gifts they might actually want

The Best (Strategist-Approved) Gifts for Gardeners

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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The great thing about gardening is that it doesn’t require a ton of high-tech or expensive equipment; all you need to grow a plant is light, water, soil, and persistence. That makes gardeners tricky to shop for, though — the horticulturalist in your life likely owns a lot of the tools they need. So what do you get the person who stockpiles stacks of planters and has already perfected their fertilizer blend? Below, I’ve rounded up 56 ideas, sourced from my own reporting (and experience as an obsessive apartment gardener), digging through The Strategist’s deep archive of gardening content and polling the Strategist gardening caucus. From a practical telescoping rake to a heritage watering can to our favorite smart garden that takes the guesswork out of growing herbs indoors, . There’s something for pretty much everyone — whether they’re the proud keeper of a sprawling backyard garden or an apartment gardener leveling up their plant-tending skills.

Gardening tools

If your gardener doesn’t have a pair of pruners, the F2 model from Swiss company Felco — our best-in-class pruner — would make a fantastic gift. The pruners are the industry standard: 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.” (They also have a model for lefties and the slightly more compact F6, both below. I use the F6 myself — they’re a better fit for smaller hands.)

These hedge shears by Okatsune, also the maker of a favorite latch-lock pruner, would make a great gift for any gardener who avoids the chainsaw and prefers an analog approach to hedge-trimming. They have a steel blade that holds an edge well and white oak handles.

$21

For pruning and snipping that require a finer touch, these chef-recommended scissors are also great for gardening. “Their shape and size gives you a lot of control,” says Strategist writer Emma Wartzman, for harvesting everything from tomatoes to “smaller herbs like oregano or thyme, when you want to snip a few stems without hacking at the whole plant.”

Photo: Retailer

I’m a huge fan of these small, supersharp Japanese iron herb shears — they’re very beautiful and very practical, and I use them almost every day. The fine point is especially useful for snipping herbs from my smart garden.

Fiskars Ergo Garden Tool Set
$27
$27

This is a great starter tool set for the novice gardener who’s ready to transition from cultivating indoors to outside. Strategist contributor Joseph Truini, a gardener for four decades, recommends it — especially the measured transplanting trowel, which is useful for planting bulbs.

Photo: Retailer

We wrote about the rise of the artisanal broom a few years ago. (“People tend to ask, ‘Are your brooms sculptures or tools?’” broom-maker Erin Rouse told us. “A nice broom is right at the intersection.”) These double brooms are made to order (and can be customized!), so plan a few weeks ahead.

A butcher-favorite French pocket knife with a curved blade and tiny brush designed specifically for harvesting and cleaning mushrooms — handy if your giftee is a forager.

For a more utilitarian option, this lightweight aluminum-alloy rake features a telescopic handle and an adjustable head that goes from 7½ inches to 21¾ inches wide, good for squeezing into narrow spaces between rows of plants.

This red steel hoe from Johnny’s Selected Seeds is great for digging and removing weeds. Dan Colen, artist and founder of Sky High Farm, a sustainable farm in the Hudson Valley, swears by it: “The blade is sharp; the grip is comfortable,” he says. “Without it, I’d be down on my knees pulling things out of the ground or throwing my back out, which I do all the time regardless.”

Things to wear while gardening

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Because “Australians make the best summer hats,” writes Strategist writer Kat Gillespie. This hat from Alpha60, a brand “beloved by stylish Melburnians,” offers great sun protection and comes in several colors and patterns, including a cheerful plaid.

Photo: Retailer

A T-shirt to declare their love of native biodiversity and enmity toward monoculture lawns.

This citronella-based insect repellent is highly effective and smells so good that contributor Aleta Burchyski’s husband occasionally wears it as cologne. It comes in handy during the summer months to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Overalls are a gardener’s uniform for a reason: They’re durable, comfortable, and have plenty of compartments to store tools. Katie Parks, who documents her Northern California gardening on her Instagram, Freckles and Sprouts, is a fan of these ripstop nylon Duluth overalls: “They have loads of pockets on the legs, on the front, a pocket for knee pads to be inserted into, and even a small harvest pocket that is detachable,” she says.

We’re also big fans of Patagonia’s sturdy canvas duck overalls, which come in a wide range of sizes and inseam lengths.

For plants that require a lighter touch, they’ll appreciate an alternative to thick gardening gloves. Marc Hachadourian, the New York Botanical Garden’s director of glasshouse horticulture and senior curator of orchids, says that most gardening gloves cause him to “lose the sense of touch that lets me feel the difference between a weed and a real plant.” These are thin enough to preserve a finer sense of touch. Plus they’re colorful, so “when you take them off and put them down, you don’t lose them,” he says.

These Italian rubber clogs have a massive fan base that includes gardeners (and nurses, a trustworthy source for comfy-clog intel). They come in 18 colors and a full unisex size range.

From $81

The Muckster II topped our ranking of garden boots, with high marks for durability, flexibility, and comfort. “These are my go-to shoes whether I’m in my garden, walking my dog, or doing the school run,” says ecologist and botanist Becky Searle.

One of our favorite gifts that give back, these intricate hand-blown glass heads of bok choy also support a good cause: 50 percent of revenue is donated to Heart of Dinner, a nonprofit that delivers weekly hot meals, groceries, and notes to Asian elders.

Garden furniture and décor

If they tend a garden, chances are they have a favorite spot to sit and admire it. This powder-coated-steel bistro set is cute and durable and folds up with a small enough footprint for city gardens.

Photo: Retailer

Or if their taste leans more retro, gift them a classic, made-in-America aluminum-framed lawn chair in a colorway exclusive to the MoMA Design Store.

For their garden picnics, gift them a waterproof gingham blanket that looks more expensive than it is.

Give your horticulturalist the gift of bird visitors with this cedar hanger, which can serve as a birdbath or feeder. Birder Juita Martinez recommends installing an open-platform feeder like this one because it can accommodate birds of any size.

This raised-bed planter makes a great gift for the gardener-in-training who can’t wait for their own plot at the community space. Suitable for indoor use (or out, if they have a balcony or roof), it’s self-watering, which means their plants will be fine even if they forget about it for a few days.

Photo: Vego Garden

Vego Garden’s raised beds were first enthusiastically recommended by Kate Anello, backyard gardener and sister of former Strategist writer Chloe Anello. The beds are easy to assemble and modular — plus, the delivery box is compact enough to be wrapped as a gift.

Planters, pots, and vases

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This modular piece from designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams tops our list of status planters. It has a smooth porcelain finish and — important for gardeners who may doubt the functionality of fancy planters — integrates a drainage saucer into its design. “That imperceptible drainage tray gets me every time,” says Sight Unseen co-founder Jill Singer. “It’s basically a sexy workhorse planter.”

Photo: retailer

This handsome ceramic vase is one of our favorite gifts from Black-owned businesses. It could hold a handful of fresh stalks, but if nothing’s flowering, it looks just as good as décor.

Photo: Retailer

No matter how many pots they own, they can always use another one for propagations or impulse plant purchases. (And if you’re gifting them a plant, it’s helpful to include a pot.) This blue-gray ceramic beauty from the Brooklyn nursery Natty Garden comes in a range of sizes, from 5.5 inches to 12 inches in diameter, and includes a saucer to catch drainage.

Photo: Retailer

This holiday season, I spent hours looking for a propagation station to gift my mom, the owner of several thriving pothos and spider plants. The search paid off — I discovered Propagation Depot, a Canadian store that sells beautiful wooden propagation stands carved to accentuate the material’s quirks and character. (The model I bought is out of stock, but this station is similar and has space for eight plants.)

There are many copycats of the Modernica Case Study planter out there, but plant people say the original is best for its craftsmanship and aesthetic. Darryl Cheng — the Canadian “plantfluencer” behind House Plant Journal — counts it among the insider goods he and other gardening-content creators endorse.

Every gardener needs a vessel to tote their flowers and produce. Sussex Trugs, a company I first heard about from British interior designer Rita Konig, is the best in the business: It invented the modern trug in the 1820s, adapting it from the Anglo-Saxon trog, a multiuse carved wooden vessel. (They make other plant-specific vessels, like a cucumber trug and log trug, if you’re in the market.)

[Editor’s note: The price is an estimated conversion of pounds to U.S. dollars.]

For the design-minded gardener, consider an elegant glass vase from Hawkins New York. Strategist contributor Chloe Malle calls them “delicate but not girly” and “perfect for a sculptural sprig or stalk.”

Watering tools

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These ingenious terra-cotta stakes are a gift that keeps on giving — they’ll help your gardener keep plants alive when they go on vacation, or make watering a hard-to-reach pot much easier. Yang has been using them since 2014: “They release just the right amount of water into the surrounding soil — when your soil gets drier, more water passes through the terra-cotta.”

The watering can from British brand Haws, which has manufactured watering cans since 1886, has a cult following among serious horticulturists (including Martha Stewart) and is an heirloom item any gardener would be thrilled to receive. It has a gleaming copper finish and a nozzle that puts forth an even flow of water to “simulate a very gentle rain,” according to Cheng.

Australian company Hoselink makes “an exceptional hose,” according to Timothy Hammond of Big City Gardener. This model is retractable, cutting down on time spent coiling and detangling.

From $88

Or you can upgrade their watering system with this aesthetically pleasing hose, also free of BPA, lead, and phthalates. It’s recommended by Lauri Kranz, founder of garden-planning and organic-food-delivery service Edible Gardens LA, who uses it for produce and edible plants.

An inexpensive gift that will change their life. This two-pronged probe measures soil moisture, pH, and sunlight to take some of the guesswork out of growing.

Composting and fermentation gifts

If they want a sturdy compost bin that’s still cute, they’ll love Bamboozle. Strategist contributor Ruth Baron gives it high marks for both aesthetics and functionality: It’s used by other “hot, environmentally conscious New Yorkers.” It comes in a dozen colors, and despite its lightweight footprint, it’s sturdier than it looks.

If they tend a vegetable garden, consider giving the gift of fermentation — this kit has everything you need to pickle cucumbers, make kimchee, or any new recipes they invent.

Our best-in-class outdoor compost tumbler, this durable, “surprisingly weather-resistant” tumbler will help them convert their kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer.

$105

If the gardener in your life looks at a decomposing pile of compost with fascination rather than disgust, may I suggest giving them worms? Grow Your Soil author Diane Miessler recommends this vermicompost system — the finished product of “rich compost writhing with red worms brings joy to most gardeners,” she says. (Pair with red wigglers from our most-recommended worm retailer, below.)

Seeds, plants, and kits

Herbs are notoriously hard to keep alive indoors. Save your urban gardener the hassle with our best-in-class smart garden — it’s self-watering and has a built-in grow light, which is especially handy in a kitchen that may not get consistent sun.

If they’re getting into hydroponics (or just need to supplement dim natural light), this full-spectrum grow light is powerful and adjustable, and it comes with a timer. It’s recommended by Krissie Nagy, the owner of landscaping company BK Bumpkin, and Grow Room owner Lindsey Arnell.

When in doubt, give seeds. Actress Isabella Rossellini, the founder of Mama Farm, an artisanal farm in Brookhaven, New York, loves Johnny’s Selected Seeds. “They have a catalogue that has exclusively organic products — it’s well illustrated and has easy and clear explanations for how to plant the seeds and what conditions they need,” she told us.

If your gardener is also a birder, a recommendation from wildlife biologist Danielle Belleny: Enter their Zip Code in Audubon’s Native Plant Database to find native plant species and which birds they attract. Buy a pack of seeds and wait for a bird-filled springtime.

Photo: Retailer

In our guide to the best plants to give as gifts, multiple plant people recommended the rare Euphorbia Lactea “Dragon bone” cactus, which can be either variegated shades of green or milky white.

Photo: Retailer

If their climate or gardening setup makes it tricky to grow fruit, they’ll love a box of fresh specialty citrus FedExed to their door from California company Pearson Ranch — Wartzman describes it as a cure for “East Coast winter blues.” (I recently gifted a box of Pearson Farm yuzu — hard to find in New York! — and highly recommend it.)

Or, if you truly don’t know what your gardener wants to grow next, get them a gift certificate to Park Seed. The company is one of the country’s oldest and largest mail-order seed operations and was recommended by recently retired gardeners.

This expert-recommended fertilizer, derived in part from seaweed, is a good all-purpose formulation for common leafy houseplants and is water-soluble so can be used for hydroponic growing. It’s also a favorite of carnivorous-plant growers (just dilute it to a weaker solution than is listed on the container).

Books and memberships

A gift membership to their local botanical garden — for example, in the New York metro area, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden — makes it easy for gardeners to seek respite in nature and get inspiration for their own plantings. The BBG membership is also “well worth it for skipping the line,” according to PowerHouse Books founder Daniel Power.

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Gift them the book sometimes referred to as the “Bible of fermentation.” The book “contains a lot of general knowledge of all the different fermented products of the world in a very relaxed manner and helps you understand how you might be able to start making all of your fermented projects,” says chef Dave Park, who recommends the book for beginners.

Photo: Retailer

Isabella Tree’s memoir of “rewilding” a 3,500-acre West Sussex farm makes a great gift for a gardener who enjoys watching the complex ecosystem in their backyard change over time.

Photo: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

This book on rare foods, by BBC food journalist Dan Saladino, “acts as both a guide and a warning: If we don’t protect and honor food diversity and the people protecting it, we’re at risk of losing it for good,” writes Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst in our guide to the best giftable books for dads.