Let’s face it. Who hasn’t felt a twinge of envy over someone’s lush houseplants? We all want our plants to look full and vibrant. However, sometimes, especially if you’re a new plant parent, you might not know where to start. That’s why I’ve laid out 11 tools & supplies for easy houseplant care.
Although it may seem daunting, the truth is, having happy houseplants is easier to achieve than you think. With these simple tools, a willingness to get your hands a little dirty, and a little patience, you’ll be starting your planting adventures off on the right foot.
Make It Simple
Before we get started on our tools & supplies, let’s go over a few things to consider.
First, the last thing a new plant parent needs is a finicky plant. So, choose a plant that has a reputation as an easy keeper, such as a snake plant or rubber plant. If you’re interested in other easy houseplants check out my post on the subject.
Secondly, in addition to starting with an easy plant, it’s a good idea to start small. Take a look at your space, your lighting, and your time availability. Plants don’t have to be complicated, but all plants need at least a little looking after.
In other words, don’t take on more plants than you can manage. At least when starting out. Otherwise, they will suffer and you will get discouraged.
For myself, over the years, my plant numbers (and types) have reflected my various living situations. Meaning, that I’ve ranged from an apartment with a couple of indoor plants to a farm with multiple houseplants, large vegetable gardens, and numerous flower beds. At present, I have primarily indoor plants, but I plan to expand into some container gardening.
Just like with the above, when talking about tools and supplies for easy houseplant care, simplicity is once again the theme. You don’t need an elaborate system, or to break the bank to keep your plants happy. To help with that, wherever possible, I’ve included tips to help curb costs.
So, with all of this in mind, let’s get down to the 11 tools and supplies for easy houseplant care!
11 Tools & Supplies for Easy Houseplant Care
1. Plant Pots
At some point in time, all houseplants will need to be re-potted. This can be immediately upon bringing the plant home, or when your baby has outgrown its current habitat.
When choosing a pot, it’s preferable to pick one with drainage holes. This will help reduce overwatering issues – a common concern for a houseplant beginner.
Tip – though some pots come with their own saucers that fit underneath to catch the excess water, others don’t. So, keep a few extra saucers handy for that cute saucer-less pot you bought because you just couldn’t resist. Most gardening centers will have stand-alone saucers, usually in various colors or just clear.
Now, you might be thinking what if the pot you’re using doesn’t have drainage holes. In this case, it’s best to keep the plant in the grower’s pot it came in, or another pot with drainage that will fit inside the no drainage pot.
A decorative pot used in this manner is called a cachepot.
Tip – when watering, you can just remove the inner pot and let any excess water drain into a sink before putting the plant back into its cachepot. This will help reduce the chance of your plant’s roots becoming waterlogged.
Although it’s preferable to use your decorative, no drainage pot as a cachepot, sometimes that’s not possible. In this case, you can place a layer of pebbles along the bottom of the pot to create drainage. However, this is not ideal and you will need to watch your watering carefully to ensure you’re not overwatering. Layering pebbles should not be done with pots that have drainage holes.
Money Saving Tip: Re-purpose an old plate for your saucer.
2. Potting Soil
If you have a pot, you’ll need some potting soil. There are numerous types of bagged soils, depending on your planting needs. In general, most plants will do fine with an all-purpose container soil.
However, if you’re looking to plant a succulent, or something a little more delicate, like an orchid, then you’ll want to look for a soil suited for that type of plant.
Soils also come in various sized bags. When choosing your soil, make sure to pick a bag size that will meet your planting needs.
Too, soils can degrade over time, and although you can still use it, it might not provide the same nutrients as when fresh. Check to see if the bag has a best before date.
Although all bagged soils start out with nutrients the plant needs, those nutrients deplete over time. And just like humans, plants need nutrients to stay healthy.
A quick stroll through a garden center will show you a myriad of fertilizer choices. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, especially for the plant novice. So, a good place to start is with a general, all-purpose fertilizer, that has fairly equal numbers.
Just like with soils, there are fertilizers specific to certain types of plants. So, for example, if you’re tending to succulents, you might want to look for a cactus or succulent fertilizer. If you’re tending to an orchid, look for an orchid fertilizer.
Money Saving Tip: Look no further than your kitchen for some budget friendly solutions. Crushed clean eggshells or chopped banana peels can be worked into the soil for an easy, natural fertilizer. However, be aware, using things like peels can attract pests like fruit flies. So, before diving in, do some research on the pros and cons of using food sources. If you’d like to learn of a few more fertilizer options, then check out this article by Quick And Dirty Tips.
4. Hand Fork
You’ll want to have a hand fork handy (no pun intended!) to work that fertilizer into your soil.
A hand fork features three or more prongs and is used to aerate the soil and distribute nutrients properly. In addition, a fork can aid with planting and transplanting. Look for one with a comfortable grip and sturdy tines.
Money Saving Tip: An old kitchen fork can serve the same function as a gardening fork. It’s especially helpful for those tiny planters. This is a good option for the new plant owner. However, as your plant grows, or your collection expands, you’ll want to upgrade to a hand fork.
A well-made set of pruners is an essential tool. You’ll use pruners to snip stems, leaves, and unwanted growth.
It’s very important your pruners are kept clean and sharp. By using poor quality or dull pruners, you risk crushing or tearing stems when snipping off the foliage. This leaves the plant open to bug infestations or plant disease.
Money Saving Tip: Start with a pair of good, sharp scissors. This is one area, though, I would recommend you look to purchasing pruners sooner rather than later.
6. Indoor Watering Can
Watering cans come in various sizes and designs, and personal preference will come into play here, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
A watering can that works great outdoors may be too big and cumbersome for your indoor needs, especially if your plant collection is not large.
For indoors, you’ll want one that is lightweight and has a long spout that can easily reach within the plant to the soil. Also, the can should be easy to fill and clean.
Money Saving Tip: Re-purpose an old teapot to be your new watering can.
Indoor air can become dry – especially in winter – and many indoor plants do best in humid conditions. Look for a mister that offers a fine, gentle spray.
Money Saving Tip: Re-purpose an old spray bottle. Just make sure you have cleaned the bottle out thoroughly and the nozzle offers the type of spray needed for misting.
A trowel is like a mini shovel. It’s very handy when you’re wanting to re-pot your plant or transfer soil from your bag to your pot.
As with watering cans, trowels can come in different shapes and sizes. What you choose will depend on your planting needs. For your houseplants, pick one that fits comfortably in your hand and is made for pots.
Money Saving Tip: If you’re on a tight budget, you can re-purpose an old serving spoon; however, you won’t have the same ease and comfort as you will with a good trowel.
9. Moisture Meter
One of the biggest reasons plants fail to flourish is due to watering issues, particularly overwatering. Often times, the top of the soil is dry, leading you to believe the plant needs water. However, in reality, dig a few inches down and the soil is still moist.
Dry topsoil can be very misleading, and this is where a moisture meter plays a critical role. A moisture meter can help monitor your soil and let you know whether or not it’s time to give Junior a drink.
Money Saving Tip: Re-purpose an old butter knife to test your soil. Stick the knife down towards the bottom of the pot, halfway between the plant and the edge of the pot. If the knife comes out clean, then the soil is dry. If it comes out with bits of soil stuck to it, then it’s moist.
10. Plant Stand
Tall ones, short ones, round ones, square ones – you name the shape, and you’ll likely find a plant stand to accommodate it. Although a stand is not a “necessity”, plant stands can certainly come in handy, allowing you to aesthetically present your plant.
Have multiple plants? Tiered stands are a great way to display several plants while making more efficient use of your space.
If you have a heavy pot, think about using a plant caddy. The wheels make moving heavy pots a snap. And if you have visions of your plant unintentionally sailing across the floor, choose one with locking wheels.
Money Saving Tip: Re-purpose an old table, or a shelf, bookshelf, mantle, bench. Really, the possibilities here are endless.
11. Plant Stakes & Ties
If your plant is a climbing vine or will grow to any height, then at some point you’ll likely need to provide your plant with support. When it comes to stakes, there are a number of different styles – bamboo, plastic, wood. It’s the same with plant ties. In the end, a lot of the decision will come down to personal preference.
Tip – with a plant stake, make sure the stake is strong enough to offer the plant the support it needs. Additionally, you’ll want the stake tall enough to accommodate the plant as it grows.
As for ties, please do not use wire or anything abrasive, which can be damaging to the plant stem. Personally, I usually use vinyl ties. I find them fairly easy to work with, reusable, and soft on the plants.
Money Saving Tip: If you have a climbing plant, such as an ivy, place it near a window, tap small nails into the side of the window frame, and let the vine climb up and around the window, using the nails as support.
Whether you’re just starting out (or consider yourself a brown thumb), in truth plant care doesn’t have to be difficult. Carefully consider your plant choices. Have some patience with yourself and your plant. And keep in mind these 11 handy tools and supplies for easy houseplant care. Do this and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful plant parent!
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And remember to always have fun when discovering your green thumb!