It can be extremely disappointing to purchase plants for your garden and have them keel over, dead, after a day or two in the ground. It’s true that sometimes this happens because of your error, but most of the time this happens to a plant because of its health.
This being the case, there are a few things you want to keep in mind as you go about choosing plants for your garden. Use these tips to help you choose healthy plants for your outdoor garden:
1. The Source. Consider the place from which you are buying your plants. Is this an established nursery with a track record of healthy plants, or is it a fly-by-night operation? One nice way of finding out if the nursery or garden store is a solid operation is to look for how they water their plants.
Good, established nurseries usually have their plants arranged on long, flat tables. To reduce the work load, they will then have pipes arranged so that they can simply turn on a valve and have all the plants watered with a gentle shower at the same time. If you see people wandering around with watering cans, that is a red flag. It’s not a deal breaker, but be sure to examine your plants thoroughly.
2. The Look. Examine that plant. Look closely at the leaves: are they brown, curling or are there parts that look like the waxy surface has been scraped off? If so, don’t buy the plants. How about the stem? Does the plant stand up straight or is it drooping?
Also look at the soil. If the soil is dry and there is a gap between it and the plant’s pot, the plant might be undernourished. Soil should be slightly moist and fairly loose. You should also be able to detect slow-release fertilizer in the soil, if the nursery is worth its salt.
If the plant is a type that blooms, check for those blooms. If the plant is already flowering, you want to usually avoid it. This usually means that the plant has been through some distress and now it thinks it needs to send out its flowers.
3. The Smell. Seriously. When selecting plants, it can be a good idea to take a deep whiff of the plant and its pot. The plant is healthy if you smell a rich, thick aroma of soil and often a gentle tang of the plant.
An unhealthy plant will often smell slightly of rot. To check this, move some soil aside sniff at the base of the plant. Ignore the funny looks you’re getting. If you don’t smell healthy soil, choose a different plant, or choose a different store.
You can also gently rub a leaf and then smell it. Most plants have a slightly tangy aroma to their leaves. If you smell something that reminds you of rot or old lemons, you ought to choose a different plant or store. Use these three tips when selecting plants for your outdoor garden, or even your indoor garden, and you shouldn’t go wrong. Have fun and good luck!