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University of Minnesota Extension

Holiday gift ideas for your favorite gardener

As is tradition, our Extension horticulture team members from around the state have come up with their favorite gift ideas for the gardeners in your life.

We wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season!

Grow lights

Small plants on black trays with grids illuminated by a narrow purple light clamped to the table edge.

Providing sufficient light for your houseplants — especially in a small space — can be a real challenge. Grow lights for small spaces provide extra lighting for your indoor plants and when starting seeds.

Most use LEDs, so they use less electricity and stay cooler. And there are many sizes and styles available. Look for lights that have built-in timers and controls for adjusting the color and intensity or brightness.

LED grow lights can be purchased online and at local garden centers. Combine these lights with a humidity tray (as shown here) and you will have a good growing environment for your houseplants.

Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator, horticulture

Garden tools

A hand sickle lying next to a garden knife on top of a fence.
An “usugama” hand sickle (top) and a “hori-hori” knife (below)

Multipurpose tools are always going to be useful in the garden, whether the growing season is a challenge or a joy.

Hand sickles can be used in weed control, harvesting, or keeping overgrown herbs and cover crops in check. I prefer to use the Japanese-style “usugama” hand sickle with a straighter blade than other similarly sized sickles.

Another Japanese garden tool I am a big fan of is a hand trowel-knife combination called a “hori-hori.” While it can be used to dig out weeds and harvest produce, it can double as a planting aid.

Most versions of these tools are $30 or below and require a minimal amount of maintenance.

Shane Bugeja, Extension educator, Blue Earth and Le Sueur counties


Various seed packets decorated with colorful art lying on a wooden table.

For a small but personal gift, consider giving seeds to your loved ones this year. I like to pick out a plant that best fits each person: sunflowers for my bright and cheerful grandparent, Echinacea for my nurturing cousin, radishes for my spicy sibling, or snap peas for a sweet and dependable friend.

More and more seed companies are creating packet labels with beautiful art, which makes a gift like this even more fun.

You could also decorate your own envelopes and share some seeds from your garden.

Natalie Hoidal, Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops

Minnesota Harvester Handbook

Cover of the Minnesota Harvester Handbook.

If you or someone you know likes to gather fruits, nuts and other forest products from Minnesota’s woodlands, the Minnesota Harvester Handbook makes a wonderful gift.

Developed by University of Minnesota Extension, the Minnesota Harvester Handbook is an excellent resource for wild gatherers. This field guide showcases sustainable harvest and gathering methods for more than 20 familiar (and some unusual) non-timber forest products. With a wide variety of decorative and edible forest products, including syrup, berries, boughs and mushrooms, there is plenty to keep your favorite forager busy all year.

— Colleen Carlson, Extension educator, Carver and Scott counties

Membership to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Landscape in fall with a red barn and silo in the distance.
The Red Barn at the MN Landscape Arboretum

It’s a cool gift any time of year - and it always fits! As an Arboretum member, your favorite gardener receives free admission and discounts on purchases in the Arb gift shop and the apple house as well as on rentals such as snowshoes

They can expand their gardening minds with discounts on events, classes and workshops (many taught by Extension educators).

Members also receive the timely Arboretum magazine and e-news as well as reciprocal admission to other public gardens.

The cherry on top: membership supports the Arboretum’s mission to welcome, inform and inspire all through outstanding displays, protected natural areas, horticultural research and education.

Visit the Arb website to find out more about becoming a member.

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