lecture about how to grow healthier plants. As a research biologist David has lived and gardened in many environments, from the desert southwest to the maritime northwest to the tropics. Currently, he and co-author Kathryn Wadsworth can be found presenting workshops around the U.S. on a wide variety of topics, from ecology to gardening. David earned his Ph.D. in botany from the University of Washington. He coordinated plant pathology research at the University of Hawaii and served as faculty advisor to the Master Gardener Program at Washington State University. 

Kathryn Wadsworth, writer, photographer, and naturalist, enjoys sharing the wonders of the natural world with others. While leading eco-tours around the world she has studied plant life and explored natural history from Australia to Alaska. Currently, she and co-author David Deardorff can be found presenting workshops around the U.S. on a wide variety of topics, from gardening to ecology.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 452 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press (November 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881929611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881929614
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a system for plant problem diagnosis December 14, 2009
First, the disclaimer. David Deardorff worked for the Extension Office in the county where I was a Master Gardener. That was in the late 90s. Saying that he is knowledgeable is like saying the ocean has some water in it. I was impressed by him then and only have my esteem for him increased by this book.

There are a number of books available that cover plant problems. The problem, until now, is that none of them include a systematic method for nailing down the source. You browse the book until you find a photo that looks like your problem plant then read. If you're lucky the book has a good index that uses the same terms to describe problems that you do. Having spent untold hours in Master Gardener plant clinics helping people diagnose plant problems I would have loved to have had this book back then.

In What's Wrong With My Plant, Deardorff and Wadsworth offer us a straightforward diagnostic *system*. There's a step-by-step flowchart method for figuring out what's wrong. The method is brilliant and what's even better, it's explained well, in easy to understand language. That's the first part of the book. The rest of the book is the typical encyclopedia of photos and descriptions. The photos are clear and the descriptions are in straightforward, plain English. Organic solutions are offered.

Some people may find the solution section a bit limited. You won't find suggestions for toxic chemicals to, say, kill bugs. I won't go into organic solution vs. toxic pesticide debate, other to say that the solutions offered in this book are time tested and do work. They may take a bit more effort than buying a spray, but will leave you with a healthier garden overall. Even if you don't believe that, the diagnostic portion of the book still offers the best system anybody has come up with
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70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How's this for a review: BUY THIS BOOK! November 21, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just received my copy of "What's Wrong with my Plant?" this week, and I cannot tell you how many times I've wished for a resource like this! It's, at once, straight-forward, but detailed and complete. And, I don't have to know the Latin name for my plants or trees (or vegetables, for that matter). There is a caution -- it is 451 pages long, BUT the good news is that you don't really have to read it all for it to work.

The authors combine drawings, photos, and prose with a no-fault process that anyone can use...homeowners, landscapers, lawn maintenance crews, everyone! Nurseries oughta hide one in the back room, so they can return to a questioning customer with brilliant, accurate advice. WalMart and the big box stores, ought to stock the book, too!

I got the hardback verson and I'm glad I did because this is a lifetime resource. And, I'm also giving a few copies away as Christmas presents, knowing full-well that they'll be actually be used by the recipients for a long time hence.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for all seasons November 14, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is wonderful. The information is clear and concise, backed up and explained with clear pictures. You can't go wrong with it. Very user friendly and helpful. A lot of books seem to promise more than they can deliver--not this one. It delivers what it promises, and then some. Without a whole lot of jargon or verbiage, it shows you how to figure out exactly what is bothering your plant and then how to fix it. Brilliant! Highly recommended.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the bible of plant care July 14, 2013
By Andrea
I bought this book having big problems with spider mites, smaller aphid problems and an unexplainable browning of leaves. Sadly, the advice is very general and you'll find yourself thumbing through all the book to find some practical advice only to get ideas such as: hose down your plants, use neem oil or pesticides. There was nothing like use vinegar plus baking soda for spider mites, which I found after searching for many, many hours, dishwasher liquid spray for aphids or CO2 if you have a sealed environment. Interestingly enough, lace bugs, beetles, aphids, maggots and a full page of other insects all have the same solutions which sadly don't really work. One of the things I found very funny was the 2 possible solutions for bulbs with spider mites: start with mite-free bulbs and protect bulbs in storage. Oh, really?

On the plus side, the pictures are nice but neither the pictures, nor the illustrations are very, very helpful and your plant problem may be something that the book depicts a bit differently.

Bottom line: you are better off searching for solutions online than paying for a thick, glossy book with nice pictures and very general advice.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful resource March 21, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I appreciate this book for the way it is organized. It refers the reader to a chain of possible problems and solutions for each symptom. I was not able to find a picture of a particular pest that has infected many of my plants, and am still not sure what it is; however, for most everything else, this book has been able to identify the issues my plants have had.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karen in Hawaii December 19, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is just fantastic. I found that a lot of plant reference books do not transfer to our tropical environment in Hawaii. They are too mainland-centric. But this book helped me diagnose and successfully treat several lingering problems I had been having in my garden - from aphids, to sooty mold, to missing nutrients in my soil. The book is super easy to use, anyone can follow the clear illustrations and concise text. I also love the descriptive opening of each chapter. This book makes me feel like a smart and capable gardener. Plus my garden now looks amazing!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good reference when you're not sure what is wrong with a particular plant.
Published 4 months ago by Eva Klatt
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference
I use this book a lot as a Master Gardener reference. It's answered questions about my own plants and questions from others, as well.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource for any gardener!
This book is not meant to be read cover to cover, it is more of a "choose your own adventure" type reference book. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Shannon Savisky
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Definitely a "bible" of plant diseases and how to treat them organically and with pesticides.
Published 5 months ago by MJD
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Better than I expected
Published 6 months ago by ALI ERDAL AKKAYA
5.0 out of 5 stars It has many pictures inside and is easy to identify your problem
Extremely user friendly book. It has many pictures inside and is easy to identify your problem. There are like step by step scenarios to determine what exactly is taking over your... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Cynthia
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Can't wait to dig into this book and figure out my garden problems.
Published 7 months ago by Kathleen S. Price
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE IT!
Awesome... Thank you😁
Published 7 months ago by Pamela
4.0 out of 5 stars most all you need
Good info nice illustrations and photos EZ to understand .
Published 8 months ago by Teresa S.
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