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To be honest, you don’t really need any special equipment to take care of plants. It can make life a lot easier though especially if you’re after the rarer or more expensive plants
Before you go out and spend your life savings, I think a lot of this stuff is really nice to have but not necessary, especially for beginners. The only thing I think will really, truly be indispensable to you is the first item on the list.
So let’s crack on:
No surprises here.
This thing LITERALLY changed my life when it came to keeping plants alive.
CHANGED MY LIFE.
You see, I don’t like sticking my finger into soil. I don’t mind doing it if I’m officially Watering My Plants, but if I’m about to leave for work and I notice someone looks a bit sad, I don’t want to get my finger dirty.
Cue moisture probe.
It’s also nice to have a few concrete rules for when to water:
- Water Alocasia, Calathea, ferns and peace lilies at 3
- Philodendron and Syngonium 2/3
- Pothos at 2
- Cacti and succulents at 1
I don’t like guesswork.
I’m not saying that everyone agrees with my rules, just that they work for me.
Mine has made back the money I paid for it (£7.99) many times over in the plants that it’s saved from being under and overwatered.
Also doubles up as an instrument to loosen the soil and help water absorption.
2 – Watering vessel
A watering can would be nice, but I’m all about not buying stuff, so I use an old teapot. I invite you to do the same.
You could use a measuring jug, a cup, WHATEVER. Or ask Santa for a sexy copper indoor watering can, but tell him not to get it from TK Maxx, because I got one from there and it leaked.
I got some nice glass ones that I use for misting (filled with plain tap water), but you can repurpose any old spray bottle. I don’t think misting does anything, humidity-wise, but sometimes it’s fun, and can blast a bit of dust off.
It’s worth having another one to use for cleaning leaves – add a drop of neem oil to some warm water and spray it onto the leaves of your plant before wiping them with a cloth. You’ve cleaned the leaves, polished them, and given them a bit of protection from pests. Go you.
If you don’t have the money to spend on a humidifier and you have a dry house, I’d advise that you stay away from plants that need a humidifier until you have the funds.
There’s nothing worse than spotting crispy tips and knowing that there’s not really much you can do about it. Pebble trays and misting aren’t really a long-term solution for those of you that live in a super dry environment.
Stick to cacti, succulents, and pothos – plants that either thrive in dry conditions or don’t mind them.
If you don’t mind the odd crispy tip then just get one of those cheap Amazon humidifiers. If you have the money, splash out on a fancy, big-tanked, warm/cold mist powerhouse.
Not essential, but it’s easier to suck up excess water than it is to tip it out. I use mine more frequently than I thought I would.
Sure, the bath’s great, but sometimes other people won’t want to share the bath with an aloe vera. I favour those big, flexible, plastic buckets that builders use OR something like a pet litter tray or an oil tray.
You can leave this outside (if you can) as a rudimentary rainwater catcher.
7 – Pots
Terracotta pots are cheap, and great for people who over water, since the water can evaporate through the clay. Not many plants will actively resent being in terracotta, with exceptions being those with tiny clinging roots like hoya. And plenty of people report hoya being fine in terracotta.
Also, Calathea and ferns need to be checked more often in terracotta because they can dry out, but I’ve had both in terracotta and they’ve been absolutely fine.
And I’m NOT an overwaterer.
If anything, I’m a neglecter.
I use saucers to go under small pots, but get big pasta bowls for my big pots to stand in, because it makes it so easy to bottom water them, and if I ever decide I don’t like the way it looks I can use them as pasta dishes.
If you’re looking for pretty pots with drainage holes, I really like this Amazon shop. They’re really well priced too.
One area I wouldn’t scrimp on is self-watering pots – Lechuza pots are a bit pricier than other brands (not significantly though) but are definitely worth the extra few quid.
8 – Potting medium
If you’re just starting out, and are likely to go to a garden centre and get EVERYTHING in sight, I’d recommend stocking up on:
Those are the basics. If you want a more comprehensive list, then get:
- Sphagnum moss – not great for the environment, so I try to avoid. Great for propagating though.
You can get all of this stuff from Amazon.
9 – Scissors
I just use kitchen scissors to chop off dead leaves and prune my plants. I don’t even have a dedicated pair, though I definitely should.
You should sterilise them before use, but again do as I say, not as I do.
I like to use a liquid seaweed fertiliser because it’s natural and vegan and all that good stuff, but if you just want to get an all-round 5-5-5 from the garden centre then do that.
I do plan on getting some specific orchid feed in the spring, but only because old ladies at work keep telling me I must – I don’t know if I actually need it.
I also buy coloured lolly (popsicle) sticks. I assign a colour to a fertiliser frequency and it help me organise my fertilisation schedule. Plants that need fertilising monthly get a red stick etc.
As I said, I don’t think you need any of these things, but they’re often a great help to have.
If I were to suggest you get one thing off the list, get the moisture meter to save a life.