Succulent Gardening Tools: What You Need & How To Use Them

I’ve owned succulents for a long time now and over the years I’ve tried a huge range of different tools, some have proved to be useless while others have turned out to be indispensable. While, over time, you’ll find tools that work best for you I thought it would be helpful if I listed my ‘must have’ gardening tools.

Regardless of whether you’re just caring for your succulents or whether you’re planning on replanting them and making cuttings from them, you’ll find that there are a few tools that will make your life much easier. Of course, you don’t technically need any of these tools but the more your succulent hobby grows (sorry I couldn’t resist the pun) the more you’ll benefit from having them.

What tools do you need for succulents?

If you’re new to succulents then you may be confused about all of the tools you’ll find online. The good news is that, while your collection of tools will undoubtedly grow over time, you only really need a handful of tools to start with.

The tools below (in no particular order) are all things that I, personally, won’t do without.

You don't need a lot of tools for succulents

Airtight container

Okay so I admit an airtight container isn’t technically a tool but if you mix your own soil then you’ll undoubtedly mix more than you need at any one time which is where this can be extremely useful. It’s a great place for storing premixed soil but the air tightness means that you can easily keep the soil clean, dry, and free from bugs and unwanted organisms.

Pruning shears or scissors

If you’re looking to make cuttings you can propagate then a sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors is an absolute must-have, especially when you realize that not making a clean cut can damage your succulents. 

Of course, everybody will have their own opinion on whether pruning shears or scissors are best but personally, I like to use long-handled bonsai scissors. I like them because they’re super sharp and make it easy to get into hard-to-reach areas, areas such as tightly packed arrangements, or the lower leaves of a rosette.

Knife

Just like scissors, a sharp knife will help you get into areas that you can’t normally reach. While you could argue that you don’t need a knife as well as scissors, find that a knife is perfect for succulents, such as agaves, that have thick tough leaves. I find that scissors struggle with these but a sharp surgical knife will easily cut straight through.

Chopsticks

Most of us have a few old pairs of chopsticks around the house, but you probably didn’t realize that they can double up as gardening tools for your succulents and that they’re a very useful tool to have. Not only can they be used for making holes in the soil (for seeds, offsets, and cuttings), but they can also be used to prise roots apart or even for making adjustments to your arrangements.

If you don’t have chopsticks then an old knitting needle or barrel from a ballpoint pen will work just as well.

Tweezers

Some people swear by long curved tweezers while others insist eyebrow tweezers are all you need but I personally think you should have both, as well as a few different sizes in between. They’re a tool kit must-have and can be used for a range of different tasks.

From removing dead leaves, weeds, and other foreign objects inside tightly packed terrariums, to loosening root balls, and tucking small rooting in when replanting, tweezers can do it all. They’re also great for propagating as you’ll obviously want to move your cuttings without damaging them.

Soft-bristled brush

We’re always told that a cotton swap dipped in rubbing alcohol is the best way of getting rid of a variety of pests and their eggs, but I’ve always found that this isn’t particularly effective for bugs that have chosen the crevices between the leaves and stems to live. In an attempt to get rid of these little blighters I’ve tried several different things but have found a soft bristled to work the best. Whether it’s a small paintbrush, artist’s brush, or even a blusher brush they all do the job. 

On top of this, they’re also fantastic at removing dust and debris from the delicate leaves that can inhibit the plant’s ability to photosynthesize.

Blower brush

Okay so you could argue that you don’t need a blower brush if you’re using a brush to get rid of dust from the leaves, and that is true, but what about water droplets? This is where a blower brush can really come into its own as it’s the easiest way of removing the droplets that could cause the leaves to burn in direct sunlight.

Most gardening tools can be found in mini form for succulents

Small spade

Regardless of whether you’re a succulent grower, bonsai cultivator, or a professional gardener, a spade is without question the number one tool you should have. Of course, you can use it to move soil from one planter to another but you can also use it to loosen compacted soil.

Mini scoop or bucket shovel

While a spade can be great for moving soil around you’ll find that a mini scoop or bucket shovel can get into areas that are too cramped for the spade. It can also be good for evenly distributing fertilizer or arranging your top dressing.

Personally, I use a spade for most of my plants but find a bucket shovel indispensable for tightly planted arrangements and terrariums.

Small bow rake

Depending on how big your arrangements are and how much space you have in your succulent pots, a bow rake can be a great tool. Not only will it help to level and smooth the top soil but you can also use it to get leaves and weeds out from underneath your succulent without damaging it.

When it comes to repotting your succulent or dividing the roots it can also be used to remove excess soil around the roots.

Transplanting tool

There are plenty of people who will argue you don’t need a transplanting tool but, to be honest, I’ve tried a vast range of different tools and have found a transplanting tool to be the best at moving (and removing) cuttings. It’s also really good for gently placing and arranging succulents in tight spaces.

Mesh

We all know that succulents should be grown in pots with drainage holes, but this can sometimes lead to the soil falling out which is where a mesh comes in. Not only can it stop the soil from falling out of the bottom but it can also prevent bugs from getting in through the holes.

I’ve tried a variety of different mesh products and, while sun protection meshes do work well, I’ve found drywall mesh tape to be the best. Being sticky it will stay in place but you can cut the exact amount you need, so there’s less wastage. You can probably buy drywall mesh tape in your local hardware store you can also buy it online on Amazon.

Spray bottle with 70% alcohol

I know that I’ve talked a lot in the past about why you shouldn’t use a mister for watering your succulents but in this case, it’s different, not least because you’re not actually going to water the plant with it. Instead, when filled with 70% alcohol, it’s great for killing any pesky bugs that have taken up residence on your favorite succulent. 

If you’re concerned that droplets will be left on the leaves and cause the plant to rot don’t worry, the high alcohol concentration will mean that any droplets left will quickly evaporate. That said though you still want to avoid spraying the leaves in direct sunlight.

Squeeze bottle or long spouted watering can

Whether you use a squeeze bottle or a watering can is up to you and your personal preference. They both have a long spout or nozzle that allows you to get the water to where it’s needed without getting the leaves wet. 

While there’s little difference between the two, the ’squeeze’ function of the bottle will allow you to precisely control the amount of water you give your plants.

A long spouted watering can is great for succulents

Container

I’m not sure if this would be classed as a tool or not but it is an absolute essential, especially if you water your plants from the bottom.

Moisture meter 

If you’re new to succulents it can be difficult to know exactly when to water your plants and when to leave them which is where a moisture meter comes in. These handy little devices take all of the guesswork out of watering succulents. Some even have pH meters too so you can make sure your soil is still producing the nutrients your plant needs.

Some moisture meters even have alarms that let you know when your plants need watering! That said though I prefer the MOOCK soil moisture meter because it’s cheap and easy to use. You can pick them up at Amazon for only a few bucks.

Gloves

You might think that gloves are a bit overkill and for most succulents they are but if you’re growing ‘spiky’ succulents such as cacti or agaves they can really help to protect your hands and fingers from the spikes or spines. If you have plants with poisonous sap, such as euphorbias, they can also help to keep the sap off of your skin.


I hope you found this article helpful. If you did I’d be grateful if you could share it please as it would really help me.

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