Looking for small pruners (the kind to use for deadheading or light pruning) as mine seem to all have disappeared. Any brand recommendations, or will any do?
No, they vary. Greatly.
Felcos, much sworn by and little sworn at by members of this gardening community, are also in my experience the best, though among the more expensive. They're worth it, especially if you're not prone to losing them. There are other good brands, but I can't give names since we probably have different ones here (Due Bue, anyone?). I've found that the better ones cost more than the cheaper ones, that is, there's a correspondence between price and quality. It's worth it to get good pruners.
Wildflower Seed and Tool company sells pruners that you may want to check out. I have their Telescopic Pruner that not only cuts the stem off but hangs onto it so you can put it in your trash basket.
The unit also has a sliding hand hold that makes moving the tool very easy.
To adjust the length you just press in small 'buttons' on the tube.
They come in different adjustable lengths
I love my Bahco "ERGO" pruners, of which I have three (can therefore always find at least one). Less expensive than Felcos but still a high-quality product, made in France.
I have been using my Felco pruners for 20 plus years! Blades can sharpened, parts can replaced, if needed, but mine have held up without repairs and even survived my husband using them on the fruit trees! Forty bucks well spent!
I have Felcos though I have also considered getting a pair of Bahcos after reading a review in Fine Gardening magazine which praised them highly. However Bahcos are more difficult to find. I have also used Corona, okay but I like Felcos better. Don't get cheap ones, and make sure they are bypass not anvil types.
I have Felco No.2 which are, unfortunately, too big for me to use comfortably - although they are very good. I also have a much older (at least 20 years) pair of Felco No. 5 that I seem to be able to use without a problem.
Ever since I saw Monty Don's list of 'the world's best gardening tools' I've wondered what the Japanese Tobisho Secateurs/Pruners are like to get such a great write up. They are, however, eye-wateringly expensive.
I have Flecos, Fiskars, and a couple of other no name brands. They all work but my favorite pair is my Mother's old metal ones from the 60s. The name disappeared off of them years ago so I can't tell you. They probably don't make them any more anyways because, like I said, they're all metal and no plastic. Both the Flecos and Fiskars work pretty well. I got the Felco #7s. They're smaller and have the rotating handle. That some times is a nuisance though helpful for hand fatigue. The Fiskars are all plastic except for the blades and are very light weight but I've noticed that some of the plastic pieces are wearing and they're getting sloppy. I might look for a new pair this year.
For deadheading and light pruning you don't really need heavy duty pruners. Check out grapevine snips like these Felcos. LIght and relatively inexpensive.
Here is a link that might be useful: Felco picking and trimming snips
I have both Felco and an old Wilkinson (spelling?). The Wilkinson is heavier and can cut thicker branches. I only wish that I could replace the blades as they are slightly sprung - all that heavy pruning. The Felco is lighter and now as I get older, I'm beginning to really appreciate that feature. Love them both.
What are the best French secateurs?
I have both Felco #6s and Bahco small/medium for comparison. I wanted to love the Bahcos because they are less expensive, but I don't. Felcos cut like butter and keep their edge longer. They are the best I've tried!
I got a pair of Okatsune pruners last year because we love the Silky Fox pruning saws. The nicest secateurs I have ever used.
I would recommend Barnel B7 pruners. They are extremely lightweight and they have a toggle at your thumb so you can lock it to 1/2" or 1" diameter depending on if you are doing serious pruning or just deadheading.
I have a friend who runs a rose nursery down here in the south and I helped her one day with spring pruning a few weeks ago and ended up using a pair of her barnel pruners and my hands were not achy after hours of pruning. I had brought an expensive pair from lowes with me that are nice, but heavy and with a large spread that tires out my hands quickly and I was instantly in love with these Barnels. I bought a pair the next week and haven't regretted it. They are in the ~$40 range. They trump Felco's according to the nursery owner especially if you have a lot to deadhead and prune.
A landscaping couple out of Atlanta sells them and swears by them: Therosegardener . com if you are interested. I don't know if you can purchase them elsewhere. I'm a lady with average size hands, the B7 were perfect for me, and the B8 if you have larger hands.
Felco #2. I've owned 2 pairs for nigh on 25 years. Yes, the same two. With the holster, I'm like an old west gunslinger--quick and neat. Why two Felcos?So I can always find at least one. I've also owned a pair of Sandvik loppers for, gosh, 20 years? I think Sandvik purchased Bahco so those two companies are identical now. Both kinds--Felco and Sandvik--still perform beautifully! Carol