Buying some Rose Gauntlet Gloves

July 8, 2021

Rose Gauntlet Gloves for Thorn Protection in the Garden

The Problem:

The problem is injuries from thorns in the garden that can result in infections.

The picture above shows why we need protective gloves in our gardens. The upright plants in the front are Agave with sharp spikes. The plants just behind are Bougainvillea, some of which can hurt just as much.

Why is this a problem?

All gardeners know that the punctures hurt!

The real problem is infections.

The Agave sap can cause a rash, burning, and irritation of the skin. (In the American southwest, these injuries are sufficiently common that I found medical research studies about them.)

The rose and its relatives such as blackberries and raspberries have a fungus on their prickles that gets into your bloodstream. The thorns of the bougainvillea are toxic. They have a substance that can cause contact dermatitis. Older gardeners and people with immune system issues are most at risk.

“we can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Abraham Lincoln

We want to have it both ways -enjoy the flowers and fruits but avoid the injuries too!

We want protection from thorns, spines, and prickles. Thorns are modified branches, they are on hawthorn, barberry, gooseberry, bougainvillea. Spines are modified leaves; they are on succulents. Prickles are outgrowths of the plant’s epidermis you will notice that they are located on the stem, not the leaves.

The Solution

Part One: Control the Plants When you Can

There are two ways to lessen the potential discomfort. In some cases, you can change the plants.  Agave has sharp spines. We cut them off, it does not hurt the plant and they don’t grow back. As new leaves grow you will need to cut those spines also.  

Some newer varieties of bougainvillea are bred to have no thorns or fewer thorns. We planted the variety called Miss Alice (also sold as Singapore White, Mauna Kea White or Moonlight). It has very few or no thorns, is semi-dwarf in size and does not climb.  

The Bougainvillea Silhouette is lilac, it does climb and is advertised as thornless also.

Part Two: Protection from Thorns

Most of the time if we want a plant which has thorns, we need to deal with them.

Next, we bought rose gauntlet gloves for the best protection. We looked for the best combination of a tough exterior, durability, and flexibility in the hand. I read a lot of reviews. A lot of good gardeners have their favorites. These worked out well for us.

The Details:

  • These are called Rose Gauntlet gloves. The brand we bought is called Mud Gloves. The features that keep us safe from our plants are these:
  • A long cowhide gauntlet reaching from the wrist to the elbow. If you need to reach into the bushes this is very effective. The cowhide is thick and stiff enough so that it stays firmly over the arm and does not fold down.

       There is a tab at the end of the gauntlet to hang the gloves.  This is not important to us, but some people say that if they are not visible they forget to use them.

  • A wrist strap, which you can tighten, to keep debris out of the glove, and it should prevent the glove from sliding off while you are reaching into the bush. When this happens, it is not fun!
  • The gauntlet is wide enough that a long-sleeved shirt can be worn. We garden in Florida; it is a beautiful environment, but it is the skin cancer capital of the continent. We use long-sleeved shirts with UV protection.
  • The hand is made of goatskin which is considered in all the literature I can find to be the best material for thorn protection on the hand. It has a soft feel, good flexibility and the lanolin keeps it feeling soft.  There is a protective reinforcement at the base of the thumb, it is contoured front and back to the wrist. The hand is a good combination of flexibility and protection.

It is not flawless. We experienced one stick in the back of the hand. If the glove hand is not flexible and we cannot feel accurately there is a strong temptation to take them off…just this once. That’s why we think these hands are a good combination of protection and comfort.

  • The size guide online shows the measurements and the fit was accurate for us.

Care of the Product:

The manufacturers recommend wiping the gloves after use with a dry cloth. If washing is required, they suggest wiping with warm water, damp cloth and a mild hand or leather soap and dry. They don’t recommend full immersion washing. So far in my research I have not found a leather glove that suggests full washing.

Why leather if we can’t wash it? Checklists of “best thornproof gauntlet gloves”. I found no synthetic gloves on any of the “best” lists. There are a few synthetics out there, but we are buying for safety.

Price: these cost $24.95 from Gardener’s Supply in Vermont. You can spend less or more, from the mid-teens to about $50.00. I would say it depends on the trade-offs you find worth making.

These seem to be suited to heavy, abrasive jobs. We have a lawn service but like to do our own trimming and the gloves work well for bagging lawn waste especially big palm fronds.

What are the “cons”?

If it’s possible to have padding on the back of the hand without impairing the flexibility that would be perfect. I have not found it yet. The glove comes in 3 sizes. I saw a few brands with more sizes. Those are more expensive. We chose to err on the side of roominess. (If you have arthritis in your hands roomy is advised, you should appreciate the lanolin also,) Ours are light colors, dark would show less dirt.

The purchase decision: We wanted in this order, safety from injury, comfort in the hand, and durability. This dictated the features we bought and led us to this price point.

Happy Gardening!