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GardenSMART :: Tool and Gift Ideas for Your Indoor Gardener

Tool and Gift Ideas for Your Indoor Gardener

By Therese Ciesinski, GardenSMART

I don't know about you, but come December I am missing my garden and compensate by giving my indoor plants waaaay more attention than usual. During spring and summer, my houseplants get water, fertilizer, and a vacation outside on the deck, and that's about it. But when the days get dark around 4:30, I find myself wiping down leaves, sniping off dying foliage and looking for excuses to fuss over their green leaves.

So I appreciate any gardening helpers that either make my plants look better or make tending to them easier and neater. And with the exploding popularity of "indoor gardening" among millennials (what we baby boomers called growing houseplants), I suspect plenty of others do, too.

Now, these may not be the glitziest gifts – maybe with the exception of the Growhouse – but they are the kinds that the gardeners in your life might not splurge on themselves, and will thank you for when they use them. And in the unlikely event you don't have an indoor gardener to gift, perhaps one of these items can be a present to yourself.

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Brass Grow Anywhere Growhouse: To me, this is one of the most attractive indoor "greenhouses" out there (it's not completely enclosed, so technically it's a growhouse). One reason is that, thanks to technology, grow light bulbs don't need to be those big, ugly florescent tubes any more. This brass and glass house is big enough to nurture the plants you want to fuss over, but fits on a countertop. No assembly required. By Modern Sprout. 15.5" L x 6" W x 15.5" H, 10 pounds. $150, Food52.com

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If the full setup isn't needed or is too big, here's a versatile alternative, since it can be placed anywhere. Good looking, too. The Baltic Birch Growbar has an LED light with a built-in timer. No assembly required. By Modern Sprout. 19" L x 2" W x 0.75" H. $99, Food52.com

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Compact Tidy Tray: I have a big plastic potting tray that I use outside and love. I can dump a bag of potting mix in it, add some water and fill pots to my heart's content without the mix spilling everywhere. This tray is smaller, and a good size: 20" L x 19-1/2" W x 8-1/2" H for using inside and storing afterwards. Sure, you can just spread out newspaper – and while searching for this item, Amazon matched images and suggested kitty litter trays (not the worst idea!) – but at $14.95, this has storage and comes at a great price. Gardener's Supply Company, gardeners.com

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Stainless Steel Root Rake: I went looking for a good indoor plant tool set to recommend, but every one I found seemed, well, kind of cheesy, with scaled-down versions of outdoor trowels that looked too small and awkward to be useful. Then I remembered the tool I use: a Japanese root rake. Ten inches long, with tines on one end and a spatula on the other, it's easy to hold, and slips into tight places. This tool, a pair of snips and that spare tea- or tablespoon taking up space in your cutlery drawer (rather than a gnome-sized trowel) are really all you need. $15.95, Eastern Leaf, easternleaf.com

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Growstone Gnat Nix: An odd item to find under the Christmas tree, perhaps, but houseplant aficionados know why it's on the list. If you grow plants indoors long enough, fungus gnats are inevitable. The insects breed in and feed on fungus and organic matter in the soil. The larvae can chew roots and stunt growth, especially seedlings. They are harmless to people, and not the worst infestation that can hit your houseplants (I'm looking at you, scale), but they are a nuisance.

Made from 100% recycled glass, I like that this mix is pesticide-free and nontoxic. A ½" to ¾" layer on top of the soil keeps larvae from hatching and females from laying eggs. 2-liter bag, $13.95. Online though Amazon and Walmart.

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Indoor Watering Can: I have a Haws 2-pint copper watering can that is about 25 years old, and for its construction alone it was worth the $$$. I will never need another. It's sturdy. The balance is good. After all these years of "forgetting" to polish it, it has an attractive patina. I have one quibble, however: the tapering spout, about a ¼ inch around. Yes, it helps prevent spills because the stream is slow and I can monitor the amount of water percolating into the soil. But with 15+ houseplants, standing there while the water dribbles out becomes tedious.

So while I do recommend Haws watering cans for their craftsmanship and quality, an indoor watering can worth considering is Ikea's Bittergurka. It's 12 inches tall, made of powder-coated metal with a bamboo handle. The spout is a generous size and it holds more than four pints of water. It's a fraction of the price of a Haws: $12.99. And it's good looking enough to keep out on display.

 


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