Picking the Right Plants Key to Healthy Garden
Starting with healthy, vigorous plants is the key to a successful garden. Whether you buy plants at the grocery, a big box store or your local garden center be selective.
Look for plants with fully developed leaves. It doesn’t matter if it’s a four pack of petunias or a large shade tree. The leaves should be large and full of color. Every plant has different sized leaves. Know what you’re shopping for. Compare the plant you’re looking at to the others in the display. Buy the best developed, best leaf color you can find.
The new growth should be strong. The growth point should be growing. New leaves should be expanding. Side branches should be growing and strong too. Check for breaks or damage. Avoid tall, leggy plants. They either haven’t gotten enough light or have been in the container too long.
During the growing season, new roots should be showing. In small containers, roots may be coming out of the drain holes. Scratch into the surface of larger containers to find new, white roots. Ask a salesperson to slip the plant out of the container if you really want to check out the root system. If there aren’t enough roots to hold the soil together, don’t buy it.
Growers know color sells especially bedding plants like alyssum and geraniums. Don’t buy the plant that has more flowers than leaves. A few flowers are fine. But with too much flower the plant won’t have energy to root into your garden or container. I buy the one pack with no flowers at all. I don’t care if they don’t bloom in the store. I want them to bloom in our garden.
Most box stores and garden centers don’t grow their own plants. Most are brought in from regional growers. Ask when the next new shipment is arriving to get the freshest stock. Or buy from a local grower.
Notice how the plants are cared for at the store. If it’s haphazard with wilting and dieing plants mixed in, be careful with your choices. Even in the busyness of spring, the plants should be organized, well watered and well maintained.