Repotting cacti in small terracotta pot

Seven Items Every Gardener Needs

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Watering Can

You may think you can use a large cup to water your plants. The problem with this is that the stream of water the cup makes is too large, which waters the plant too quickly. The water will likely just go down the side of the pot and out through the drainage hole. This leaves the soil in the center dry. Especially for soil that is fully dry, it takes a little while for the soil to be able to absorb water. Watering slowly allows the soil to gradually accept water like a sponge. The best way to water slowly is with a watering can which has small holes.

Haws watering can on Amazon – $16


Spray Bottle

A spray bottle has multiple purposes in your garden. It is mainly used to water plants through the leaves which also increases humidity momentarily. This also dusts off leaves which is important for light absorption, and fending off disease. It is also needed to control pests, and deliver fertilizers. I use two bottles; one for plain water which sometimes has added fertilizer, and one for pest control.

Many homes have low humidity levels, so frequent spraying of leaves can help balance this out. Humidity loving plants need to be misted frequently. These are any kind of tropical plant (which are the most common houseplants), African violets, air plants, and occasionally succulents. Fruits, herbs, and veggies will like a mist occasionally and especially before a hot day. It’s not recommended to mist cacti or some succulents except if their roots have been damaged, or during dormancy if they look wrinkled from drought.  It’s better to mist during the morning, to mimic a morning dew. Even if your soil is damp enough, some plants might still like a light mist.

I like to create organic solutions for pest control. There are many natural pesticides, that can be made from common materials. Once the mixture is made the process of spraying the plant, will knock off and kill bugs. The pesticide is then washed off with plain water.

Glass spray bottle – $8 on Amazons


Thermometer / Hygrometer

Temperature is usually regulated in your home to be between 60°-80°F (15 ̊- 27 ̊C). This range is suitable for most common plants year-round. Some deciduous perennials, biennials, and annuals have strict vernalization requirements, meaning they will need exposure to low temperatures for a certain amount of time. Low temperatures can kill some warmer climate plants, especially ones near a drafty window. 45 ̊- 50 ̊F (7 ̊-10 ̊C) and below is generally dangerous, but varies depending on the species. A thermometer is important to keep near your plants to make sure the temperature is right.

The humidity needs of a plant go hand in hand with watering needs. Most homes are drier than desired because of temperature regulating systems and a lack of constant airflow. Humidity levels affect how frequent you will need to water and mist your plants. As temperatures increase, so does the ability for the air to hold moisture and become humid.

Thermometer / Hygrometer – $8.99 on Amazon


Garden trowel

You may think you can use a large spoon to transplant soil, however a garden trowel is much easier to use. The point directs soil into the pot better, creating less of a mess. It also will transport more soil than a spoon.

Garden Trowel – $6.98


Organic Fertilizer

Soil’s slowly lose their nutritional value over time, which means you should add fertilizer a couple months after repotting. An all-purpose organic fertilizer is a fine middle ground if you don’t want to buy many specialty fertilizers. Organic fertilizers contain the primary nutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium – represented by three numbers on the packaging) plus many other secondary and micronutrients. I like organic fertilizers because they produce healthier and more natural looking plants. Chemical fertilizers usually come in small bottles, with an eye-dropper, or droplet lid. Chemical fertilizers are very powerful in Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium but have no other nutrients and they destroy the longevity of soils which naturally fertilize the plant. They are also horrible for the environment. In America, the fertilizer runoff from farms are destroying ecosystems all the way down to the coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Organic fertilizers feed the soil ecosystem, making the soil stronger over time. This is my favorite all-purpose organic fertilizer. If you only have a few plants, this bag will last you years. It’s packed full of healthy things for your plant not present in chemical fertilizers. It is a blend of fish bone meal, feather meal, alfalfa meal, mined potassium sulfate, phosphate, seaweed extract, and PRO-BIOTIC seven champion strains of beneficial soil microbes plus Ecto and Endo Mycorrhizae. Add this to your soil every other month, and mix it gently to the top layer of soil. If you’re repotting: Mix this in with old soil, to replenish all of the lost nutrients. For the advanced people, this is great to make compost tea with.

Dr. Earth Organic Fertilizer 4lb bag – $12.60 on Amazon


High Quality Soil

A good soil is so important to the health of your plant. A higher quality soil means bigger and better growth, less need for frequent fertilization, and a better ability to hold water. A good soil is a lively ecosystem that feeds your plants. When shopping for soil, I always buy organic, but you should also look for ones made with earthworm castings, bat guano, fish/bone meals, rock dusts, and mycorrhizae. Many popular soil brands are devoid of these important kinds of nutrients. It is kind of a “get what you pay for” area of gardening products. If you can afford a better soil I would strongly suggest doing so. These higher quality soils are also generally created in a more eco-friendly way. If you can find one that uses coco-coir instead of peat moss, that is much better for the environment as well.

Happy Frog Organic Potting Soil 12 Quarts – $16.50 on Amazon


Bypass Shears

These are necessary for making clean cuts to your plants with thicker branches. Using a knife or regular scissors is clumsy and dangerous. You will likely own plants that don’t all have thin stems that can be pruned with kitchen scissors. The curved design captures the thicker stem gives it a nice clean cut. A cleaner cut will heal nicer over time. It’s good practice to rinse the shears in alcohol, or at least under water before making cuts, to not infect the plant.

Bypass Shears – $12.97 on Amazon


Want to learn the basics of indoor gardening? Check out these posts:

Everything You Need to Know About Water

Everything You Need to Know About Light

Everything You Need to Know About Soil

Everything You Need to Know About Fertilizer

Everything You Need to Know About Plant Pots

How to Repot Plants

How to Get Rid of Pests Naturally