What Tools Are Necessary for the Best Houseplant Care?

by | Jan 20, 2021 | 0 comments

Are you a new plant parent? A little perplexed about what tools you need to take care of your houseplants? You really don’t need too many for good houseplant care, but there a few I feel are necessary. These are my own opinions and your plant care list may be different. Here we go!

1. Watering Can

Let’s start with what may seem unimportant, but really makes a big difference in my opinion. I’ve had this watering can forever and until I took a picture, I hadn’t realized how dirty looking it is. Yikes! It was made by Bemis, a company which, after checking, I see has been sold, so this watering can is no longer available. I have bought many watering cans (usually because they are cute or green) and I do use them, but this one is by far my favorite. I love the long spout and the handle over the top makes it easy to use. It is only 3 quarts which is just the right size for me. After having back and neck surgery I can’t lift too much, so a watering can that isn’t too heavy when filled is important. I also like that their is a tall “neck” where the water is added that keeps the water from spilling out when watering.

Bemis watering can

Bemis watering can -my favorite

Close copies

I looked online and found a couple I think might be comparable and actually ordered them. I will give you an update when they arrive. Here are the links to the ones I ordered. The first is the Layboo plastic watering can and is 3.3 liters or approximately 3.48 quarts. The second is the Dramm watering can and is 2 liters or approx. 2.11 quarts so it is a bit smaller. They both have a comparable shape but come with an attached rose head which I will remove for my purposes. Mine came with a couple of attachments, but I have since misplaced them. The rose doesn’t work too well inside, but works great outside.

Other choices

Below are a few other watering cans I have collected over the years. I do love my Haws watering cans, but my large one is too heavy for me to carry when it is full. (I bought it pre-back surgery.) The one in the middle of the center picture below is a small Haws and it is perfect when watering a few plants because it doesn’t hold much water. I like the Smith and Hawken (dark green), but water pours out it if I lean it too far forward. I’m not a patient waterer. It does have the long spout I like so if I’m careful, it’s fine. The big bright green one below is from Ikea. The metal ones are from thrift stores.

2. Good potting medium

A good potting medium for your plants is imperative. I mix my own using a commercial potting mix and then adding what I think is needed according to the plant I’m repotting. I always add more perlite to improve drainage and sometimes vermiculite. And of course, a cute antique (or any) scoop is a must!

houseplant potting medium

A good potting medium and of course an antique scoop

3. Assorted essential tools

Below is a tray with some tools that I think are good to have on hand. From left to right: 1. A sponge is perfect for wiping down your leaves. Make sure to rinse between plants so you aren’t spreading “anything” around. 2. An old paint or makeup brush works like a tiny duster to remove dust and pet hair off picky cactus and other succulents, or fuzzy-leaved plants such as African violets. Wash or wipe off the brush between plants. 3. These long tweezers are one of my favorite tools. If you need to get something out of a spiny plant, these tweezers will be your best friend. 4. A ball of twine works well for tying up plants when they are flopping. 5. Small clippers for pruning plants. 6. Gloves, whether they are rubber, latex, or leather are a good idea when working with plants. I don’t always wear gloves because I like to work in the soil with bare hands, but sometimes I do. If I’m working with spiny plants leather gloves work well. Wearing gloves is totally up to you, but good to have available in case.

Houseplant tools

These are some of the tools I feel are a good idea to have


Long tweezers (10″) work great for spiny plants

4. Clippers

Yes, I have a lot of clippers. Because we own a garden center, we go to numerous trade shows and when I see all the different clippers, I pick them up. Below are some of the many I have. (Clipper hoarder?) They are from Fiskars, Corona, Felco, and some that are not marked and I don’t remember the brand. I use them all at different times, using the ones that are the closest to me at the time. I often misplace my clippers (probably somewhere with my phone), so I need alot. I really like the Corona clippers on the far right. They are called curved grape snips. I don’t have any grapes, but I love the curved blades and they are the perfect size for houseplants. My Felcos are definitely my go-to’s for larger plants and gardening outside.

Assorted garden clippers

Different types of clippers

5. Magnifying glass

This may not be necessary for the younger crowd, but anyone over 45 will understand why this is on my list. Even with my prescription glasses, sometimes I can’t see the insects that may be invading my plants.

magnifying glass

Magnifying glasses

6. Tongs

If you have cacti or other succulents with spines, you probably learned quickly that some sort of tool would be helpful when re-potting and working with them. These old tongs were found at the thrift store and work great! And another scoop. I collect (hoard) them as well.


Tongs and twine are always good ideas

6. Turkey baster

No, we aren’t cooking a turkey. A turkey baster is perfect to remove extra water from an overfilled saucer under a large plant that can’t be moved.

turkey baster

Use a turkey baster to remove excess water from a saucer in a large plant

7. Soil Sleuth

When I worked for an interior plantscaping company, the Soil Sleuth was in our tool belt. Often, it is hard to know what is going on in the bottom of a large pot. Just because the top couple of inches of a large container are dry, doesn’t mean it is time for water. The potting medium in the bottom of the pot may be wet. The soil sleuth pulls up a soil sample from the bottom of the pot so you can check it. I put a link to it above. I am not affiliated with the product nor do I get any compensation. I just love the product!

Soil sleuth

the Soil Sleuth is a great indicator of what is going on in the bottom of a large pot.

Or a wooden dowel

A wooden dowel doesn’t work as well, but if you insert a dowel to the bottom of the pot and leave it there for a few minutes, it will soak up water if it is moist or not if it is dry. When you pull it out of the soil, you’ll know whether your plant needs water or you can wait a bit. Use your finger for smaller pots.

8. Plant tags and a pencil

Another item the younger generation may not need -tags. I can’t remember what I did yesterday so sometimes the plant name escapes me. Therefore, I put a tag in each plant. I also like to write the date I procured the plant and when I repot it. This may just be something I do and not necessary for everyone.

plant tags

Plant tags and a pencil

9. Rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs

If you have a breakout of mealybugs or scale, the first line of defense is rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs. If you touch each insect with an alcohol-dipped swab, it will kill them. You may have to use Neem oil or insecticidal soap in conjunction with the alcohol, so those products should also be in your arsenal. Alcohol is also the best thing to wipe down your tools with between trimming plants so you aren’t spreading any insects or diseases.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is the first line of defense agains insects such as mealybugs and scale

10. Screen

I use a piece of window screen to cover the drainage hole, NOT the shards on the left or the pebbles on the right. Neither of those is necessary or wanted. And by the way, a drainage hole is NECESSARY if you are directly planting your plant into a container. Otherwise, use it as a cachepot. In my opinion, of course.


Screen for over drainage hole

11. Attention

This is important. Pay attention……to your plants. A green thumb is attainable for anyone if they pay attention to their plants. Check your plants often and meet their needs for water and light and your green thumb will begin to reveal itself with healthy, well-grown plants. My thumb…..nail is always green.

watering houseplants

Water your plants when they NEED it, not on a schedule


Have a great week, my plant friends!

Disclaimer: By following some of these links and purchasing products, I may make a few pennies. Thanks!

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