How to buy Houseplants

One of the keys to growing a thriving houseplant collection is to start with healthy specimens. For both the beginner and expert, knowing where to buy plants from, and how to select which plants to purchase is extremely important. Below are some general tips to follow when selecting new plants.

The Nursery
Sometimes finding a supplier can be difficult. The following are some things to look for in a nursery or plant shop.

  • Is the staff knowledgeable? Can they answer your questions and provide you with advice? Plants grown from a knowledgeable staff will be healthy and well cared for. Also a knowledgeable staff can be helpful in helping you select the right plant.
  • What condition are their plants in? Even if the particular plant you like is healthy, if many of the other plants in the store are in poor condition it is best to move on and find a different place to shop.
  • For online or mail order vendors, be especially aware of the vendor’s reputation. Also, pay attention to the size plant you are getting, and look for the shipping method and return policy.

The Plant
Selecting the right plant to buy can often be a difficult decision. Below are some key points to examine when selecting your plant.

  • Will this plant fit my conditions? Before going plant shopping, first consider what your home growing conditions (e.g. light, humidity, temperature, etc.) are like, and look for plants that fit those conditions. When shopping read the tags on the plants, and look for plants with needs that fit your home environment. If you are not sure, don’t hesitate to ask the vendor for advice.
  • Is the plant free of disease and pests? Before purchase, carefully examine the plant for signs of disease or pests. Never purchase a plant that shows any signs of sickness or pest contamination.
  • What is the condition of the leaves/stem? Does the plant have leaf burn, brown tips, dried or mushy brown leaves? Is the stem healthy and well-formed? Is the plant compact and bushy, or tall and leggy? Look for healthy plants with healthy well-formed foliage. Avoid any plants that look damaged or are missing a lot of leaves.
  • What is the condition of the roots? Take a peek at the roots. Are the roots healthy and well-formed? Does the soil smell fresh or rotten? Never purchase a plant with black or rotted roots, and beware of severely root-bound plants, or of plants with poorly developed root systems.
  • What is the soil like? Is the plant’s soil bone-dry, or is it soaking wet? Plants that are not watered may show signs of wilt, while those that are sitting in water may have developed root rot.
  • Is there new growth/flower buds? Look for plants with signs of healthy new growth. When purchasing flowers, look for ones with unopened buds so that you can enjoy the flowers for a longer period of time.

    Written by Adrienne Kleintop
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