From the moment you purchase your first plant, the business of acquiring equipment begins whether it remains fairly basic or progresses ta the level required by the dedicated collector. Most garden centers sell a bewildering array of tools and equipment, most of which falls into the “nice to have,” rather than “need to have” category, although there are certain items that are important.
The essentials include: a clean, sharp pair of primers for pruning and propagation; a mister for increasing humidity; a watering can with a long spout to reach through the foliage of the plant directly to the soil; a dibble for when the plant is young, and a gardener’s trowel for later on; a measuring jug for mixing fertilizer or chemical treatments; and labels to identify each plant.
Tools do not have to be bought, they can be improvised from the home. Cutlery is always useful, and can be attached to short canes with string or insulating tape for dealing with plants in a tall bottle garden. The main rule is to keep all your equipment clean to prevent cross-infection.
This is a range of equipment used in the care and maintenance of indoor plants, ad various stages in their lives. The better the quality, the longer the tools will last: sieve, knife, scissors, pruners, pliers, plastic labels, dibble, fork, trowel, mister, thermometer, watering can, measuring jug, funnel.
For dealing with small, plants and containers, it is easier to use scaled-down tool such as these, which allow detailed work without causing damage to the stems or roots: scissors, rake, trowels.
Growing plants from seeds or cuttings needs only a little extra equipment and is very satisfying. You will be needing the following: plastic bag, widger, cell pack, tray, plastic labels, small jar, rooting hormone, pencil, propagator.
Many plants can be grown from seed or cuttings using this equipment, although some will respond better if they are given a little extra warmth in the early stages in a propagation case with heating cables laid in. The propagator and plastic bag both serve to keep the humidity high around the plants, reducing stress and speeding up rooting.
Sowing seed in cell-packs rather than trays takes up more room, but eliminates the need for transplanting. This means that there is no check in growth, producing a larger plant more quickly, and is particularly suitable for larger, easy-to-handle seeds. When seedlings need to be transplanted, the widger can be used to ease them out of the soil by levering beneath the roots to cause as little damage as possible. They can then be planted in the new soil mix using a dibble to make the hole and then firmed in.
Canes, ties, wire, plant rings, raffia and string are all used to encourage a plant to grow in a specific direction.
Staking plants is often part of their training, to encourage them to grow straight. However, it can be used on indoor plants to alter their natural growth habit — if, for example, you want to train a trailing or climbing plant to grow as a pillar or ball.
When the plant is young and growing quickly, its stake will need replacing regularly to keep it growing correctly. Bamboo canes are cheap and convenient at this stage, and can be used together with string, wire, metal rings, twine, or ties (covered in either paper or plastic) to hold the stems in place. As the plant grows, the support can be changed to a more ornamental one. Keep a close watch on the ties, particularly metal ones that have no flexibility — if they become too tight, they will bite into the stem and constrict it. Each time the stake is replaced, the ties should be changed.