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Review: What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?)

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What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?)

Courtesy of Timber Press

The Bottom Line

What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?) is a book that every gardener, whether you're a newbie or an old pro, should have on the shelf. 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.


  • Easy-to-use, flowchart system to diagnose plant problems.
  • Clear color photographs of plant ailments.
  • Detailed organic treatments for each ailment are provided.


  • Some of the charts in the book can be a bit confusing.


  • Simple "yes" or "no" questions, based on which part of the plant is affected, help lead you to a diagnosis and treatment.
  • The book covers flowers, fruits, vegetables, bulbs, houseplants, seed starting and seedlings, shrubs, trees, and lawns.
  • Features advice about using the least toxic organic treatment first, and takes the reader through treatments step-by-step.

Guide Review - Review: What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?)

One problem I had with many garden books when I started out as a gardener was that it was so difficult to diagnose problems in your garden unless you already knew the name of the problem. You had to know the name so you could look it up in the index or table of contents, and then, (hopefully you had the right name for the problem) you could go on to read about how to solve the problem. What if you didn't know that the spots on your tomato foliage were Septoria? Good luck.

So when I received a copy of What's Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?), I was excited to see that it diagnoses plant problems the way a gardener would: by looking at the plant first, seeing what part of the plant is affected, describing what you're seeing, and THEN providing a name and treatment. The book is organized into three parts: Part One consists of a series of flowcharts in which you answer simple "yes" or "no" questions to lead you to a diagnosis of your problem. This section is divided into chapters for foliage, stems, fruit, and flower buds, among others.

Part Two provides recommended organic treatments for the problems that you diagnosed in Part One. And Part Three is full of detailed photos of the damage you diagnosed in Part One, so you can be absolutely sure you came to the right conclusion. It's an ingenious system, and very easy to use.

Me, the Skeptic

While I was excited about the organization of What's Wrong With My Plant? and its claims of being a "Visual Guide to Easy Diagnosis and Organic Remedies" I was also a bit skeptical. Could it really be so simple? Would these nifty little flow charts really lead me to the correct diagnosis?

I tested it with problems I've had in my own garden: Septoria, coddling moth, and iris borer. In each case, the flow charts led me to the correct diagnosis, a detailed photo, and a thorough plan of treatment.

Speaking of treatment: this book provides organic solutions for the problems you diagnose in Part One. The authors do a fantastic job of explaining that not all organic treatments are "safe" by default, that some (such as pyrethrin and neem) still have in impact on the ecosystem, and should be used with care.

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