Equipment for the home gardener

Garden centres stock a wide range of equipment for the home gardener. A few items are essential, others are convenient and some are simply gadgets. Before buying, ask yourself whether the item is really necessary.

  • Watering cans Watering cans come in various sizes and materials. Choose a reasonable sized one, with a long, thin spout that lets you reach your plants and direct the flow of water. A fine rose fitting is helpful for light watering.
  • Misters or atomizers are essential for plants that need a moist atmosphere. Choose one that produces a fine spray, not large drops of water. If you use spray insecticides, keep another mister labelled for the purpose.
  • Plastic and clay pots come in man sizes. Plastic pots are lightweight and less expensive, but some people prefer the old-fashioned look of clay pots. Keep several in store.
  • Plastic saucers prevent excess water staining furniture, carpets and floors. Glazed clay saucers are waterproof, but unglazed ones may leak.
  • Peat pots are useful for propagation, as young plants can be potted on without disturbing the roots. Some peat pots are compressed into pellets, which expand when soaked and provide compost and container in one.
  • Fertilizers are essential for most long-term house plants. General fertilizers are sold in concentrated liquid form or as plant food spikes, which slowly release nutrients.image
  • Cutting tools include garden secateurs, for cutting woody stems, and sharp plant scissors, for softer stems and for deadheading.
  • Hand forks and trowels can be the ordinary, garden size or miniature, for small house plants. Buy the best you can afford.
  • Plant supports range from moss poles, for plants with aerial roots, to old-fashioned bamboo canes, green-dyed split canes and plastic trellises.
  • Plant ties can be of the traditional raffia, green-dyed garden twine, or more modern plastic- or paper-wrapped wire, either in short lengths or on a long reel, and plastic self-closing rings.
  • Polythene buckets are useful for mixing special composts in.
  • Garden or other protective gloves are sensible for handling chemicals or repotting prickly house plants.
  • Leaf shine is not essential but helps broad-leaved foliage plants, like the Swiss Cheese Plant, look their best. Measuring equipment is not necessary but can be helpful. There are compost plant-labelsmoisture meters, acidity meters and thermometers.
  • Plant labels are invaluable if you are raising several different types of plant from seed.
  • Self-watering wick waters single plants while you’re on holiday. The wick is sunk in compost and it sucks up water from a jar.
  • Having the right equipment makes caring for house plants easy, so they stay healthy and always look their best. Here we tell you about all the equipment you’ll need.

Alternatives

Many ordinary household items make excellent tools, and you probably already have them to hand. Some of the many ordinary household items that come in useful when caring for plants include scissors, kitchen utensils and even empty soda bottles.

  • A pair of sharp household scissors will cut all but the woodiest stems.
  • Yoghurt cartons, thoroughly washed after use and pierced for drainage, make ideal plant propagating pots.
  • A sharp pencil can be used as a dibber, to make a hole for inserting seedlings and cuttings into compost.
  • Old table forks and spoons from the kitchen are perfect for stirring up caked potting compost or clearing off surface moss from small house plants.
  • Aluminium freezer cartons, pierced for drainage, make adequate trays for rooting cuttings or germinating seeds.
  • Food bag ties can be used to tie climbing plant stems to supports.
  • Glass jars make mini-propagators.

D-I-Y propagatorD-I-Y propagator

Clear plastic soft-drink bottles with round, blow-moulded bottoms can easily be transformed into useful propagators, at virtually no cost. Hold an empty bottle, right-way-up, over a cooker hob at its lowest setting. Turn to heat it evenly, until the glue holding the flat, opaque plastic base to the bottle is softened. Using your fingers or knife, lever off the base and allow to cool. Meanwhile, using a saw, make a cut across the narrow top end of the bottle at slightly less than its full width, then cut the top off with scissors. Invert the bottle on to the base, once it is filled with suitable compost and cuttings or seeds.

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