16 gardener-approved gifts for plant lovers

Illustration by Patrick Hruby / Los Angeles Times; animation by Li Anne Liew / For The Times


This is part of the L.A. Times 2022 Gift Guide. See the full guide here. If you make a purchase using some of our links, the L.A. Times may be compensated.

It’s intimidating to start something new, but having the right tools can be a big confidence booster for beginner gardeners or even fledgling plant parents, nurturing orchids or even cactus in their homes.

These suggestions are tried and true by experienced L.A. master gardener Yvonne Savio and yours truly, who has tried and discarded more tools than I’d like to name. These useful — and relatively inexpensive — items might just be the encouragement your budding gardener needs to succeed.

Houseplant stoneware planter

Houseplant stoneware planter designed by Seth Rogen

This handsome stoneware planter and matching drip dish should satisfy every wannabe plant parent. The caramel color is no-nonsense but still attractive. The size is good for a smaller plant, like a fern or succulent, and the backstory is superb — a planter designed by actor-filmmaker-comedian-ceramist and housewares-and-cannabis entrepreneur Seth Rogen. Be a sport and include a small bag of high-quality potting soil.


$98 at Houseplant

Red Gorilla flexible tubs with handles

A yellow 10-gallon tub by Red Gorilla
(Red Gorilla)

This is one of those gifts that you never knew you needed until you got one, and suddenly you need 20 more. Honestly, these soft but sturdy tubs have so many uses in the garden and home it’s hard to know where to start. They are food safe, so use them for harvesting or fill them with weeds or compost or tools. Their handles make it easy to carry liquids too, like a fresh batch of compost tea. The tubs come in multiple sizes, including a wide, shallow number perfect for protecting tables or counters when you’re watering or repotting houseplants. Get one in every size and color, and your holiday shopping is done.

$12.99 (3.7 gallon)-$37.89 (19.8 gallon) at Red Gorilla (also seen in our gift guide for the drought-conscious)

Xlux long-probe moisture meter

Xlux soil moisture meter
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Ask any plant expert: The biggest killer of houseplants isn’t neglect; it’s overwatering. We basically kill our green babies with kindness, because we don’t know when they really need water. This long (40-centimeter) moisture meter eliminates the guesswork indoors and out, making it incredibly easy to check deep in the ground, or in tall pots, to see whether plants are getting water where they need it most — by their roots. Super easy to use and no batteries needed. (Also seen in our gift guide for the drought-conscious.)


$14.99 at Amazon

Theodore Payne poppy hat

A poppy hat by the Theodore Payne Foundation
(Hannah Perez)

Every gardener needs a hat, and what could be cooler than a billed cap with the Theodore Payne Foundation poppy on the front? They come in a wide range of colors, from tie-dye to pigment-dye to old-fashioned neutrals. Choose according to your gardener, and know these sturdy, attractive hats will elevate any newbie’s status to savvy gardener.

$26-$36 at Theodore Payne Foundation

These innovative, environmentally friendly gifts and stocking stuffers save water and power for the eco-conscious this holiday season.

Nov. 2, 2022

Corona Tools ClassicCut bypass hand pruner

Classic hand pruners
(Sheldon Ivester / Corona Tools)

I’ve tried lots of hand pruners, but I keep coming back to my classic Corona because it gets the job done and it comes in a variety of sizes, from the 1-inch for people with larger hands to the model that cuts up to ½-inch diameter branches for people with smaller hands. Either way, every gardener requires a good, sturdy pair of hand clippers, and my Coronas have never let me down. Bonus points: They’re made in Southern California (Corona! Really!) and they are very reasonably priced.

$31-$38.05 at Corona Tools

Corona Tools long-handled spading fork

Corona Tools long-handle spading fork
(Sheldon Ivester / VPD Inc. / Corona Tools)

Master gardener Yvonne Savio strongly recommends a long-handled fork for digging holes for plants and trees because it’s easier on your back and it roughs up the surface of the hole interior rather than shearing off the sides like a shovel would, making it easier for roots to expand and settle into their new home. I was a doubter, but I just had to plant a dozen perennials and I will never go back to using a shovel. These forks are fantastic! And they’re also the best tool for managing a compost pile. You might need a shovel for moving dirt and amendments, but no more for digging holes for plants!

$75.90 at Corona Tools

Corona Tools two-handed pruner

Corona Tools two-handed pruner
(Sheldon Ivester / VPD Inc. / Corona Tools)

This tool falls into the “never knew I needed it, but boy I’m glad I found it” category, so expect some confusion and then fulsome thanks for this gift. This pruner requires two hands, but it’s much more compact than traditional long-handled loppers, so it lets you apply maximum leverage in tight places, a bonus when trying to make cuts in small spaces around shrubs, roses or trees. And being able to use two hands is a boon for gardeners who lack the strength to make big one-handed cuts.

$39.35 at Corona Tools

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Corona Tools RazorTooth folding hand saw

Corona Tools 10-inch RazorTooth folding hand saw
(Sheldon • Ivester Creative Inc. / Corona Tools)

Sometimes a branch just has to be sawed because it’s too thick for hand pruners or even loppers. In those cases, this folding saw is just the ticket. It’s compact enough to fit into your pocket when it’s folded, but the 10-inch blade quickly and efficiently saws through branches up to 6 inches in diameter when it’s opened. This is the kind of tool you want in your shed because when you need a saw, nothing else really works, except maybe a beaver — and they’re tough to train.

$37.60 at Corona Tools


Spear Head Spade

Corona Tools Spear Head Spade with long handle
(Julien Mathieu)

OK, I know I waxed poetic about garden forks, but sometimes you’ve just got to have a shovel, and I really love my Spear Head Spade. The pointed tip makes it easy to dig out unwanted plants or cut roots out of a hole. The blade has good-sized foot rests to make digging easier, and the steel reinforced fiberglass handles come in five bright colors — lavender, red, lime, teal or yellow — so the shovels are near impossible to lose in the garden. I am 6 feet tall and I like my shorter-handled shovel, but for those who prefer a long handle, they sell that version too for $4 more, but only in yellow, alas.

$55 at Spear Head Spade

Gerymu canvas garden tool bag

Garden tool bag from Gerymu

If you really want to be a hero, note that budding gardeners need a place to put all their new tools and a way to carry them around. There are plenty of tool bags out there and many are ridiculously expensive, especially when you consider they will likely be dragged through the mud and get filled with dirty tools and filthy gloves. These bags are sturdy, good looking and hold a lot of gear. Plus they are pretty inexpensive, which means you can use them as a recipient’s stocking and invite others to fill them with tools.

$17.99 at Amazon

Root Assassin rake

Root Assassin rake
(Root Assassin)

This is the kind of gift that frugal gardeners will secretly covet but never buy for themselves. It’s not a must for the garden, but it’s really nice to have when you need to rake and pick up debris, especially if you’re trying to sift leaves and branches from gravel or decomposed gravel walkways. The tines are sturdy and practically unbreakable (despite my best efforts). They’ve been able to pick up pretty much everything I’ve tried to lift, from drifts of walnuts on the lawn to huge piles of leaves on a gravel walkway. Another great tool to have at the ready.

$49.99 at Amazon

Whether fire, air, earth or water, find the best, unique gift for any zodiac sign with our astrology-based guide this holiday season and beyond.

Nov. 8, 2022

Garden Works soil scoop

Garden Works soil scoop for plant gifts list
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

I’m generally suspicious of “multifunction” tools because they usually do nothing very well. But this Soil Scoop is an exception. The serrated blade is handy for ripping open bags of potting soil and does a fair job of sawing up small roots in the soil. The scooped blade is useful for filling pots with soil or amendments, and the tip at the end of the scoop makes it easy to dig through soil for planting or nosing out weeds. This wooden-handle version is the least expensive, but for $10 to $16 more you can purchase its comfort grip scoop in a variety of colors, including a very festive red.

$23.95 at Amazon


Gardguard 100-foot expandable garden hose

100-foot expandable garden hose

This is a game-changing hose, especially for people who are working in small spaces. I wouldn’t recommend dragging this hose through a rocky pasture, but it’s incredibly light and maneuverable, even in chilly weather. It’s also perfect for balconies, patios and other small spaces because it shrinks to a very small size once you turn off the water. It comes in such a small bag, with its own spray nozzle and hanger, that I was sure it was a joke when I first opened the box. Then I used it, and it was so good I bought a second one for the other end of my yard.

$46.99 at Amazon

The Relaxed Gardener watering wand

The Relaxed Gardener watering wand
(The Relaxed Gardener)

A good watering wand is tough to find but so important when you need a gentle sprinkle to wet down a seed bed or newly planted row of seedlings. Most wands feel too long and awkward for my taste, but this midsize wand feels good in the hand and is easy to turn on and off with just the flick of a thumb. You can easily change from a thick stream of water to a small drizzle, depending on what you’re trying to water.

$21.99 at Amazon


FirTree goatskin utility gloves

Firtree goatskin utility gloves
(Lori Ryan / Lori Ryan Photography)

Every gardener needs gloves, and some of my favorites are made from goatskin, a soft and flexible leather that continues to be malleable even after getting wet. These gloves by FirTree are strong, and when they get too dirty I just wash them off under the hose. Once they’re dry, it just takes a few minutes of working with them to get them malleable again. These gloves are easy to put on and take off, which I seem to do multiple times as well. They need replacing after a year of hard work, but at this price, that’s not a big problem. No garden gloves last forever.

$15.99 at Amazon

Cooljob bamboo touch-screen gardening gloves

Bamboo touch-screen gardening gloves
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Yes, there are gloves with pretty flowers and such, but when you’re really working in the garden you want something that will protect your hands and keep them cool (and not sweaty) in hot weather, especially if you are using a sharp tool. These sturdy bamboo gloves have rubber-coated palms and fingers, which shield your hands from splinters, thorns and caked-on dirt, with the added bonus that you can adjust your music or respond to a text on your phone without having to pull them off. Another nice feature: The price includes two pairs of gloves.

$12.99 at Amazon


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