When shopping for new plants or flowers for your garden, it’s important to look for the healthiest ones possible to ensure successful transplants. Whether it be annuals, perennials or vegetables, the appearance of the plant is critical in determining a plant’s health. The prettiest plant in a store or nursery isn’t necessarily the healthiest one. There are several things you should look for when considering a new plant purchase, and by making sure the plants you take home are robust and in good health, they will suffer less shock and stress during transplanting, and grow much faster.
* Look for well-shaped, clean foliage bright in color. Be sure leaves and stem are free of signs of disease and insects such as spider mites or mealy bugs. Avoid plants that have leaves with abrasions, spotting, leaf-edge burn, breaks or other damage, which possibly means the plant is dying.
* Plants should have a full, bushy structure. Avoid tall, spindly plants. Plants that have weeds growing in the same pot should be avoided as well, indicating compromised growth.
* The most important part of a plant is its roots. If roots look to be in poor shape, the likelihood of the plant being healthy is low. Carefully inspect the roots by gently easing the plant from its container. You should be looking for a strong network of whitish roots that nearly fills the planter, and binds the soil together. Roots should not be showing above the soil surface. Reject plants with roots that are brown or soft. If roots are thick and have a little soil, it probably means this plant is beyond its prime. Plants with only a few roots and with soil that falls away easily have not yet reached their prime. If you buy them, its best to grow them longer in their original containers for several more weeks before transplanting.
* Flowering plants should have fresh, tight buds. Although a plant in full bloom is lovely, if it’s fully flowered when you buy it, once its in your garden you probably won’t see it bloom again until the following year. Plants without blooms suffer less transplant than those with blooms. Plants with tightly-formed buds should bloom in about two weeks after transplanting.
* Do not purchase any plants from a nursery or store if the general health of its entire stock looks sickly. Ask how long annuals and perennials have been in stock. Plants that reside in a nursery for a very long time can be exposed to many pests. If you see any destructive insects ANYWHERE in the plant department, its likely that all the plants may have already be infested.
Once you have selected the healthy plants you want and bring them home, allow them to acclimatize for a bit by placing them in the shade, then gradually expose them to their appropriate lighting. Keep well watered until you are ready to plant, which is recommended you do on an overcast day.
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