A Checklist For Picking
Plants in the Nursery
If a plant you bring home is already
sickly, damaged or infested with pests or disease, it is
only going to get worse. Most likely, it will die no matter
what you do. It could also infect other plants in your
garden. So picking plants in a nursery is primarily a
process of eliminating the unhealthy ones. Here are 8 things
to check before you buy a plant.
1. Avoid tall, spindly
plants. They did not get enough sun when young and
even if you give them lots of sun and TLC in your garden
they will never be strong. This holds true for trees as well
as smaller plants. Young trees with slender, weak trunks
that will not stand up straight without staking should be
2. Look carefully for bugs
and diseases. Turn over the leaves and look at the
bottom of them to spot pests. Mottled, discolored, or chewed
leaves are also an indicator of problems.
3. Pass up plants with
yellow leaves -- unless yellow is their natural
color. Yellowing leaves are an indication of poor plant
nutrition, among other things.
4. Steer clear of plants
with roots growing out of the pot. The plant is
already root bound and its growth may never be good. Even
root pruning may not help.
5. Do not buy plants in full
bloom. Hey, you want them to bloom in your garden
-- not in the nursery, right?
6. Watch out for plants with
wilted leaves. They could just need a drink of
water -- or it could be a symptom of something worse. Why
take a chance?
7. Avoid shrubs and trees
with broken or scarred branches
or a severely
lopsided shape. The plant may have received poor care at the
wholesale growers and you may end up paying for it later.
Shrubs and trees are big investments so don't risk your
8. Ask the staff at
the nursery: "Does this plant grow well here?" It
may seem to be an obvious question, but nurseries sell
plants that have been requested by customers or shipped out
from headquarters -- even if they are not suitable for your
climate. (Azaleas or pansies in the desert are prime examples.) If you ask direct
questions, you are likely to get a straight answers from the
employee and a suggestion or two about what will grow well