painless shopping

The Best Gifts for Gardeners

Photo: Retailers

If you talk to any gardener or horticulturalist, they’ll tell you that while tending to a garden may start out as a hobby, it can quickly become a lifelong passion. On its surface, a hobby for life would seem to make gift shopping easier — but in reality, that can mean the gardener in your life already owns a lot of practical tools or planters or other items simply by keeping up with their favorite pastime. So, what do you get the gardener whose greatest pride is their verdant, flowering oasis? Below, we’ve rounded up 26 ideas that are sure to delight, all of which are things we’ve written about before. From artisanal brooms to heritage watering cans to smart, self-watering herb gardens that take the guesswork out of growing, our list includes something for pretty much everyone — whether they’re the proud cultivator of an impressive English-style cottage garden or a humble apartment gardener hoping to hone their green thumb.

A wide-brimmed sun hat is essential when toiling away outdoors, and this one, which no less than two Strategist writers own (and love), is super affordable and functional. Not only will its brim protect a face from the sun’s rays, but it has an adjustable cord that makes it easy to wear around your neck if you want to take it off for a bit. It comes in several different colors, too.

If you want a hat that’s even more functional, here’s one that Chris Black recommends for hiking. The fast-drying bucket hat comes with special water-activated cooling crystals that help regulate temperature.

Sustainably made from 100-percent-recyclable plastic hemp, these waterproof clogs from France are ideal for tromping around in a vegetable patch (or any other garden). Both Strategist writer Hilary Reid and senior editor Katy Schneider own a pair, and Schneider says, “They remind me of something my mother would have worn gardening in the ’90s, and they’re just really pretty and unusual and perfect.”

We wrote about the rise of the artisanal broom two years ago, and we’re sure that the gardener in your life would appreciate a tool that is as useful (for cleaning up dead leaves) as it is beautiful. Here’s a gorgeous broom made from beech wood and sorghum grass that Shoukei Matsumoto, a Japanese Buddhist monk (and the author of A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind), recommends for use in a garden. “This broom’s brush creates a nice, meditative sound as you sweep it,” says Matsumoto. “In Japan, it’s very normal to sweep not only the land your house is on but also land around it, like public sidewalks or nearby parks or gardens.”

For something a little more high tech, consider this garden rake that Strategist contributor and gardener of four decades Joseph Truini swears by. The lightweight aluminum-alloy rake features a telescopic handle and an adjustable head that goes from 7½ inches to 21¾ inches wide — the better to squeeze into those narrow spaces between rows of plants.

If your gardener doesn’t have one of these pruners from Swiss company Felco, it’ll make a fantastic gift, as the F2 model is considered the industry standard. It tops our roundup of the best expert-recommended pruners and, according to Kurt Morrell, the VP of landscape operations at the New York Botanical Garden: “A good gardener or horticulturalist anywhere in the world is most likely going to have a pair of Felcos.”

This sculptural planter inspired by the shape of a cog has beveled edges, a unique base, and a mouth that’s cut on an angle. It’s a favorite of Marc Hachadourian, the New York Botanical Garden’s director of glasshouse horticulture and senior curator of orchids, who likes to use it when he brings in his orchids from the greenhouse to put on display.

There are many (cheaper) copycats of the Modernica planter out there, but real heads say the original is a touch above for its craftsmanship and aesthetic. Darryl Cheng — the Canadian “plantfluencer” behind House Plant Journal — counts it among the “insider goods” he and other plantfluencers swear by.

If your gardener cares more about the plant within than the origins of the planter itself, here’s one of the Modernica dupes that costs a fraction of the price.

The pure copper watering can from British heritage brand Haws has a storied history and a cult following among serious horticulturists (including Martha Stewart). That’s in large part thanks to its gleaming finish, architectural silhouette, and “rose” nozzle, which puts forth an even spread of water that “can simulate a very gentle rain,” according to Cheng. Yes, it’s pricey, but if you want to make an impression on the indoor gardener who has everything, here’s your chance.

If the price of the full-size Haws is prohibitive, this mini-version that holds a pint of water is just as stunning and functional.

This raised-bed planter would make a great gift for the gardener-in-training who can’t wait to have access to a bit of outdoor space of their own. Suitable for indoor use (or out, if they have a balcony or roof), it’s self-watering, which means that their victory garden will be fine even if they forget about it for a few days. [Editor’s note: The raised garden will be back in stock on July 28.]

Another idea for the gardener-in-training is this expert-recommended “smart” herb garden that makes growing even easier. It’s not only self-watering, but also has a built-in grow light, which is especially handy in a city apartment that might not get consistent sun. The device uses Keurig-style plant pods that are biodegradable and contain “smart soil” that is inspired by NASA technology that releases nutrients, maintains soil pH, and ensures that plants have enough space to breathe by way of tiny oxygen pockets.

For the novice gardener that is ready to transition from cultivating indoors to outside, this set that Truini swears by comes with three essential tools for any budding green thumb. According to him, “it includes a garden trowel for excavating shallow holes and trenches, a three-tine cultivator for loosening up hard soil, and a measured transplanting trowel for digging holes to precise depths, which is especially important when planting bulbs.”

The hard-core vegetable gardener will be absolutely delighted by this cucumber trug (first recommended to us by interior designer Rita Konig), which functions just as it looks — as a basket for carrying cucumbers (and other long greens).

For something less precious, consider this expert-recommended plastic tub from TubTrugs that can hold everything from annuals to weeds.

They’re gonna need a vase for all those fresh-cut flowers. Contributor Chloe Malle calls these “delicate but not girly,” and “perfect for a sculptural sprig or stalk.”

Buying a gift membership to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a nice gesture that not only helps the garden while it’s closed during the pandemic, but also gives your loved one a long-awaited nature respite to look forward to. And when it reopens, the cost of membership “is well worth it for skipping the line,” according to powerHouse Books’ founder Daniel Power.

Hachadourian told us that most gardening gloves are too thick and can cause him to “lose the sense of touch that lets me feel the difference between a weed and a real plant.” These nitrile gloves are an exception, however: They’re thick enough to protect him while being thin enough that he can feel the plants he’s working with (and not end up mistaking them for weeds). Plus, “they’re colorful enough so that when you take them off and put them down, you don’t lose them in the garden,” he adds.

In addition to getting watered, tendrils of tropical plants also need mist from time to time to maintain optimal humidity levels. This mister from Haws is another tool from the brand that experts love for how easy it is to use, its good looks, and the size of the water droplets it emits.

A more low-tech (and adorable) solution for keeping a plant hydrated that our friends over at the Strategist UK turned us onto.

Perhaps the gardener in your life wants to create their own compost, but doesn’t know where to start. Diane Miessler, the author of Grow Your Soil, recommends this worm composter, telling us that the finished product of “rich compost writhing with red worms brings joys to most gardeners.”