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How to Choose The Right Plant

How to Choose The Right Plant

Let’s get it straight.  Choosing plants at the nursery, even with experience, can be daunting.  Not only do you need to try to stick to your list (if you came with one), but then also choose plants from amongst the bunch that look as if they would do more than survive but thrive.

My history is loaded with plant orphan adoption.  Usually because “orphan” means it was on sale, but it also feeds into my “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” complex.  My heart goes out to those that look as if, with a bit of TLC, I could save them from the compost pile while also gaining a new, best garden friend.  And in some cases, with a bit of patience, this has been true.  With others, not so much.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when buying plants:

  • If the leaves look healthy, the plant is probably healthy.  Liza always says, “What is up, so to is down.”  Happy leaves plus happy roots equals a happy plant.  Red flag warnings include discolored or yellowing leaves or stem, signs of insect activity or other damage.
  • Is the soil healthy?  Gaps between the pot and soil indicate inconsistent or infrequent watering.
  • Plants in flower are always a draw.  But remember, they’re just doing their job.  Don’t be fooled by a pretty face.  Choose plants that are not in flower.  Buds or no buds are better.  The flowers will come once the plant has adapted to the move.
  • Finally, as the image shows, look for a plant that is “just right”.  A large plant in a small pot can be root bound and an immature plant is just that, not ready to fend for itself out in the garden.


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