Hoe, hoe, hoe ... try these holiday gifts for gardeners

December 03, 2012
  • Annette Ipsan
Annette Ipsan

Are you stuck for a holiday gift for a gardening friend or family member? I and my green thumb stand ready to help.

First, grab a pot. Classic clay to hammered copper, planters are great gifts and gift holders. Stuff a bit of tissue inside and cram them full of garden gadgets. Instant smiles.

Gloves are a perfect fit. All gardeners use them and wear them out quickly — even my sister, who loves to get her hands dirty. Skip the cheap cotton ones and splurge on a lasting pair that’s washable with solid construction, including reinforced palms and fingertips. 

Tools are cool. Go for a sturdy trowel with a wooden handle that feels good in your hand. Choose hand pruners or a folding pruning saw that sneaks into tight spots. Or, go vintage with an antique watering can. 

Good things come in small packages. Zinc or copper plant markers are classy and lasting. A roll of reusable green Velcro tape will tie up floppy perennials and clematis for years. Seed packets, floral snips and twine are useful and affordable. 

Books are my personal favorite. Give me anything from Rodale or the American Horticultural Society or by Henry Mitchell, Lee Reich, Felder Rushing or Sharon Lovejoy. Scout your gardener’s bookshelf to glean ideas for their top picks.

If you’re buying for an older gardener, think comfort. Ergonomically designed tools with cushioned handles or a telescoping design make gardening easier. A folding, cushioned kneeling stool is a godsend to those of us whose joints talk back.

You can’t go wrong with plants. Give an amaryllis bulb, blooming cyclamen or handsome houseplant. No-greenhouse-required phalaeonopsis orchids are ideal since they bloom in late winter, sometimes for months.

For a handmade holiday, craft something clever gleaned from your garden. Weave a grapevine wreath or bake up some lavender cookies. Start a cutting from a prized houseplant or tumble seeds you’ve collected into a hand-decorated envelope. If you’re handy, build a cold frame.

Is there a girly girl gardener on your list? Think bling. Pick up some nature-inspired jewelry. Floral designs are classic as are gilded trowels and watering cans. Hand-softening soaps or lotions in floral or natural scents are always a hit.

Dudes won’t admit it, but they get dry skin, too. Try a gardeners’ lotion or pumice soap for your manly man. You might get away with a sandalwood or woodsy scent, but patchouli is pushing it unless he’s proud of his ’60s vibe.

OK, don’t laugh, but compost is a grand gift for gardeners. Aged manure, too. Give your garden guy or gal a big smile on Christmas morning when he or she opens a gift card for a scoop of poop or a load of black gold from their favorite garden center. 

There you have it, my dirty dozen ideas for gifts for gardeners. Simple to fancy, cheap to pricey, I hope they give you some incentive to treat the gardener in your life. 

Annette Ipsan is the Extension educator for horticulture and the Master Gardener program in Washington County for the University of Maryland in Washington County.  She can be reached at 301-791-1604 or at

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