A woman in a floppy straw hat smiles with her eyes closed, holding a potted tomato plant. Trees are visible behind her.

The 10 Best Gifts For Gardeners and Plant People

What does a gardener need besides soil, sunlight, and a packet of seeds ready to be planted? A lot, it turns out. Never fear—if you’re shopping for the gardener in your life, here are the 10 best gifts to give them for the holidays!

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Gardening can be a tricky hobby to shop for, since it varies widely depending on where your gardener lives and what they like to grow. Are they into heirloom vegetables or permaculture gardening? Do they live on ten acres in a temperate climate, or a tiny apartment in a harsh desert? Are they a novice or an expert? Instead of just grabbing the first plant you see off the rack at the hardware store, you’ll want to tailor your holiday shopping to your gardener’s specific tastes and needs.

Check out these suggestions below to get started!

A quality guide to your gardener’s bioregion

Cover of the Sunset Western Garden Book
(TI Inc. Books)

Gardening in Alaska is a very different endeavor than gardening in Arizona. Each ecologically distinct region, or bioregion, has its own gifts and challenges. Some plants will thrive where your gardener lives; others may not last a week.

If your gardener doesn’t already own a high-quality gardening guide for their bioregion, then they’ll welcome the addition to their gardening library. Here in California, for example, The Sunset Western Gardening Book and California Native Plants for the Garden are indispensable guides. To find the best guide for your gardener’s region, contact their local master gardener hotline, native plant society, or plant nursery for suggestions.

A book on herbalism, fermenting, or canning

Cover of The Healing Garden by Juliet Blankespoor
(Harvest Books)

A surprising number of supposedly ornamental plants—and common weeds!—actually have medicinal qualities. Other edible plants can be prepared and preserved in surprising ways. Elder, for example, isn’t just a fetching shrub that attracts birds. Its berries make a tasty immune-boosting syrup, and its flowers are sometimes used in cocktails.

If your gardener is looking to branch out (get it?) in their botanical adventures, give them a book that will help them put the plants in their garden to use. Here are a few ideas:

  • The Healing Garden by Juliette Blankespoor
  • Alchemy of Herbs by Rosalee de la Forêt
  • The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
  • Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine

A seasonal planting calendar

Seasonal produce calendar by Maker & Moss.
(Maker & Moss)

Years ago, my husband and I got Maker & Moss’s gorgeous seasonal produce calendar for a gardener in his family, and it’s still hanging in their kitchen. This particular calendar lists vegetables that are in season each month in the San Francisco Bay Area. It won’t apply to every zone and region, of course, so you may have to do some research to find one more suited to your gardener’s home. Katydid Garden Designs, for instance, sells calendars customized for zones 4-6 and 7 on her Etsy site.

A fancy pot or two

A houseplant in a white ceramic pot on top of a dresser.
(Naveen Sahu, via Pexels.com)

This gift idea may seem basic, but as a container gardener, I can testify that we plant people cannot get enough fancy pots. Those suckers can get pricy, and any pot can crack or break, so I have yet to meet a gardener who will turn down a high-quality vessel for their leafy babies. Next time you visit your gardener’s garden, take a look at any potted plants they might have. Are most of the plants in cheap reddish clay pots—or even worse, plastic pots? If so, it’s pottin’ time.

To find a good pot, go to a nursery and look for glazed ceramics with drainage holes in the bottom, and a matching tray that goes underneath to catch water. (Yes, the tray will cost extra.) The glaze helps keep water in the soil from evaporating, and the tray can help wick water back up into the pot if it drains too quickly. If your gardener is limited to a windowsill or porch, aim for something compact. If they have some space to work with, you can spring for something bigger. Like what, you ask? How about a pot for…

A tree

A lemon tree next to a wall.
(Nati, via Pexels.com)

Saplings and small trees are amazing … and expensive. A tree can run from $80 to several hundred dollars. But if you’ve got cash to spare and you know your gardener’s been hankering for a major addition to their garden, consider gifting them a tree.

If you go with something small, like a Meyer lemon or a kumquat tree, then it can stay potted indefinitely. (If you’re gifting citrus, though, just be mindful of huanglongbing disease.) If you want to buy them a tree that will eventually get, you know, tree-sized, then you should do some reconnaissance to make sure they actually want it. In other words, you’ll want to be really certain they can handle that giant sequoia seedling before you proudly present it to them.

A gardening memoir

"Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Image: Milkweed Editions.)
(Milkweed Editions)

What’s the next best thing to gardening? Reading about gardening! There are tons of wonderful memoirs, manifestos, and essay collections by gardeners and plant lovers out there, but here are a few especially good ones.

  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation
  • Second Nature by Michael Pollan, acclaimed author and food writer
  • Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate by Wendy Johnson, Zen Buddhist meditation teacher
  • World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (This book isn’t explicitly about gardening, but it’s bursting with love for the natural world that will make any gardener happy.)

High quality gardening tools

pruning shears on a wooden table with leaves next to them.
(Garrett Wade)

When it comes to tools like pruning sheers and gloves, quality makes a huge difference, but some gardeners might feel hesitant about splurging on themselves. (I myself watched my cheap gloves disintegrate into dust before finally investing in a good pair.) If your gardener is eking by with rusty pruning shears or other sad-looking tools, treat them to an upgrade.

The pruning shears pictured above, which gave me chills when I laid eyes on them, are forged carbon steel blades made by Garrett Wade. If you want your gardener to love you forever, get them the matching leather sheath so they can always have their pruners at the ready.

An Aerogarden

An aerogarden on a kitchen counter, full of herbs.

Obviously a gardener is happiest when they’ve got their hands in the earth, a cheerful breeze on their back, and a chorus of birdsong around them. Obviously. But if they’re wiling away the winter months, or fighting to keep their cherry tomatoes away from squirrels and other pests, then an indoor garden can be the next best thing.

Aerogardens—those little hydroponic containers with the grow lights on top that you’ve probably seen here and there—are a great option for gardeners who are dealing with bad weather, pests, or a lack of space. The six or nine pod option fits on a kitchen counter, and your gardener can use it to plant herbs, flowers, and a limited variety of fruit.

A botanical garden membership

A bonsai tree sits on a wooden bench with other trees in the background.
(Scott Webb via Pexels.com)

If your gardener lives in a big city, they may not have the kind of access to nature that they’d like. (It’s me, I’m the gardener.) However, spaces like botanical gardens can be a great way for your gardener to get their fix. Some gardens are free, but others charge admission, so you can see if there’s a local botanical garden that offers annual memberships. For example, Descanso Gardens outside of Los Angeles offers individual memberships for $70.

Botanical artwork

Lastly, no one can have too much greenery in their lives, so when your gardener isn’t puttering around their physical plants, give them some botanical artwork they can hang in their home! Here are a few of my favorite botanical artists.

(featured image: Gary Barnes via Pexels.com)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>