Best indoor gardening supplies and tools

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With the colder months upon us, you may have considered putting more effort into your indoor garden – or starting one if you have not had it before. To create the best one possible, you’ll need the best indoor gardening supplies! 

In this article, I’ll go over types of gardening equipment and provide links to example products.

Essential Gardening Equipment

Containers

For indoor gardening, containers are a must have. Make sure yours are wide and deep enough for whatever you want to grow.

Also, make sure they have holes in the bottom for drainage, and try to find containers with their own water collection saucers.

I love these hand-painted Mexican ceramic containers, especially since they look like animals. With their bright colors and imaginative designs, they’d make great holiday gifts: 

Enchanted Talavera Mexican Pottery Creature
  • Talavera Mexican pottery ceramic Beta Fish flower pots. Choose from our Small (11"L x 7"H) or Large (18"L x 13"H)
  • USES: Our pots are weather resistant and work both indoors and outdoors. The perfect showcase to your herbs, plants,...
  • Enchanted Talavera pottery pieces are all hand painted one at a time by our artisans so your item may have slight design...
Talavera Elephant Michoacana Container Multi
  • Fired at high temperatures and glazed
  • Made in Mexico
  • Great for the home or garden
Enchanted Talavera Mexican Sculpture Butterfly
  • Extra Large Talavera Mexican Ceramic Pottery Flower Pot Plant Pot 14" x 12" x 15"
  • Plenty of space for your plants, flowers, herbs, or small vegetables. Perfect for use in your garden, patio, or porch...
  • Enchanted Talavera pottery pieces are all hand painted one at a time by our artisans so your item may have slight design...

Container Saucers

Without a saucer, the water you pour into a container will seep through its drainage holes and make a mess. Choose a saucer that’s larger than the base of your container, so the water will have room to settle around it.

These saucers by Austin Planter come in several colors:

Sale
Austin Container Saucers Clear Polypropylene
  • Saucer for flower pots and planters, plastic
  • Flower por drip pan, planter drainage saucer
  • Indoor planter saucer, heavy duty, durable
Austin Container Polypropylene Outdoor Drainage
  • Saucer for flower pots and planters, plastic, heavy duty
  • American made planter saucer, Indoor planter saucer
  • Patio plant saucer, plant drainage saucer
Austin Saucer Granite Colored Polypropylene
  • Flower pot saucer, planter drainage saucer
  • Heavy duty flower por drip pan, indoor planter saucer
  • Patio plant saucer, planter saucer

Potting Mix

Good potting mix is essential for an indoor garden. You shouldn’t use unamended garden soil in containers — it’s poorly aerated and doesn’t drain well. It may also contain pests or harmful microbes. 

You can amend garden soil for containers by mixing in ingredients like peat moss, perlite, and/or coarse builder’s sand. You can also make a soilless potting mix from scratch. 

Keep in mind that different plants prefer different types of potting mix. For example, Savvy Gardening states that potted trees thrive in mixes high in pine bark or coarse sand.

Here are some ingredients for making your own potting mix:

Hoffman 16504 Horticultural Perlite Quarts
  • Horticultural perlite
  • Lightweight soil conditioner, loosens clay soil, reduces caking, improves drainage and aeration
  • Blend with peat moss and perlite for custom soilless mix

Seeds/Starter Plants

Whether you should plant seeds, starter plants, or cuttings depends on what you want to grow. Many indoor herb crops, such as basil and cilantro, are easily grown from seeds. Others, such as rosemary, are easier to grow from cuttings.

Here are some seeds and starter plants to get your garden going:

Organic Herb Seeds Heirloom Varieties
  • AROMATIC CULINARY COLLECTION - Includes sweet basil, slow bolt cilantro, bright fennel, Italian flat leaf parsley, spicy...
  • EASY GROW – FAST SPROUTS, HIGHEST GERMINATION RATE: Don’t plant disappointment! We send ONLY SUPER HEARTY SEEDS...
  • CERTIFIED ORGANIC - Don't be fooled by cheap seeds promoting themselves as "non-GMO" but grown in who knows what, this...
Organic Grass Wheatgrass Back Roots
  • USDA CERTIFIED ORGANIC AND NON-GMO: This 2lb bag of wheatgrass seeds for planting is organic and not treated with...
  • CATS LOVE IT: The wheatgrass plant is high in fiber and protein, which aids in digestion and naturally reduces...
  • QUICK AND EASY: Simply soak cat grass seeds, water once per day, and you'll have wheatgrass in just 5-7 days, which...
Live Rosemary Sage Plant Container
  • Include organic grown live Rosemary and Sage herb plants in 4 inch containers.
  • Sage is a hardy garden plant and often used in cooking.
  • Rosemary is a hardy perennial herb plant that is great as a culinary herb.

Seed Starting Trays

You can plant seeds directly in pots or start them in trays. The best option depends on what you’re trying to grow. Cilantro, for example, should be directly sown because it doesn’t transplant well

For plants that transplant well, starting them in trays lets you choose the healthiest-looking seedlings to grow. Microgreens are also good to plant in trays because you harvest them as seedlings.

Here are some trays:

Sale
Growing garden seeds Microgreens Wheatgrass
  • Durable Plastic - No Drain Holes
  • Top Dimensions are: Length 21 1/4 in, Width 11in, Depth 2 1/2 in
  • Stay Organized with color trays

No products found - check back later!

Fertilizer/Compost

Some plants, such as many cacti, thrive with practically no help. Others, such as squash, are more nutrient-hungry. For these, you can use inorganic fertilizer, organic fertilizer, compost, or other natural soil amendments. I will explain these in a later section.

Below are two organic plant foods and a tumbler for making your own compost:

GS Plant Foods Fertilizer Concentrate
  • OMRI ​ORGANIC LISTED SEAWEED & KELP FERTILIZER: Liquid Kelp is a natural plant food that provides a range of benefits...
  • ONE OF NATURE’S ‘MIRACLE’ PLANT FOODS: Made from the finest seaweed plant Ascophyllum Nodosum, this is one of...
  • OPTIMAL PLANT GROWTH & HEALTH AT HOME OR COMMERCIALLY: Used in low concentrations, liquid seaweed acts as an efficacious...

Hand Trowel

Though you can dig through potting mix with your hands, it’s less messy to use a hand trowel. A hand trowel is a shovel-like indoor gardening tool for tasks such as digging small holes, transplanting starter plants, and uprooting weeds.

From personal experience, I can say this: if you’ll ever use your hand trowel outdoors, invest in a sturdy one. Cheaper ones may bend out of shape if you use them in hard soil.

Here are some hand trowels:

Tierra Garden 31 3000 Forged Trowel
  • QUALITY CONSTRUCTION – This DeWit Forged Hand Trowel is an elevated take on the standard garden trowel, constructed...
  • LIFETIME DURABILITY – Crafted from hardened boron steel that has been heat-treated for strength, the DeWit Forged Hand...
  • SUSTAINABLE – With our eco-friendly tools, know that you are caring for your plants and for the planet. Our DeWit...
Hoss Tools Heavy Duty Shovel Gardening
  • BUILT TO LAST A LIFETIME - Handle sits securely in high-carbon steel socket that is precision-welded and riveted.
  • GREAT FOR SMALL-SCALE GARDENING - Use for turning soils, planting transplants or potted plants, and incorporating...
  • HIGH-QUALITY DESIGN - Made with a seasoned, birch handle and a high-carbon steel blade that is guaranteed to withstand...

Plant Markers

If you forget which plants are in which containers, you may give them the wrong care. Additionally, The Peterborough & Area Master Gardeners argue that plant labels:

  • Help you reorder plants for next year
  • Help you keep track of which plants thrive and which ones don’t
  • Prevent you from accidentally planting something where you’ve already planted something
  • Help you sell plants by knowing exactly which varieties they are

Keep track of what you’re growing with plant markers like these:

FirTree Brand Markers Vegetable Reclaimed
  • Set of eight markers measure 1.5" X 9" each and are permanently etched with easy-to-read plant names that will not wash...
  • Reclaimed roofing slates are aged to a waterproof, weather resistant finish. no rusting from metal parts or rotting from...
  • Handcrafted in the USA, packaged for gift giving and backed by Fir Tree's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Herb Garden Markers Gardener Birchwood
  • Set of 9 markers measure 2.75" X 4" each and are permanently etched with easy-to-read herb names.
  • Handcrafted in the USA. Made of Birchwood
  • Offered in a set of 9 of the most popular herb names: Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary, Mint, Sage, Thyme, Dill,...
YOUniversal
  • MADE IN THE USA - 15 pack of 11.5" tall plant tags. These are manufactured with galvanized steel wires and zinc...
  • WATERPROOF - Easily label your favorite plants, vegetables, flowers, trees and herbs in your garden or yard with these...
  • CUSTOMIZABLE - Each zinc marker provides a writable surface to create your own custom nameplate. These are weatherproof...

Grow Light

Different plants have different light requirements. A south-facing window is fine for many plants, as are east and west-facing windows for plants that need less light. However, some may need supplemental lighting to thrive, especially during cold months when the days are shorter and the sunlight is less direct. 

These grow lights will help you grow sunshine-hungry plants indoors year-round:

COB
  • 【REAL FULL SPECTRUM, 3500K WHITE COB LED】This COB grow light bulb is made of 3500K White COB LED, real full spectrum...
  • 【SMALL But POWERFUL】With a 70 degree reflector, this LED grow light bulb can produce a high PAR/PPFD output, it can...
  • 【SAVE MORE ENERGY & YOUR MONEY】This new version grow light bulb with E26 base can replace the 300watts HPS grow lamp...
Black
  • BEST LED GROW LIGHTS MADE IN USA BY INDUSTRY LEADERS: Black Dog LED produces the most powerful LED grow lights with the...
  • COMPACT AND POWERFUL: High light intensity and energetic spectrum, crucial for canopy penetration to nourish lower...
  • INCREDIBLE GROW RESULTS: The PhytoMAX-2 200 LED grow lights offer incredible coverage and results with very low...
NextLight
  • 5’ x 5’ Flower or 7' x 7’ Veg
  • 650-watt draw (replaces 1000 watt DE HPS)
  • Full-Spectrum White Diodes, 100,000-hour lifetime

Pruning Shears

If you’ll need to prune or take cuttings from established plants, pruning shears are one of the best gardening tools to invest in. GardenACCS explains that these short-handled tools can cut stems or branches that are about an inch wide. They’re also spring-loaded, allowing them to reopen automatically after a cut.

If you’ll be using your pruning shears on wood, it’s especially important to get a sharp pair. Here are a few:

Samurai
  • Made in Japan.
  • Model: Samurai KS-4T
  • Teflon Coated Blades.

“Nice To Have” Indoor Garden Tools And Equipment

Watering Can

Though you can water plants with a jug or bottle, it’s nicer to have a watering can. 

When pouring water from a regular container, you have to tilt it just right to control how the water flows. Otherwise, it may spill down the outer edges of the container. A long spout directs water into a narrow stream, improving aim and preventing spills.

Here are some watering cans: Find them on our Black Friday Deals page.

Organizer

An organizer helps you keep gardening equipment in one place. And unlike a plain cabinet shelf, many organizers come with things such as hooks to hang things on, compartments for small accessories, and holes for tool handles.

Though not explicitly for gardening, these products provide attractive ways to store your gardening equipment: Find them on our Black Friday Deals page.

Gardening Platforms And Towers

While you can grow plants on tables and window sills, specialized growing platforms or towers come with different advantages.

For example, the first one below lets you have a raised bed garden indoors. The second option has its own LED grow lights, and the third lets you grow many plants in little space:

  1. Foreman Raised Garden Bed Planter Box Kit
  2. Gardener’s Supply Company LED Grow Light Stand, Heavy Duty 3-Tier with Plant Trays
  3. Garden Tower 2

Plant Caddies

When spring arrives, you may want to move your plants outdoors. For heavy planters, this may prove difficult. If only they were on wheels! A solution is to get caddies, which come in different shapes and sizes suitable for different containers. Don’t risk hurting your back when you can get one of these: Find them on our Black Friday Deals page.

Seed Warming Mat

If you want your seeds to germinate quickly and evenly, a heat mat can help. This is especially true during months too chilly for plants such as peppers, which germinate best in soil temperatures between 70F and 95F (21.1C and 35C).

*Note: If your indoor garden tends to be chilly, you may want to get a heat lamp to keep certain plants warm.

Here are some heat mats: Find them on our Black Friday Deals page.

Misting Spray Bottle

While not essential, misting spray bottles are useful. For example, spraying potting mix with a gentle mist gives small seeds the moisture they need to germinate without washing them out of place. Spray bottles are also great for applying topical pest repellent to leaves. 

Here are a few: Find them on our Black Friday Deals page.

Plant Stands/Shelves

No matter what your living space looks like, there’s probably a plant stand that would fit in it. For tiny spaces, there are stands that fit into corners or have multiple shelves. For those on a budget, there are also simple stands that can hold a pot each. There are even plant holders you can hang from the ceiling!

Here are some stands/shelves: Find them on our Black Friday Deals page.

Buying And Use Guide

How To Choose The Best Grow Light

Get A Real One

As I’ve written about here, you can use regular light bulbs as grow lights. But if you’re trying to grow plants with high or specific light requirements, it’s best to get a real grow light. Regular light bulbs and fixtures don’t generally come with gardening-related specifications, forcing you to figure them out yourself or hope that a light will work.

Go With LEDs

Out of incandescent, fluorescent, and LED grow lights, the latter is the most energy and heat efficient. According to Lamps Plus, they also offer a great color spectrum range.

Choose Between Getting A Fixture Or Some Bulbs

It’s cheaper and more convenient to buy grow light bulbs, as opposed to a new fixture. However, grow light fixtures can provide light for more plants and spread it evenly. Lamps Plus also says they tend to offer better light spectrum ranges than bulbs. 

Know These Terms

Epic Gardening provides an in-depth overview of what to look for in a grow light, most of which I’ll paraphrase below:

You need to understand these terms:

PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation)

PAR refers to the wavelengths of light from 400 to 700 nm, which plants use for photosynthesis. It does not measure the amount of light, but is used to determine its quality.

PPF (Photosynthetic Photon Flux)

PPF is a measurement of how many micromoles of PAR a light emits per second. 

PPFD (Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density)

Unlike PPF, PPFD is used to determine how much light actually reaches your plants. Specifically, Epic Gardening defines it as: “The amount of photosynthetically active photons that actually fall on a given surface per second.” It’s measured in micromoles per square meter per second.

They caution that because PPFD only focuses on one spot at a time, you should find the average PPFD for a larger area. A reading for one spot may not accurately represent others. For this reason, sellers should provide charts like the one at 4:18. If they name a single PPFD reading, be skeptical.

Photon Efficacy 

Photon efficacy, which is measured in micromoles per joule, determines how efficiently a light converts electrical energy into PAR photons. The higher the number is, the better.

Epic Gardening explains that many people call their grow lights energy efficient when they actually have low photon efficacy. They also explain that red diodes have the highest photon efficacy, followed by blue ones. 

Calculate How Much Of Its Capacity Each Diode Uses

Another way you can determine the quality of a grow light, according to Epic Gardening, is by knowing how much of each diode’s wattage capacity it uses. Many sellers advertise their grow lights as having high wattage when it’s only the potential wattage, never what is reached. If their lights did use their full wattage capacity, their diodes would rapidly degrade. 

Here, Epic Gardening explains how to determine how much of its wattage capacity a diode uses:

How To Choose A Container

Choose One With Holes (Or Take Precautions With A Hole-Free Container)

While you can successfully grow plants in a container with no drainage holes, it isn’t recommended. Not only can it cause overwatering, but pooled water can host harmful bacteria and fungi. If your plant develops root rot, you may not notice until it’s gravely ill. 

If you insist on getting a container without holes, a transparent one will help you see pooled water before it causes trouble. You can also fill the bottom of a container with two-to-three inches of clean rocks so the water can drain below the potting soil.

The Sill recommends watering a hole-free container with no more than a third of its capacity in water.

Choose A Material

The Sill also recommends choosing a container made with a porous material, such as terracotta or wood, as these dry evenly and quickly. However, different types of containers come with different advantages and disadvantages.

jessyratfink provides a handy guide on container materials, which I’ll paraphrase below. 

Terra Cotta

Not only does terra cotta dry quickly, but it turns darker when wet. This can help you determine when plants need water. Unfortunately, it’s also a fragile material that shatters when dropped and can crack in cold temperatures.

Plastic

Plastic containers tend to be cheaper than others. They also tend to hold water longer than terra cotta pots, so make sure they have good drainage. Plastic containers are lightweight and easy to wash but can be degraded by sunlight.

Ceramic

Ceramic containers are sturdy and great at holding in moisture. Their heaviness is both an advantage and a disadvantage — it keeps plants from falling over, but it can make larger containers difficult to lift. Unfortunately, ceramic containers tend to be the most expensive of these materials.

Choose A Size

Make sure a container is large enough to accommodate your plant’s potential width and root depth, which you can probably find online. If you intend to plant something that grows slowly, it may be best to start it in a small container and transplant it to larger ones as it grows.

Can You Reuse Potting Soil?

You can reuse potting soil, as long as the plants previously in it weren’t diseased. Otherwise, you should toss it. Below, I’ll paraphrase Mick Telkamp’s guide to reusing potting soil.

Solarize It

Even if your plants didn’t get sick, their potting soil might harbor harmful microbes. To kill them off, put the potting soil in a black plastic bag and leave it in a sunny spot for four to six weeks. If you’re worried about baking bugs to death, put the potting mix through a sifter first to get them out.

Add Nutrients

Since other plants have taken nutrients from your potting soil, you should find a way to add some back in. Slow-release fertilizer, vermiculite, or compost may do the trick. If using compost, use one part compost to three or four parts old potting soil. It’s also a good idea to mix one part old potting soil with one part new potting soil. 

Rotate Crops

Because different plants absorb nutrients in different amounts, rotating your container crops may help plants get nutrients the others didn’t use.

Plant Crops That Like Poor Soil

Some plants won’t care if your potting soil is low in nutrients. Plant them to extend its usefulness.

What To Look For In A Hand Trowel

When choosing a hand trowel, wiseGEEK writer Mary McMahon recommends the following:

  • Choose one with a comfortable handle
  • Make sure the hand trowel is sturdy
  • Avoid painted hand trowels if you’re concerned about the paint flaking off
  • Stainless steel is an ideal blade material
  • If you’d like to be able to change your hand trowel, get one with a hole in its handle

Inorganic Fertilizer, Organic Fertilizer, And Compost — What’s The Difference?

According to Garden Myths, fertilizer isn’t legally fertilizer (in parts of North America) unless it guarantees minimum percentages of at least nitrogen, phosphate, and potash. However, this doesn’t reflect the common usage of the word. 

As a result of this definition, compost — a mix of decaying organic matter — is technically not fertilizer because its contents are so variable. However, it is a nutritious soil amendment that can feed plants.

To use compost for potted plants, Gardening Channel recommends adding an inch on top of the potting soil twice a year. 

Organic fertilizers, according to OSU Extension Service, are derived from plants and/or animals, whereas many inorganic fertilizers are manufactured. However, some inorganic fertilizers come from natural mineral deposits.

Inorganic fertilizers generally contain few nutrients, although they’re readily available to plants. 

Meanwhile, organic fertilizers generally contain low concentrations of plant nutrients, many of which have to be converted into useful forms by microbes. As a result, organic fertilizers generally release nutrients slowly.

For more information on fertilizer, watch this video by Milorganite Fertilizer:

Should You Buy Plants Online Or In-Person?

Should you drive to a local plant nursery, or should you order plants online? The best option for you depends on your situation. 

If you want to get a plant as soon as possible, and a local store has it, get it there. But if you can wait, you may find a better deal online. Local nurseries also tend to only stock what they think will sell, meaning you may have to buy more exotic plants online.

Bob Vila consulted two experts on how to buy plants online. Erin Marino, Director of Brand Marketing at The Sill, says customer reviews of a plant can help you see how well it did or didn’t satisfy others. She states that both on-site and external reviews are useful, the latter tending to reveal the quality of transactions and shipping.

Stacey Noble, Retail Business Manager at Ball Horticultural Company, cautions that you should only purchase plants when your local climate is ready for them. She states that online store websites and suppliers usually label plants with their hardiness zones.

Bob Vila also says to read the fine print, so you know what you’re buying. Plants may arrive as in pots, with bare roots, or as cuttings. Reading a store’s policies also helps you know what to expect from them.

Bob Vila also recommends choosing plants compatible with your growing zone.

What’s The Best Gardening Platform/Tower?

If I could only recommend one gardening platform to use indoors, I’d recommend the Garden Tower 2. Not only does this rotating tower allow you to grow 50 plants in only four square feet of space, but its composting core turns your kitchen scraps into nutritional gold. If you ever decide to garden outdoors, this product is excellent for people with tiny yards or apartment balconies.

With its six stackable levels, the Garden Tower 2 is easy to assemble and take apart. Made of durable, UV-resistant, food-grade, and recyclable HDPE, it’s designed to last 12 years outdoors. The dye is FDA-approved so you can know your home-grown, organic veggies are safe to eat.

The Garden Tower 2’s ingenious design conserves water, covers the smell of compost, and prevents weeds. You can use it sitting or standing and turn it with one hand. Because it’s turnable, you can easily expose all sides to direct sunlight.

Standing 43-inches (109.22 cm) tall and 25-inches (63.5 cm) wide, this product weighs just 36 pounds and holds six cubic feet of potting soil.

To see why the Garden Tower 2 was recently named the “World’s Most Advanced Container Garden,” watch this video by Garden Tower Project:

How To Use A Heat Mat

In this video, OurStoneYacres explains how to use a heat mat:

As he explains, seeds generally germinate best in soil temperatures between 68F and 86F (20C and 30C). The advantage of heat mats is that they raise soil temperature, regardless of surrounding air temperature. In fact, he says that seedlings generally benefit from air temperatures being somewhat cooler than soil temperatures.

OurStoneYacres  states that it’s fine for most seed heat mats to get a little water on them – just don’t let them get submerged. Simply place your heating mat under a solid seed tray (with no drainage holes) and plug it in. If all goes well, your seeds will germinate faster than they otherwise would have.

He also cautions not to use a heat mat when air temperatures are over 70F (21C), as this can make the soil too hot.

Happy Shopping!

I hope this guide to the best indoor gardening supplies will help you create a magnificent garden or choose a gift for someone else. If I could recommend any one particular item in this article, it would be the Garden Tower 2. You can grow so much food in barely any space!

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Last update on 2021-01-22 at 23:39 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API