With all the gardening books, tools and plants to buy, it’s usually not hard to find gifts for gardeners in your life. But deciding what’s best for each gardener’s skill level and interests can be tricky. Here are our recommendations for the best gifts for gardeners of all types.
Information and inspiration help gardeners succeed and really embrace this purpose-filled hobby. A membership in the hort society is a great gift for gardeners of all levels and interests. Members get six issues per year of Northern Gardener magazine, the only magazine devoted to gardening in USDA Zones 3 and 4, tickets to the Minneapolis Home Show, discounts at nurseries and more. Full memberships and Northern Gardener subscriptions are $5 off through Nov. 25. For gardeners who like to get all their information online, check out our digital membership package—perfect for beginners! It’s only $20 a year, so would be a great stocking stuffer for new gardeners on your list.
For Absolute Beginners
Remember all the mistakes you made as a new gardener? With 18 million new gardeners since 2020, there are a lot of beginners out there. A good set of hand tools, a nice spade, a rain gauge, gardening gloves—all the basics make terrific gifts for gardeners just starting out. A hand-pruner is a must-have. I really like this small one from Dramm (fits in your pocket and handles most garden pruning), but you could also go for the hand pruner many pros use, the Felco No. 2.
Books are also great for beginners. For houseplant lovers, The New Plant Parent (Harry Abrams, 2019) by Darryl Cheng will give new gardeners confidence as well as information. Vegetable enthusiasts might like The Homegrown Pantry (Storey, 2017) by Barbara Pleasant, and for those who like a project or have limited space, Micro-Food Gardening (Cook Springs, 2021) by Jennifer McGuinness is filled with ideas. (You can listen to my interview with Jen on the Grow it, Minnesota podcast.) Finally, for a beginner who likes solid advice and a bit of humor, Carol Michel’s new book, Digging and Delighted (Gardenangelist Books, 2021) is a great choice.
Or, try our New Gardener Bundle, which includes seeds, gloves and tons of inspiration.
For Pollinator People
Many gardeners are planting all or part of their property with pollinators in mind. If you have a gardener who loves birds, bees, butterflies and more, consider encouraging their passion with a garden gift. Gift cards for seeds or plants or maybe a bee lawn seed mixture would be welcome. Or, if they are new to pollinator gardening, how about the gift of a plan to guide them. Northern Gardener columnist Rhonda Hayes has a great book on pollinator gardening, or try one of Heather Holm’s guides to bees or wasps or just about anything by Douglas Tallamy. If you want to give something decorative and useful, a bird bath (water is essential to pollinator gardening) or a bee condo are great ideas. Another fun idea is a bird cam for those who love to watch the birds visiting their feeders and gardens.
For the Flower Lover
Everybody loves a fresh bouquet from the garden and cutting gardens have been trending the past few years. If your favorite gardener loves to grow flowers for indoor use, how about purchasing a bundle of their favorite flower seeds? A collection of cute vases or some flower supports or stakes for their favorite blooms? This flower snip has been a popular item at the Minnesota State Fair and is perfect for cutting stems for a bouquet.
If your gift recipient loves to learn and dream about flowers, they’ll enjoy the creative ideas and breath-taking photos in A Year in Flowers (Chronicle Books, 2020) by Erin Benzakein of Floret Farms. Or, how about buying your gardening friend one or more online webinars from MSHS. The two-part class on growing dahlias will give them skills and inspiration.
For the Budding Homesteader
With the pandemic, many gardeners started getting more serious about raising their own food. This can be challenging in our climate without season-extenders. A greenhouse is the dream for many three- or four-season gardeners. We’ve seen them for about $500 all the way up to several thousand dollars. A lower-cost option is a covering or cold frame that pops on top of a raised bed, like these. There are a number of books out for backyard homesteaders. Some of our favorites include Niki Jabbour’s Year-Round Vegetable Gardener (Storey Press, 2011) and her Growing Under Cover (Storey, 2021), which is a great resource for extending the season.
For the Scientific Gardener
If your gardening friend takes a scientific approach to their hobby, you could get them a soil thermometer, an outdoor weather station, even a soil moisture monitor. One of our favorite books of 2021 was Plant Partners (Cool Spring Press, 2021) by Jessica Walliser. This book digs deep into the science of companion planting—which companion plants really help each other (and why) and which recommendations are just myths. It’s a great read.
We hope these suggestions give you some ideas for gifts for gardeners in your family.
For more information about hort society programs and projects, join the hort!