Before Buying Plants

Buying Plants

When shopping for plants of any kind, you should have in mind where you plan to put these plants, and be able to describe the kind of sun, northern or southern, direct or shade, and the temperature conditions. Ask questions of the garden center clerks such as:

How long will it bloom?

Will it rebloom within the year?

Will it drop leaves?

Is it fragile or durable?

Dose it like to dry out now and then, or not?

What is the watering schedule?

How damp should I keep the soil?

Is it an indoor or outdoor plant?


Plant buying rules of thumb:

Look for flowers that are not blooming, but are about to do so. Blooms mean that the plant has been growing in that confined space for a long time and it may be stressed out, a few blooms may be needed to judge color. Avoid woody, thick stems on small plants. Look for signs of disease: Yellow leaves or leaves with brown edges are typical, though one or two bad leaves may be acceptable. Avoid plants with wilted leaves, or ones that are tall and spindly, look for compact and sturdy plants. Roots should not be poking out of the holes in the bottom of the pot, and there should be no weeds growing in it.

The better plant buys at local garden centers are bedding annuals and vegetable seedling using garden maintenance services.

Plant bargains are not worth the money you save if the plant dies soon after you get it home. They are only bargains if you really know what you are doing.


Shrubs and Trees

Buying Tips:

One of the first things to look for is a shrub or tree that appears balanced. If a specimen has symmetry, you’re on the right track. Check to see that no weeds or grass is growing on the burlap root ball or container. Check for wounds and any splitting where the branches join the trunk. Remember to remove any plastic string that is binding the ball when you plant it – only natural jute should be left on to disintegrate in the ground.

Research before you buy: Some trees or shrubs need lots of care or drop potentially annoying seedpods. Most shrubs want well-drained soil with some full sun.

Plan the placement to be rearranged anyway. Plan the placement very carefully by determining the plant’s mature size, both in height and width. You’ll probably have to plant them a bit farther apart than you originally though so they can fill in naturally and not hit the house or each other. The time and plan very carefully. Be sure to arrange for delivery at a convenient time so you can get your trees and shrubs in properly placed and sized holes.

Don’t forget to have a good water source, the right fertilizer, and plenty of peat moss and humus on hand for planting. Make sure that trees have no roots broken off, are delivered with proper containers or bur lapped balls, and are staked sturdily once they are planted.


To determine the right type of Seed for you, first look at the front and back of the package to find the basic information as to what kind of light is needed, when to plant, and germination time, and to get a feel for the general ease of cultivation of the item.


Seeds with germination times over twenty-one days are usually very difficult for the home gardener to grow, because of the need to maintain uniform soil conditions, temperatures, and moisture levels during the entire period.


Many flowers and vegetables do better in the garden if they are started indoors and then transplanted as seedlings. Check the package for these recommendations. In addition to sowing instructions, the seed packet also have a test date? This usually indicates the month and year in which the seed was last tested for percentage of germination, or the percent of seeds that will eventually grow into plants. The test date should be in the current year and the germination rate should be around 90%.

The seed packet may also give information on the use of the seeds in container gardening.


Vegetable Seeds

The first thing you should look for on the seed packet are the planting and maturing times. It may say plant


These vegetable seeds in doors in February or March and transplant in April or May or when temperature reaches a constant 70 degrees. If you don’t have the space or time to plant these seeds indoors you can usually buy the same plants as seeding at any garden shop in April or May. Some vegetable plants that are better purchased as seedlings are tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.


If the seed packet says plant directly in the garden when the soil has warmed up in late spring, it is considerably cheaper to buy the seed rather than seedlings. Some plants that can started from seed in late spring are cucumbers, squash, sunflowers, pole and bush beans, and corn.

Other seeds that can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked are cabbage, boc choy, kale, and collard greens others are lettuce, peas, radishes, and many other leafy green vegetables all called cold crops.

During the summer season, heat tolerant plants such as tomatoes and peppers can be planted in the same place that the cold crops grew. Cold crop vegetable seedscan be planted again in early fall to extend the garden season up until hard frost time.


Flower Seeds

Growing flowering plants from seed is not costly. Flower seed packets usually cost under $3 so if nothing grows it is not a great loss.

There are three types of flowers: annuals, biennial, and perennials.

Annuals are plants that grow, bloom, and set seed in one growing season, they bloom continuously during the season and then die. These plants do not survive, or overwinter, in areas where the winter temperature dip below freezing. However, annuals are the easiest flowers to grow from seed.

Biennials are plants that grow in the wild for one season without blooming and then bloom during the season, after which they die. Once established in a garden, however, biennials often self-seed and then grow and produce a succession of blooming plants for many years to come. Biennials are a much-neglected flower that is a fine addition to almost any flower bed or border.

Perennials are plants that are winter hardy, meaning they will survive cold winters (that is their roots survive, while their tops die off) and grow and bloom in the garden for many years; different plants blooming at different times of the season. Perennials can also be purchased as grown plants.

Growing flowers from seed is highly recommended, if only for the fun of it.

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