As consumers’ enthusiasm for houseplants grows, so too does the variety of indoor gardening supplies to satisfy this popular hobby. It used to be harder to find items like misters or special succulent soil—heck, even succulents. A few years ago when doing a project for a magazine, I had to go directly to a grower for plants. But now there they are in mainstream shops, basking among the traditional favourites, like African violets and peace lilies, for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you are indulging in a new-found passion for indoor plants or you have plants older than your pets, here are some ideas for your houseplant shopping list.
Indoor gardening supplies for houseplant care
In the summer, I lug a big watering can or a hose around my gardens to water. Indoors, it’s possible to display a more ornamental watering can. An indoor model will generally have a slim spout to more easily direct the water to small pots without spilling.
Honestly, leaving my watering can out helps me remember to water. A lot of my plants get their weekly drink on Sundays. However, if your plants have different watering requirements, a schedule is helpful to keep you on track.
I have a mister that I use for some of my plants that could use the extra humidity in my dry house. It also comes in handy when I start my seedlings.
Self-watering pots are a great solution if you sometimes forget to water—or if you go on vacation. You don’t need to ask anyone to water for you! Use them for windowsill herbs or your favourite tropical plant.
Because houseplants blend in quietly among the décor, sometimes it’s easy to forget they need more than a regular watering. I’m notoriously bad for remembering to fertilize my houseplants, but some of them could definitely benefit from me keeping a regular fertilizing schedule. Any fertilizer I use, indoors or out is organic. Be sure to read up on what your houseplant requires.
Humidifier design has come a long way. You can get small tabletop units that are perfect for small rooms. My house is so dry in winter and a lot of houseplants thrive in humidity—many of them having come from a tropical environment. A compact humidifier should help mitigate extreme dry conditions.
The size of regular gardening tools, like your pruners or trowel, are a bit overkill if brought indoors. I’ve used a kitchen spoon and scissors in a pinch (I have a nice pair of herb and veggie scissors from Fiskars) when I’ve needed to do something small and intricate. It’s pretty hard to add potting soil to a small plant pot with a full-sized trowel. Look for indoor gardening toolkits with labels that are marked for indoor use, and measurements, if they’re provided.
A workshop at a local garden centre introduced me to an invaluable kitchen tool that can be used for indoor gardening: plastic tongs. If you’re into potting up cacti, they protect your hands from the spikes.
Houseplant potting soil
Once your houseplants have outgrown their pot, or if you want to make an arrangement using multiple plants, you’ll need fresh potting soil. You can either gather the ingredients to make your own DIY potting soil, (i.e. sphagnum peat moss, perlite, coarse sand, etc.) or you can find specially formulated bags that are tailored to certain types of houseplants. If you’re new to indoor gardening, ask the retailer where you purchase your plants what type of soil you’ll need. For a decorative arrangements full of succulents, for example, look for a potting soil that is specially mixed for cacti and succulents. If you’re repotting an orchid, it will require its own special mix.
Gadgets for indoor food gardening
I got my first sprouting jar a few years ago at a Seedy Saturday event and I was hooked. Microgreens are quick and easy to grow, and don’t take up much space. And who doesn’t miss those fresh flavours in the winter? I’ve also seen a surge of tabletop grow light systems start to become available for home gardeners. These aren’t the grow-light setups for starting seeds. They’re more compact and decorative. You place them in the kitchen for growing veggies indoors and easy access to fresh ingredients. There are endless kits for growing windowsill herbs, but essentially they’re comprised of seeds and pots.
Indoor gardening supplies for creating decorative arrangements
When you walk into a garden center or houseplant retailer, it’s common to see lovely pre-made arrangements, designed for coffee tables or as centerpieces, full of succulents. You may also see an assortment of terrariums featuring humidity-loving plants, or air plants, artfully displayed in hanging ornaments or attached to a small piece of driftwood. To save a little money or to simply use your own creativity to come up with a design, you can choose to make your own. Simply choose your vessel, plants, and potting soil, and dig in.
I try to follow the same advice for indoor pots as I do for outdoor pots: make sure there is a hole in the bottom. Of course we don’t get heavy rainfalls indoors, so it’s not quite as much of an issue, but you do want to make sure your plants are not sitting in water. For planters that don’t have holes, I typically try to add a fine layer of stone along the bottom. This also helps a bit with humidity, as depending on the pot material, I’ve found it can leave a wet spot behind after watering.
For a terrarium, you can use anything from a Wardian case to a Mason jar (I still have one I made at a workshop a few years ago). It just depends on how much space you have. For tropical plants in a closed container, you’ll want to make a list of recommended supplies: a layer of pebbles on the bottom of your container, followed by a layer of activated charcoal, and then potting soil.
If you’ve planted a succulent arrangement for a coffee table, you may want to add decorative pebbles to the surface. They’re available at my local garden centre in a rainbow of colours. Of course if you’re into fairy gardening, you could add all sorts of accessories to your display.
There are a number of indoor gardening books that have become invaluable resources for me. I’ll admit my green thumb isn’t quite as green indoors as it is out. So I keep a few books on my shelf to consult from time to time.
In his book New Plant Parent: Develop Your Green Thumb and Care for Your House-Plant Family, Darryl Cheng takes such an interesting approach to gardening and made me think of houseplant care in a different way.
Both of Leslie Halleck’s books, Gardening Under Lights and Plant Parenting: Easy Ways to Make More Houseplants, Vegetables, and Flowers are absolute treasure troves of information. These are nightstand picks that deserve a thorough read.
If you follow Summer Rayne Oakes on Instagram (@homesteadbrooklyn), you know her Brooklyn apartment is filled with about 1,000 plants. She shares her knowledge and passion in How to Make a Plant Love You: Cultivate Green Space in Your Home and Heart.
I’ve never met Maria Colletti in person, but we’ve chatted online as I’ve interviewed her for an article and I follow the fun designs she makes for her New York Botanical Garden classes. Her first book, Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass has some great step by steps if you’re looking for inspiration.
Microgreens: A guide to Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens came out some time ago, but remains a favourite. It features recipes and troubleshooting tips.
What indoor gardening supplies can you not live without?
I use chopsticks to aerate my houseplants every 2 or 3 weeks, before I water them. That’s a tip I learned from Darryl Cheng on a long-ago Instagram post.