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Useful Tools for Indoor Gardening

You’ve decided you’re into this houseplant journey for the long haul. You love your plants, and you want to see them thrive. So you may be tempted to go out and buy all sorts of tools. After all, your plants deserve the best, if only to coax them into stopping that dramatic wilting. There are many gadgets that you can use for your urban jungle, but our recommendation is to start with the basics and tweak your collection along the way.


Here are the most useful tools for indoor gardening, and a few things to take into consideration before you make a purchase.



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A pair of gardening gloves

Why you need it

If we were to recommend one single gear for houseplant lovers, this would be it. Sure, repotting your houseplants is not as intensive as gardening, but potting soil still has a way of getting under your fingernails. Potting mixes often contain organic matter such as tree bark, pumice, and sand. A pair of gardening gloves is an easy and cheap way to protect your skin from scratches.


What you should look for

Choose gardening gloves that are made out of durable and sustainable fabric. You could pick a pair of gloves just based on a cute pattern (and we’ve seen some pretty cute ones online), but gloves will last longer if you invest in a quality pair. And you should know that fabric gloves can be thrown in the washer, provided you rinse the dirt off in the sink beforehand.



A hand trowel

Why you need it

Let’s call a spade a spade! You can’t call yourself a houseplant hobbyist and still be digging with your fingers when you’re repotting your plants. A trowel is useful for loosening rootbound houseplants from pots, mixing potting soil, and filling pots with potting mix.


What you should look for

Some garden supply stores call it a hand shovel, while others call it a hand spade.

If you’re looking for quality, avoid plastic gardening tools, even if it’s hard plastic. A durable and rust-resistant trowel will have an ergonomic wood handle and a stainless steel or carbon steel blade. Again, wash it after every use, and it will last a long time.


Bonus tip: If you also have a garden, you might be tempted to use your outdoor trowels for your houseplants. Only do this if you’re confident that you have cleaned them well enough to prevent the transmission of disease from your outdoor plants to your indoor plants.



A pair of shears or micro-snips

Why you need them

All houseplants need pruning - whether you’re snipping off leaves, flowers, or entire stems. You may need to prune in order to remove damaged foliage, prevent the spread of infestation, encourage a more balanced growth, or even just to propagate and expand your plant collection.


You may be wondering what’s wrong with using kitchen scissors to prune your plant. That is an option, as long as you’re being extra careful and don’t use the same pair of scissors for anything else. That’s because, during pruning, some houseplants may release sap that’s an irritant and may even be poisonous when ingested. Now that’s something you really don’t want anywhere near your kitchen scissors, right?


While we’re at it, here’s our gentle reminder that you should always wear gloves when you prune your houseplants and always wash your hands thoroughly once you’re done with this job.


What you should look for

Micro-snips are better for small plants because they’re easier to wield and don’t take up a lot of space. If you have large plants (such as a fiddle leaf fig tree), you will probably need to go for something more heavy-duty, such as gardening shears or pruning scissors.


The handle and the blades should be sterilized with rubbing alcohol before moving from one houseplant to another, in order to prevent cross-contamination.



A Hori Hori knife

Why you need it

A what now? A Hori Hori is a Japanese garden knife. The name is roughly translated as “dig dig” as “hori” is the word for “ditch” or “moat” in Japanese. The double-sided blade is shovel-shaped, so the knife becomes a multifunctional tool for both outdoor and indoor use.


Although this tool is generally more useful in an outdoor garden, you’ll need it indoors too if you’re growing hardy and fibrous houseplants that must be divided with a clean cut. So if you’re growing Snake Plants, Scheffleras, Begonias, or Peace lilies, a Hori Hori knife is a very useful tool to have handy.


What you should look for

Look for knives made in Japan out of genuine Japanese stainless steel. A genuine Hori Hori knife will have inch markings on the blade to help you plant at the just the right depth. This is a very sharp tool, so be very careful when you use the Hori Hori and store it out of the reach of children.



A moisture meter

Why you need it

Around these parts, we write a lot about best practices to make sure you’re watering your houseplants properly. And we know that houseplants are very susceptible to problems caused by overwatering - with root rot being one of the main causes of unhappy plants.


But the truth is that it’s hard to give recommendations because every household environment is different in terms of light, temperature, moisture, drafts, and even the potting soil available.


That’s why the best way to gauge how often your houseplants need water is by using a moisture meter. It’s a relatively affordable tool that you can reuse over and over again until you learn what your plants like in different seasons and under various conditions.


A moisture meter is especially helpful during the fall and winter months when plant parents tend to overwater their plants.


What you should look for

You can buy a simple moisture meter from any big box store. But if you’re really committed to keeping healthy houseplants, look for a 3-in-1 combo, which also measures the intensity of the light around your plant and the PH-level of the soil.


There’s no need to go out and buy everything the second you acquire your first houseplant. But don’t wait too long either - choosing the right tool will make life easier in the long run, and all of the tools we recommended above are very affordable!


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