Not every purchase is a big new sofa or artwork. There are the everyday items we buy because we have to, and because they make our lives better in small ways—or, in this case, make our plants' lives a little better. These might not be the sexiest things we'll ever talk about on Apartment Therapy, but each of these ten items make living the plant life easier. We chat about them around the virtual water cooler (many of us work remotely), and tell our friends and family what they're missing.
I reached out to a handful of Apartment Therapy plant parents about their go-to (inexpensive) buys from Amazon, and here's the list of favorites:
Let's start with some basics. Our Graphic Designer Kath loves FoxFarm products and uses their potting soil: "I love that FoxFarm products are made with super nutrient-rich organic ingredients. I use it for all my 20+ houseplants and they seem to love it. Plus, the company is family-owned and committed to environmental restoration efforts, so win-win."
FoxFarm 12-Quart Ocean Forest Organic Potting Soil from Amazon; $14.40 with Prime shipping
These terracotta plant spikes are a great low-tech irrigation system for forgetful waterers (or for more responsible plant parents who just like to go on vacation every once in awhile). Insert a recycled long-necked bottle into the spike, then flip them over and stick into the soil, and it will keep your plant watered for weeks—just how long depends on the size of the bottle, the size of the plant, and the season.
Terracotta Self-Watering Plant Spikes from Amazon; $13.99 for set of 4 with Prime shipping
Apartment Therapy's Lifestyle Editor Taryn originally bought a cute plant mister from Amazon, "but it kept breaking in new ways" so she bought this "not-as-cute but much more reliable" glass spray bottle, and has been using it ever since to keep plants moist. There's also an amber-colored version.
Empty Refillable 16 oz Glass Spray Bottle from Amazon; $8.98 from Amazon with Prime shipping
Kaitlyn, Social Media Manager for Kitchn, thinks these little pots are pretty wonderful. She says, "A lot of smaller succulents and propagations are hard to care for if you put them in pots that are too big (it can be hard to know when to water them, or they might even hold water too well and cause the plant to rot). I like these guys because they're itty bitty, inexpensive, and legitimately cute unlike a lot of small pots."
2.5 Inch Ceramic Glaze Succulent Plant Potsfrom Amazon; $14.93 for a set of 6 with Prime shipping
We've written about the plant-saving properties of charcoal before, and why you should put some in the bottom of your planters. Activated charcoal (not the briquettes you use to BBQ), is a highly porous material that effectively absorbs excess water and helps avoid root rot. It also filters soil impurities, deters insects, resists mold, and eliminates odors.
Hoffman Charcoal Soil Conditioner from Amazon; $12 for 24 ounces with free Prime shipping
Although Elaine, our Senior Front End Engineer, isn't a plant person herself, her mother is, and uses one of these digital soil testers religiously, and is "quite good at not killing her plants." This 3-in-1 device measures moisture content, PH level, and light levels, so you never have to guess again.
Digital Soil Tester from Amazon; $12.89 with Prime shipping
Production Manager Meghan uses neem oil for her plants, which is a naturally occurring pesticide, miticide, and insecticide found in seeds from the neem tree. "The oil spray keeps those plants from getting bugs—it's very vital, plus it's natural and not harmful for humans!"
Bonide Ready-to-Use Neem Oil, 32-Ounce Spray Bottle from Amazon; $15.70 with Prime shipping
Taryn knows there are more precise ways to go about fertilizing your plants, but in terms of beginner plant parent finds, the fertilizer spikes are foolproof. She says "Buy a few packs—my bigger plants, like T.I. the rubber plant in his 10-inch pot, need five spikes each—stab the spikes in the soil and get on with your life." Also, yes, you read that correctly. Taryn named her rubber plant "T.I."
Jobe's Indoor Houseplant Fertilizer Food Spikes, 50 Pack from Amazon; 9.98 with Prime shipping
If you are looking for a good liquid fertilizer, Kath likes Age Old brand which she says is a great natural option. Reviewers seem to agree. Kath says, "I use their Bloom blend, but they also sell a nice all-purpose blend."