Repurposed for the Garden: Forceps


The other day, while shopping in the plant section of the Montreal Botanical Garden’s gift store I came upon a long pair of forceps that a staff member must have forgotten, left sitting among the cacti.

In that moment it occurred to me, aha, yes, THIS is just the tool I need to help wrangle those spiny cactus creatures from one pot to another. No more evil, impossible to locate tiny daggers stuck in my fingers. The forceps could also be used to remove fluff and other debris from impossible to reach nooks and crannies in among the spines. I currently use a stiff bristle paintbrush but sometimes that only makes matters worse.

Yesterday afternoon I went to a surgical supply store to pick up boxes of tongue depressors for my forthcoming book launch party. No, we will not be checking your throat for swollen glands or your scalp for lice before allowing entry to the party! Although that does sound like fun.

I use the large tongue depressors as plant tags when I require a vast quantity for an event. They’re cheap at about $.03 each and can go into the compost bin at the end of the season.

While there, I perused the cabinet of surgical steel tools and low and behold, for 10 bucks they had the same type of 10″ forceps I was admiring at the garden shop.

It wasn’t my idea and I’m probably the last known gardener to come around to this, yet scoring the forceps somehow makes me feel like a bit of a genius and slightly more readied for a minor medical emergency.

If you’re looking online, I found this pair for half the price I paid.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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15 thoughts on “Repurposed for the Garden: Forceps

  1. Hey I have one of those! Use it for planting plants in terrariums. I didn’t know they were forceps though – I call them “giant tweezers”.

  2. When I transplant cacti I just wrap a strip of newspaper (several layers thick) around the cactus and use the loose ends as a handle. I works really well and you don’t have to worry about puncturing the stem with tweezers or other transplanting implements.

  3. Dissekt-Rite is an awesome name for a company. I don’t have any cacti, but I almost want to buy the Dissekt-Rite Specimen Forceps, 10 inch just because of that.

    Except…now that I look again, I’m disturbed because it’s sold through Amazon by PetStore. Sufficiently scared.

  4. The giant tweezers are awesome. I have a pair that came with the bonsai tools. They’re great to picking up, killing, or moving bugs you don’t want to touch.

  5. I just stabbed myself really badly on a baby agave yesterday! If I only knew then what I know now….. thanks! Now let me look for those bbq tongs….

  6. I use those all the time but sometimes if I’ve forgotten where I last put them I will go and get some sellotape and use that to get the spines off my hands.

  7. I use long tweezer with an angled end bought at Harbor Freight (cheap) to sort seeds from chaff and to plant them in my seed cups. No more fighting with my big fat fingerrs to get the seeds where I want them.

  8. Another great tool to use with prickly plants is tongs. If you need to pick up a 2″ to 4″ prickly from amongst a tray of it’s friends tongs are great.

    When transplanting cactus I usually wrap it up in an old towel like it is wearing a turbin, use enough layers so the padding is as deep as the spines. To be extra safe I use thick gloves or in a pinch oven mitts to wrangle the cacti encased ball of fabric.

  9. We use them in the flower shop to remove the staimens from lilies that stain so badly. We also get ours at Harbor Frieght and call them Giant Tweezers. I love the latin terminology everyone put in. By the way removing the staimens from the cut lilies not only protects you from staining your face when you try to smell them hehe they also last longer when the pollen dust stays off the petals.

  10. Awesome tips! I’m new to gardening- I started my first garden in the little sprouter pods just in case. I planted swiss chard, green onion, bell pepper, radishes, sweet williams, poppies, carnations, and columbines FIVE days ago and my radishes already have a good 6 inch sprout on them! :] I could’ve used the tweezersae giganticae for distributing my seeds like Phillip, but alas… I did not think of it…

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