Reader input wanted for new book

(Note:  I’ll be doing another blog posting later today.  Just want to be sure I get this out.)

I’m writing a new book on plant physiology for gardeners – a book that explains how plants work and why they sometimes do weird and unexpected things. I’d like to hear what kind of “how” or “why” questions you’d like to see answered in this type of book.  Please add your comments to this post, or send them to me directly. And if there are other gardeners you know who might want to send suggestions, be sure to send them the link!

Published by

Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and a Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - Books:

17 thoughts on “Reader input wanted for new book”

  1. Okay, here’s a question I’ve not been able to find a good answer for — maybe you can! Do plants have some sort of internal calendar, equivalent to their internal circadian clock? Sometimes it seems like they do. For example, colchicum bulbs will flower about the same time in the fall no matter if they are planted in the ground or sitting in a box waiting for someone to plant them. No matter the environmental signals of temperature, moisture or day length, they flower about the same time. And even daffodils and such, though you can force them to flower earlier or later by controlling temperature etc, can only be forced so far from their normal bloom time. That all makes me guess there is some kind of internal calendar, but last time I looked, I wasn’t able to find any research on the subject, and I don’t know if there are alternative explanations I haven’t thought of.

  2. Why do plants, especially trees, flower and set seed well when they have perfect conditions but also even better when they are heavily stressed.

  3. 1. We’ve been taught that strong healthy plants are able to fend off disease and pest attacks. How? What is the plant equivalent of an immune system? Something more easily understood than this.

    2. How do really toxic plants manage to not kill their pollinator allies?

    3. I loved the GP’s early explanations of various tropisms and nastic reactions – helped me to find better vocabulary without anthropomorphizing when putting on a workshop. Would love to have a single source reference, without needing a degree in botany to follow, and in laymen terms. “Heartbreak of Splayage” e.g. still sticks with me.

  4. There was a lot of observatinos in The experimental control of plant growth. by Went, F. W. about the movement and actions of auxins that should appeal to the reader today if taken from the original book and rewritten for today’s readers.

  5. Ray, on question number 1 the challenge with pest-host interactions has been trying to generalize responses have multiple variables. What type of stress is involved? Drought? Cold? Heat? Nutrients? Which ones? Then factor in what type of pest. Defoliator? Bark beetle? Shoot borer? Root weevil? A prevailing thought is that plants can allocate carbohydrate to either growth or to secondary defense compounds. Do
    a Google Scholar search for “The dilemma of plants: to grow or defend”. Note that Herms and Mattson’s paper has been cited over 1500 times but a fair number of these are actually critical of the theory.

  6. Why did my climbing rosebush suddenly revert to its rootstock? What was once a large, pale yellow rose became a fungus-infested ugly red rose.

  7. I would like to know more about the about the importance of plant provenance. Here in Florida we’ve been told that even though the species may be the same (such as red maple), plants that originate from northern stock will not do well in Florida’s climate. They will bloom and leaf out too late in the season and may have a difficult time with the heat, humidity and our seven-month dry season.
    I think this is related to the first comment by Joseph T.

  8. Whoosh! The sound of things passing over my head. The things: articles that come up in a “The dilemma of plants: to grow or defend” Google search. Definitely above my pay scale. How about something simpler like, how does a plant react/defend against different stresses; a plant’s toolbox of possible ways to defend itself from attack. Is there a name for such a thing? Like “immune system”?

  9. Never fear, Ray! I’ll be sure to cover plant defense systems, physical, chemical, and behavioral.
    Thanks for all of these great ideas. I’ll continue collecting them as long as you keep providing them.

  10. Sounds interesting; is fasciation physiological? How about a tendril’s response to tactile stimulus? Swollen buds, nodes and burr-knots in apple trees? I am fascinated by the variation in leaf shapes even on the same plant..what factors enter into that? Have you noticed patterns repeated in vastly unrelated species such as when the veins of a pumpkin leaf echo the branching pattern of a frond of maidenhair fern?

  11. Please cover why a tree or shrub will lose its inside leaves and branches (my explanation is that a treeis the original economist and only supports that which contributes with photosynthesis)

  12. Why do bulbs divide? I mean, how this can benefit the plant?
    The new bulbs occupy the same space; this can’t be used as a distribution method.

  13. Lu, wouldn’t the old bulbs eventually succumb to old age? Also the underground foragers often eat the largest and leave the smallest

  14. How do plants control the entry of chemicals into the roots? Both by type of chemical and quantity of chemical.

    When roots grow, is their direction of growth completely random? For example, will more phosphate on the east side of a plant short of phosphate grow more roots on the east side?

  15. I am a new reader of the GP blog-love it!-and may find when I look in the archives that some, or all, of these subjects have been covered. I know some about all off these subjects, but always want to know more!
    1. The unanswered mysteries of gravitropism
    2. The myriad and amazing interactions between bacteria, fungi, and plants (beneficial and non beneficial)
    3. The mechanisms of plant diseases
    4. The truths (or not) behind companion planting-physiologically speaking
    5. Mechanisms of herbicides-what they really do to plants on a cellular level
    6. Cold and heat shock responses (again cellular)

    I look forward to reading your book.

Leave a Reply