The Best Houseplant Tools and Accessories, According to Plant Expert Hilton Carter

From sharp pruning shears to nutrient-rich soil, these are the nine essentials you need to thrive as an indoor plant parent.

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February 01, 2024

Here at HGTV, we consider Hilton Carter to be nothing short of a genius with a green thumb. An author, director, editor, and artist with a passion for plants, Hilton has gained over half a million Instagram followers for his gorgeous snaps, plant styling tips and informative “Did You Know” series. Over the years, he’s written four books, with another — The Propagation Handbook: A Guide to Propagating Houseplants — set to debut on April 9, 2024. In the meantime, the Baltimore-based plant pro sat down with HGTV to reveal nine houseplant essentials.

21 Questions With Hilton Carter

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Pruning Shears

“There are a lot of great gardening tools out there, and it can be overwhelming to have to choose one,” Hilton admits. However, when it comes to tending to houseplants, pruning shears are a must, he says.

Releasing nationwide and at target.com April 2024.

Releasing nationwide and at target.com April 2024.

Photo by: Ryan Rhodes

Ryan Rhodes

As part of an exciting upcoming collaboration, Hilton plans to release his own pruning shears, which he promises will be just as functional as they are stylish, later this year.

Since those shears won’t be out for some time, we suggest the Barebones Walnut Scissors. They come in a similar shape to Hilton’s forthcoming shears and tout hundreds of positive reviews.

Another option? The Modern Sprout Gardening Shears, which Hilton has been seen using throughout his Instagram grid. The mint green shears stand out for their retro appearance, ultra-sharp blade, ergonomic grip and safety-lock feature.

No matter which shears you choose, Hilton says picking a pair with sharp blades is a must, as it simplifies the pruning process.

Garden Trowel

When working with houseplants, you may think that using your hands or even a large spoon or serving spoon will suffice for planting. While they could, Hilton recommends using an actual soil shovel for best results. “I personally like the Barebones Garden Scoop because [it is] great quality and very durable,” he says. “It has an organic walnut handle with a stainless steel, rust-resistant metal.” Thanks to the high-quality materials, Hilton says that this garden towel can be used for life if taken care of properly. “It is also light to handle and very accessible when planting small to medium plants,” he adds.

Watering Cans

Releasing nationwide and at target.com April 2024.

Releasing nationwide and at target.com April 2024.

Photo by: Ryan Rhodes

Ryan Rhodes

“A well-designed watering can is a combination of both form and function,” Hilton says. While he’s used a variety of watering cans over the years, he also has a stylish, minimalist watering can in the works as part of the upcoming collaboration. The watering can will be available in metal and ceramic options. “It’s a minimalist design that fits into the decor of any home, and one you can have sitting amongst your plants as a gentle reminder to water your plants,” he explains. “The process of watering my plants is a zen, centering experience for me, and a stylish watering can just adds to the serenity.”

If you need a new watering can sooner rather than later, you can apply Hilton’s function and form principle to the category as a whole. The Homarden 40 oz. Copper-Colored Indoor Plant Watering Can is a fan favorite for its chic copper design and ultra-thin spout that works as well for watering plants of all sizes.

Pots and Planters

If you scroll through Hilton’s Instagram, you’ll see that he often has stacks of terracotta planters in all different sizes lining his space. While he uses the classic pot frequently, when it comes to stand-out plant displays, he has a few favorites.

“I love to support small businesses whenever I can, especially when their products are handmade,” Hilton says, noting that Fay Ray Clay, a woman-owned business operating out of Los Angeles, California, is one of his go-to sources. (As of this writing, the pots are currently sold out online.)

“I love the design of the [Fay Ray Clay] planters because of their uniqueness and traditional craftsmanship,” he shares. “I love decorating with Mexican accents in my home, and these pots compliment my style nicely. Fay Ray Clay is also mindful to add drainage holes which is super important for plant health and avoiding root rot.”

Hilton also loves Cay Ceramics, a handmade ceramics brand based in his home city of Baltimore. “Caylyn makes beautiful small batch pottery inspired by a minimalistic Scandinavian and Japanese style,” he says. “Her products are sustainable and functional.” (As of this writing, the pots are currently sold out online.)

Plant Stands

Plant stands elevate the appearance of any plant. They also help reach ideal light levels, as well as keep the floor clear in the event you have curious kids or pets. According to Hilton, any simple plant stand will do, so long as it can help you achieve the height of your preference. “I love the Iron Black Plant Stand from Target's line of Room Essentials because of its simplicity and functionality,” he says. “It adds a few inches to a plant if you need it to be raised up slightly, and it is very affordable. It [also] works for indoor or outdoor settings and blends nicely with surrounding decor.”

Grow Lights

If you have less than stellar sunlight in your space, Hilton suggests outfitting it with grow lights. “Soltech Solution lights are the first thing that comes to mind when I think of recommending grow lights,” he says, noting that they’re a high-quality, sustainable, and American-made brand. “Their design is aesthetically pleasing, so incorporating lighting into your home is easy and stress-free. They even have a lighting quiz on their website to help you find the best product for your situation.”

Soil

In addition to a proper pot and optimal light, plants need stellar soil to thrive.

“Rosy Soil is my go-to,” Hilton says. “Some may think that all potting soil is natural and comes directly from the earth, but unfortunately there are some soil brands out there with very unsustainable practices and ingredients.” That’s not the case with Rosy Soil. “Rosy Soil’s mission is to make the highest quality soil with the lowest possible environmental footprint, and their peat-free soil is designed to help gardeners grow plants without harming nature,” he says. “They have a soil variety for all of your houseplants, including tropical, desert and seedling.”

Fertilizer

Just like people need certain nutrients to look and feel their best, plants do, too. That’s where fertilizer comes into play. “Flourish Fertilizer is a great, sustainable option for feeding your plants,” Hilton says, noting that it’s derived from sustainable sources like fish and corn discards, without any unpleasant smells in the process. “Its organic, all-purpose plant food is chock full of naturally derived micro- and macronutrients, perfect for giving my plants that boost of energy it needs during the growing season.”

Humidifiers

If you look closely, you’ll notice a humidifier amongst Hilton’s many plants in some of his Instagram posts. “Humidifiers are a great way to keep your plants healthy and thriving, especially those tropical plants like calatheas and ferns who need extra humidity,” he says. “I have the 6L Levoit Classic 300S Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier in white. One feature I love about this product is that it comes with an app you can download. Through the app, you can control humidity and mist power right from your phone. This is great for when I’m traveling and want to make sure my plants are getting what they need.”

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