What Should You Look for When You Buy New Plants?

VIGOR

Don’t buy a droopy-looking, insect-infested, sick plant. Unless the plant has naturally yellow or variegated foliage (You can tell by the name, “Golden” or “Varigated”), the leaves should not be yellowing or mottled. 

SMALL SIZE

Do you think a big plant in a small pot is a deal? Think again. Pull the plant out of its container and check for circling or large bent roots. A few circlers are O.K. if they are small, but a lot of them can create a problem that the plant will never outgrow. Small is better.

ENVIRONMENTAL NEEDS

What are the water, soil, and shade requirements for the plant? Does it tolerate wind and frost (if you live in areas prone to these factors)?  Do you have enough room to accommodate the ultimate size of the plant?

MAINTENANCE NEEDS

Do you have the manpower to maintain it properly? Often, people buy plants that get too large for their area. They either have to be trimmed frequently, or ripped out.

FUNCTIONAL NEEDS

For what purpose will the plant be used? Eye candy (flowers), neighbor barrier (thorns), foundation planting (sturdy evergreen), accent (unique), edible (home grown), etc.?

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Plants are usually sold by the container size: one gallon, five gallon, 15 gallon, 24-inch box, etc. If you can wait a year or two, planting smaller sized plants allows for better rooting, easier planting, and you can save yourself some money. Typically, the younger and/or smaller the plant, the faster its growth rate. If you were to plant a one gallon and a five gallon of the same species at the same time, the one gallon will “catch up” to the five gallon in size in a matter of one to three years for most plant species. 

Resist the urge to overplant! Your landscape may look sparser than you want for the first couple of years, but in the long run this will save you time and money.