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How to Pick the Perfect Nursery Plant

How to Pick the Perfect Nursery Plant

Does that actually grow here? Can it be planted now?

Whether you are shopping at a big box store or a local nursery for your plants, there is a possibility that there will be plants being sold that do not fare too well in your region. Here in the desert for example, our nurseries are filled with tropical plants. Tropical plants can do very well here because of the mild winters, but the hot summers and limited humidity can be unfavorable for certain plants and trees and they may never flower or produce fruit. If you are unsure about a plant it is always best to do some research, also reach out on social media plant groups for your area, and ask people about their specific insight to growing certain plants in your area.

Be aware also that even though a plant is currently being sold at the store or nursery, it doesn’t mean that it’s the ideal time to plant it. An especially prolific culprit of mis-timed plants is the vegetable areas at big box store nurseries. There are very often vegetable transplants that are being sold in the completely wrong growing season. A general rule is that evergreens and trees should be planted early fall or early spring after fear of frost has passed. For annuals and tropical plants late spring is usually best. For vegetable growing, consult a planting calendar for your area to get the best idea of what vegetables to grow in the fall versus the spring/summer.

What size plant should I get?

Often at nurseries, especially with trees, we are given a variety of plant sizes to choose from. It can be a tad overwhelming to anticipate how much it will grow, how fast, and at what price you are getting the best deal. If you go to a local nursery and ask an associate how old the plants are at each stage they will be able to give you a good estimate, this can help you decide how much safe you will need to reserve for growth, how fast you might have fruit production, or how much money you can save if you get one option over the other. One thing to consider is that nurseries will often transplant their plants to larger containers if they outgrow their current pot. This is something to be mindful of because if you purchase a plant in a larger pot that was recently potted up, it may be the same size and have the same size root system as a plant in a smaller pot. If this is the case, you may be paying more for the plant in the larger pot simply because it is now in a larger pot. If you are at a nursery that has the same plants in multiple pot sizes, do your best to compare the sizes. Remember that the same plants may not always be in the same area, so keep an eye out for the plant you like in different sizes.

Another tip when buying a plant at the nursery is to look at the bottom of the pot, if you see little roots beginning to emerge from the pot’s drainage holes, this is a great sign that the root system of this plant is developed and that the plant hasn’t been recently transplanted.

3 Tips to know if the plant is healthy

The great thing about nurseries is that they often have some kind of assurance that the plant you are leaving with is healthy.

Oftentimes big box store nurseries will have lengthy return policies in case your plant does not survive the season. But to make it simple to pick out the best plant here are a few tips.

Tip #1:

Always check the conditions of the leaves. If leaves are yellow or brown at the tips, in between the leaf’s veins or are completely yellow, this indicates that the plant is most likely suffering from poor watering conditions, too much sun, or a lack of nutrients. If you are unsure if there is enough to cause concern, look at the newest growth coming from the plant. If the new growth looks green and healthy, this can be an indication to you that the plant probably was stressed out, but is now recovering and producing healthy new growth.

Tip #2:

Check the moisture of the soil. One of the biggest culprits in this area is the cactus and succulents areas at big box stores. These plants are very susceptible to over-watering and often get the same watering schedule as their green plant neighbors, this can be terrible for their health. Overwatering of any plant can cause root rot, fungus gnats, and damage to the plant’s internal structures. When buying a plant, the soil should be moist but not soggy. If there is any part of the plant that is exhibiting rot or fungus, the whole plant has been compromised and you should not purchase that one.

Tip #3:

Examine the surrounding plants. There is a good chance that if you have to search to find that one good plant in the bunch, it will end up having the same problems that the others are exhibiting. Disease in plants can spread from one plant to another, especially in the close quarters they are kept in at nurseries.

When adding plants to your garden or landscape, make sure to do your research, ask around for help, and examine all the cules the plant is telling you! These tips will help you find the best nursery plant out there!

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