tropical plants and how to love themMuch work, much love and not a few moments of sheer panic have gone into the beautiful book that you now see up on the website and on Instagram and Facebook.

The industry reviews from both the US and the UK are in, and they are wonderful — and humbling! But I’m not so humble that I won’t ask you to please share news of the book to your friends, followers and family!

Tropical Plants and How To Love Them will be released in April, but it is available for pre-order NOW.  At the end of this post, you’ll find a special gift-offer for those who have already pre-ordered the book, or those who are just about to.

But for those of you who are dithering as you watch this exciting new tropical trend take off, I’d like to give you a handy list of the top ten reasons you should go ahead and indulge yourself – even if you don’t think you’re that into tropical plants.


Number 10

Neither was I.  Fifteen years ago I didn’t use tropical plants in my garden. Wouldn’t you rather learn about a group of plants from an experienced temperate gardener who has come to slowly adopt and adore them instead of someone who eats, dreams and breathes in tropical plant minutiae and can’t imagine why you WOULDN’T want to join in their obsession?

If you’re a temperate gardener in a cool climate and you’re skeptical about the work, the effect, and the return on investment, I know where you’re coming from.

“This playfully and passionately written book is filled with fresh ideas, not only for enhancing your garden and home with tropical plants, but for helping you adapt your own mindset so you can experience much more enjoyment from this exciting corner of the botanical world.”

– Viveka Neveln, Garden Editor, Better Homes and Gardens

Number 9

When I say “Tropical” I mean, “Tropical AND Subtropical.”  I also mean, “How to use your houseplants outside.” I ALSO mean, “How to use tropical plants in the kitchen.”

(There are only so many words you can put on a cover.)

Wow. That’s like getting four books in one.

Number 8

I’ve created memorable categories to help you choose how to care for them.  And, in doing so I’ve put my reputation for classy, academic writing on the line. All to help you love and utilize these plants as much as I do.

Do you know how many smirks I’ll have to endure from fellow garden writers because I used words like “relationship” and “sexy” to refer to a plant?  I’ll hardly be able to hold my head up.


And I’ll certainly never live this down, though it’s not from the book. It’s from my lecture on the book (which is even more fun!). Brookside Gardens is offering this lecture virtually to the public on May 15th- click the photo above to be redirected to registration and more information.

Number 7

Detailed instructions. DETAILED.  Not, “these will overwinter fine in your garage” or “bring them inside for the winter” or “needs a bit more care” Or “spritz them occasionally.” Nope.

Instead you’ll get wickedly helpful instructions for doing the least amount of work possible to get these gorgeous plants through the winter – sometimes completely out of sight! You’ll also get lists of tropicals to raise from seed; lists of tropicals that can be used for easy cuttings; and, for those who don’t want to fool with seeds, cuttings, digging or storing, a detailed list of the best ‘Mocktrops’ – hardy plants that only look like you’ve been schlepping them in and out to create a lush, tropical-looking garden.

“Marianne Willburn is an extraordinary writer, teacher, and gardener. This book is a must for anyone who loves gardening with ‘Exotica’. The pages are littered with good tips and expertise, and all of it done through the hand of a passionate plantsperson and communicator.”

– Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener, Great Dixter, UK


Mocktrops. They’re not tropical plants, they just look like they are. Use them to build structure that asks nothing from you in the winter. You’ll find a list of many of my favorites in the book.

Number 6

Absolution for choosing the compost pile at the end of the season.  In fact, that’s what the Summer Romance relationship is ALL ABOUT.  As friend and fellow tropical enthusiast Irvin Etienne says,  “It doesn’t have to be marriage and a picket fence.”  Just. Have. Fun.

taro and sweet potato vines

I ate three of these plants in October. The other three walked the long green mile to the compost pile.

Number 5

Thorough plant profiles for 60 genera, with hundreds of new and classic cultivars to help you look for the best tropical plants for your garden.  I admit to tricking my publisher (who had a sharp eye on word count) into including more genera than I’d originally negotiated by profiling five plant families.  There was a little grumbling, but I got away with it.

All for you.


tropical plants canna

“The more I read, the more I wanted to stop reading and drive immediately to my local garden center! Marianne’s passion for these plants is contagious, and her expertise will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of “tropical” gardeners.  I’m ready to plant!”

– Ellen Zachos, author of Tempting Tropicals

Number 4

A huge section on DESIGN.  Sure you can grow them. Sure you can overwinter them.  But using them strategically is the real trick.  I use tropical plants to create bold and exciting accents in my temperate garden to heighten the beauty of temperate plants and create texture and contrast – not to create incongruous, awkward and high-maintenance features. You can too.


Bananas in the August Garden

Number 3

Photos.  They’re gorgeous if I do say so myself.

canna and hydrangea

Number 2

It will help you create a holiday at home.  To say we all need a vacation is to understate the issue on a criminal level.  Tropical plants bring that sense of vacation, ease, atmosphere and sophistication to our balconies, our patios, our gardens and our living rooms.

They’re good medicine for a world at home.


rustic cocktails sign

And the Number One Reason for Pre-Ordering Tropical Plants and How To Love Them….

Summer is coming.

It’s going to be hot. For many gardens, it’s going to be humid.  Climate change is not being kind to us. Accept the challenge and meet it with bold, colorful and texture-rich plants that bring ENERGY to the summer and autumn garden. When temperate plants are ready to call it a night, tropical accents pour themselves another drink and settle in for a long, interesting conversation – smoothly taking the garden into its second wind.  Let them.

young garden with tropicals


Preordering the book ensures that you’ll have it the moment it releases, which will allow you to read it, have a huge AHA! moment, and get to the garden centers to snap up their tropicals before the hordes descend.  This is turn will lead to a garden that astounds your friends, wins international awards, is featured in Gardens Illustrated and cements your reputation in plant circles.

Well, astounds your friends anyway.

Right now, to thank readers for their patience with COVID delivery schedules, I’d like to send you a FREE autographed and personalized book plate for your new hardcover book. Simply send a proof of pre-order purchase to with your mailing address and first [and last] name and I’ll send it out immediately!

Options for pre-ordering Tropical Plants and How to Love Them

Links on this page direct you to Amazon, but there are many other options available both in the United States and in the UK, Australia and Canada where the book will be released at the same time.  Simply click this link to be redirected to Quarto’s page on Tropical Plants and How to Love Them where those links are quick and easy.

Launch Party!

Marianne WillburnIt thrills the socks off me (though I won’t be wearing them in May) to announce that we’ll be having a huge LAUNCH PARTY at Thanksgiving Farms in Frederick, Maryland on May 22nd — filled with book and plant giveaways! If you’re on our subscriber list, details will be emailed to you as we have them.

Bring your pre-ordered copy and I’ll sign it for you! I’ll show you some amazing plants and then I’ll let you loose to shop the nursery’s incredible selection of tropical and subtropical beauties.  Thanksgiving Farms is highly respected in the industry and is the home of Mad Science Brewing Company – where you can have one of the best beers in Maryland and enjoy artisan food trucks each weekend.  It promises to be a memorable day.