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Houseplant Maintenance Kit

A compact carry-all can house everything you need to keep your houseplants healthy and happy.

Below are the ingredients Paul Epsom recommends to keep your houseplants thriving, all of which can be handily stored in a purpose-built tote for easy access. Everything is visible when you need it, and if you're lucky there'll be a few extra pockets left for your own special additions. Most hardware stores and gardening centers also carry an array of different tool belts and baskets, if something bigger suits your needs.

Coiled Hose

Trowel and Cultivator

First, we have three purpose-built houseplant tools. The cultivator is very useful as well as the mini trowel. The round-ended spade you can probably do without. And for that matter, it's worth noting for the frugal gardener that special tools aren't really necessary at all — a dessert spoon and a dinner fork will do quite well in most cases — just avoid the priceless family heirlooms!

Pruners

A good pair of plant pruners is vital. You'll want one that can handle tough jobs and is small enough for more delicate work. Rounded points generally mean less damage to the plants as well as the gardener. With these you can cut dead branches out, take cuttings, trim roots, and perform all kinds of topiary trimming and shaping. A pair of heavy-duty scissors can be a good standby.

Labels

Plant labels are very important. Write down the name of the plant, when you bought it, and some simple care instructions if you're not at home to look after it personally each week. A plant marker or wax pencil can be used to write on the surface. Stainless steel ones are attractive and last for ever.

Soaker Hose


Mister

Plants usually find houses a little dry, especially in the winter months. A little mister can add humidity, water seeds and help in the cleaning process. All kinds of sprayers are available. If you're short of cash, reuse a glass-cleaner spray bottle, or some such. Just make sure you rinse it out thoroughly before filling with water.

Soaker Hose


Moisture Meter

One of the great killers of houseplants is too much water, not too little. Moisture meters are helpful for making sure that you're not over-watering. The probe can be plunged deep into the container to check on the water content of the soil down below. Some plants like to dry out, some don't, and this little device will help you become an expert waterer.

Wire or Tape

It's always a good idea to have something to tie plants up with. Whether it's horticultural wire or tape, some climbing plants might need a little help along the way.

Leaf Shiner

There are all kinds of products to improve the appearance of leaves on your plants, but the key thing is not to let too much dust form. Shine products do make the leaves really shiny, though, and a little easier to dust.

Slow-release Fertilizer

One of the great developments for gardeners in recent years has been high-quality slow-release fertilizers. Applied in spring, a good 9-month release is all you need. The granules are sprinkled on the soil and every time you water the right amount of fertilizer trickles down through the soil — what could be easier!

For more information on resources used on the show, visit our Resource Directory

This segment appears in show #2725.

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Published August 31, 2007