Read This Before Buying a Plant at the Garden Center
When buying a plant at the garden center, use these expert tips to get the most bang for your buck every time you go shopping.
A trip to the garden center when buying a plant can be exhilarating—or overwhelming. Try these tried-and-true tips for a thought-out shopping excursion, with expert advice from Proven Winners’ Jessica DeGraaf.
Before Buying a Plant, Know Your Needs
Jessica compares buying a plant to grocery shopping. “You select a meal and list out the ingredients needed. Gardening is much the same,” she says. Plan ahead to avoid impulse buys that can turn into pricey mistakes. Take stock of your available space, and know your soil, light and water requirements.
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Read Plant Tags Carefully
Plant tags offer a wealth of critical information. Carefully check the available details to be sure you can meet a plant’s needs and to find out how big it will get. You don’t want to wind up with a 10-foot-tall shrub in a space meant for smaller blooms.
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Check the Plant’s Roots
When possible, take a quick peek at a plant’s roots. “A healthy plant should be rooted to the bottom of the container, and you should see nice white roots throughout the soil ball,” Jessica says. Avoid buying pot-bound plants, where the roots are wrapped tightly around themselves.
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Buy Plants with Flower Buds
Flowers with existing blooms draw the eye, but unless you need instant color in your garden, Jessica suggests looking for plants with healthy foliage and lots of buds. That way, you’ll have gorgeous blooms for weeks to come.
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Follow the Insects
If you’re planning to grow a butterfly garden, let insects show you the way to the best picks with blooms. Take a step back at the garden center to see which plants the butterflies and bees are visiting, and add those to your cart.
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Make Your Money Count
“If you’re looking for ways to save a buck, look for plants that have long bloom times or are more vigorous,” Jessica says. “Plants such as Supertunias grow up to 3 feet wide in the landscape. This means that you can plant fewer plants and still get maximum impact.”
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Check the Bargain Racks
Many stores have racks with plants that are past their prime, and you can score some real deals if you’re willing to search. These plants are often in great shape but have been moved to the back to make room for new shipments. You just never know what you might find.
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Get Plant Buying Advice from Staff
“If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask,” Jessica says. “Garden center staff want to help you on your plant journey, because their success is tied to yours.” Go during a slower time of day or week to ask them for their favorite picks, and find out when they expect new plants.
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