Choosing A Healthy Plant

Choosing A Healthy Plant

It’s a busy time at the garden center. Trucks roll in almost daily loaded with shrubs, trees and perennials. Soon the annuals, vegetables, tropicals and water garden plants will arrive as well. All in all, this is an exciting period for home landscapers and garden lovers!

Faced with such bounty, how do you choose one plant over another? If you follow these general guidelines you can’t go wrong:

  1. Don’t be wooed by the flowers alone. Yes, we all love color and most people will buy the shrub or perennial that is in blossom over all the others. Looking at the total plant before you make a decision, however.
  2. Look for a plant that’s strong in its pot. Be sure the trunk or stems seem sturdy.
  3. Choose a plant that has a shape that pleases you.
  4. Look at tree trunks to make sure they are relatively undamaged. Small nicks or scratches shouldn’t be a problem, but you don’t want to see any major wounds.
  5. Look to see that the foliage on the plant you’ve chosen matches the other plants. In other words, if all the shrubs or perennials in the area have shiny, green leaves, don’t pick the one plant with yellowing, dull leaves even if that one has more flowers on it.

One of the advantages of buying plants from an independent garden center is that the employees are well schooled in what a strong, healthy plant looks like. Be sure to ask for help if you’re unsure which choice to make!

OK....I admit that it was the flowers on this Camilla 'April Rose' that drew my eye. Once attracted, however, it's best to look for a well shaped, healthy plant.

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  1. Kairi Gainsborough on November 7, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    I’m planning on buying a few new plants for my garden soon, so I need to know what to look for. You tip about looking at the plant as a whole, and not just looking for the one with the most flowers, is really helpful! If it has lots of healthy leaves and branches, then it is sure to bloom bigger and better the following season, correct?

    • CLFornari on November 7, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      First of all, plants are living things and so there are no guarantees. Secondly, a plant that is purchased strong and healthy only will grow and bloom better if it’s properly planted and cared for. Watering, placing it in the ideal conditions and the proper soil for that variety is important. My question is why are you interested in it blooming “bigger” – large isn’t really the best thing to aim for in plants. Go for healthy first.

  2. Moira on February 21, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    My husband and I are redoing our landscaping and I’m so excited! I appreciate your advice to check to see if plants are sturdy in their pots at the garden center to see if they are strong plants. This is something I haven’t thought of before, but it is great advice!

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