DelPrince pens textbook about 'interiorscaping'


Jim DelPrince, a professor in Mississippi State University’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, surrounds himself with tropical plants on display in the greenhouses at Dorman Hall on Dec. 4, 2012. DelPrince recently published a textbook for college and university courses on interior plantscaping -- using green and flowering plants and trees in indoor commercial and residential spaces.

Plants can increase a person’s productivity, and a Mississippi State University floral design expert is smiling about his new textbook on using plants in interior spaces.

Jim DelPrince, a professor in MSU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, spent five years developing a textbook on “interiorscaping” -- using green and flowering plants and trees in indoor commercial and residential spaces.

“The textbook, Interior Plantscaping: Principles and Practices, is written from the standpoints of plant science, business and plants as a design element within the interior,” DelPrince said. “In the past, our method of teaching interior plantscaping focused on the production of plants in the greenhouse, with propagation, plant physiology, watering, fertilizing and light levels being the only topics. Today, we have a very different focus: on the client who ultimately purchases and uses these plants, and on related services that can be offered.”

DelPrince said students interested in an interiorscaping career need to understand plant science and solid design principles. This textbook was written with them in mind.

“There are plant science and horticulture programs at all of the land-grant universities, at other universities, at two-year institutions and even in high school agriculture programs, and this book integrates the learning areas of business, science and design in such a way that they all can use it,” he said.

DelPrince used his research skills and personal connections within the industry to bring practical information and inspirational success stories into the textbook.

“I included a chapter about value-added opportunities for floral and plant businesses -- holiday decorations, gifts for employee birthdays and retirements. An interiorscaping job doesn’t have to be a one-time installation and maintenance phase following up with watering, fertilizing and insect inspection. It can be the beginning of an important business relationship,” he said.

Unlike other books on the topic, DelPrince included chapters on permanent botanical plants and preserved plant materials, otherwise known as silk and dried flowers and plants.

“People who put together and design permanent shrubs and trees are floral artists themselves,” DelPrince said. “They’re replicating nature. But those permanent installations will still need care.”

Juliet Steiner, a product development manager for Cengage Learning, said she was excited to introduce this new book to the market.

“Jim was truly passionate about the project and dedicated to putting together a text that that was engaging as well as informative,” Steiner said. “We love that Jim wanted to involve his horticulture students in the project. Their contributions can be seen in many of the Green Tip boxes all throughout the text.”

Steiner said this new textbook is a blend of art and science.

“Interior Plantscaping is an exciting and unique new text because it blends the science of horticulture with the aesthetics of interior design while also providing practical information about running a successful business,” she said. “It is filled with beautiful color photos of plants and plant installations, and also has a valuable appendix listing all of the included interior plants with key features and photos.”

By formalizing his course notes and developing them into a textbook, DelPrince got to see something he had always dreamed of.

“I wanted to be able to open a textbook and see Mississippi State University on the title page,” he said. “Our floral management program is known all over the country, and administrators from several universities have come to our campus to visit our department.”

Keri Collins Lewis | MSU Ag Communications

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