NC Handbook for Gardeners

Book NCHandbookAmong the perks of being an Extension Master Gardener is receiving a comprehensive manual that accompanies you through the initial 40 hours of training and remains a trusted companion in the years thereafter. Now, for the first time, the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook, newly revised in April 2018, is available to all.

Written by a team of the state’s leading horticulture experts, the Handbook is a fundamental reference for anyone gardening in North Carolina or a neighboring southeastern state. It contains a wealth of information about the basics of gardening from soils and composting to vegetable gardening, garden design, and wildlife management. It covers maintenance of lawns, ornamentals, fruits, trees, and containers and specific management strategies for insects, diseases, weeds, and other pests.

The 728-page hardcover edition is enhanced with hundreds of color images, detailed graphics, diagnostic tables, case studies, and frequently asked questions. It normally retails for $60, but is currently on sale at for a 40 percent discount. (Use promotion code 01Holiday.)

A few more favorites

Here are a few more favorite gardening books chosen by this blog’s regular contributors.

The Southern Gardener’s Book of Lists: The Best Plants for All Your Needs, Wants, and Whims, by  Lois Trigg Chaplin. “This is an oldie but a goodie! Published in 1994 it has a plant list for everything in your garden. A few examples: Perennials for an Alkaline Garden; Trees with ‘Perfect’ Form, Shrubs that Bloom in the Shade, Perennials for Heavy Clay Soil … the lists go on and on!” – Kathryn Hamilton

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, by Douglas W.  Tallamy. “This book is both a motivational book and a quick reference for gardening with native plants in your area. The appendices are easy to use and the native plant lists for each area of the country are divided into different plant types for easy reference for your specific gardening needs: Shade and Specimen trees, Shrubs and Understory Trees, Conifers, Vines, Streamside plants, Ground covers and Herbaceous perennials, both dry & moist sites, Grasses, sedges and rushes and Ferns. I already gave my friend in British Columbia the list of natives for the Pacific Northwest. I go back to his native plant lists and butterfly host plant lists when I am trying to decide between two viable natives to plant and use his suggestion to increase the benefit to wildlife. The photographs of the insects are fascinating.” – Wendy Diaz

“The Triangle region is blessed with many places to explore nature – state, county and regional parks, or nature preserves like those managed by Triangle Land Conservancy. When I’m enjoying these places, I like to bring along Wildflowers of North Carolina by William S. Justice, C. Ritchie Bell and Anne H. Lindsey as a field guide. It contains 500 native or naturalized plants and though the entries are brief – two per page – there is a color image of each plant and enough pertinent information to help identify them in the wild.” – Andrea Laine  


Purchase the Extension Gardener Handbook at:

Learn more about the UNC Press Holiday Sale

The North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook is also available online in an open access format: