Garden Center Purchases: How To Choose Your Plants?

Garden centers offer a wide variety of plants with attractive shapes and colors that make you want to buy everything. However, at the time of purchase, it is better to take the time to examine the different specimens to avoid disappointment when you get home... We explain how to choose your plants in garden centers.

1- Define your needs beforehand

To get your plants right, you need to take the time to think about it before you even go to the garden center.

Impulse buys and crushes often lead to disappointment, when the chosen specimen doesn't find its place in the home or garden and ends up vegetating or dying.

The solution to avoid this type of disappointment is to ask the right questions before you go shopping:

- Do you prefer a green plant or a flowering plant that brings color?
- Do you have enough time to devote to a plant that requires maintenance or should you opt for a hardy species that requires little care?
- Do you have pets or small children in your home who could be poisoned by certain plants?
- Do you have a suitable location for houseplants in your home, i.e. away from heat sources and with sufficient light exposure?

These different questions will allow you to define your needs beforehand and ask the right questions to the salesperson when you go to one or more garden centers.

Once there, take the time to learn about the specific needs of each species or variety you are interested in.

2- Resist impulse buying

As we told you above, impulse buys at garden centers rarely work out well because :
- they lead you to spend more than you intended
- they can lead you to choose species that are not adapted to your home or garden (for questions of exposure, hygrometry etc.)
- they are often motivated by aesthetic criteria which are not the only ones to take into account when choosing your plants.

Contrary to what beginner gardeners imagine, the beauty of a specimen is not the main criterion that should guide your choice in garden centers.

Be especially wary of specimens that have caught your eye because they have beautiful flowers. Early, out-of-season flowering is a sign that the plant has been forced and has already depleted its nutrient reserves.

For a bulbous plant, this means that this specimen will not bloom the year after purchase. So you'll need to be patient if you want to rebloom an amaryllis, for example.

In the case of annual plants to be transplanted, if you choose plants already in bloom, the recovery after transplanting may be more difficult.

3- Conduct a thorough examination

As you can see, garden center shopping requires thought and time. If you don't want to be disappointed when you get home, you can't just grab this or that pot off the shelf!

Once you've determined which plant you want to buy,
you need to take the time to comparison several specimens of the same species. It's important to examine each specimen for any defects or problems.

Here are several points to check to properly choose your plants:

- Is the plant's silhouette well balanced? Are the branches or offshoots well proportioned to the trunk or main stem? A balanced silhouette is a sign that the plant has grown steadily without stress.

- Are there any marks or poorly healed pruning wounds on the stems?

- Are there spots or signs of necrosis on the leaves? Healthy foliage should be evenly colored, firm to the touch and shiny.

- In the case of a flowering plant, are there flower buds on the plant, indicating that it will bloom well?

A final point to check is the good health of the root ball. To do this, simply take the plant gently out of its pot. Check that the roots are numerous and have enough room in the pot. They should not form a "bun", otherwise the recovery will be complicated. Also check the root ball for pests such as mealy bugs or aphids.

This scrutiny takes time, but it is not time wasted! By comparing several specimens and being informed at the time of purchase, you put all the chances on your side so that your plants will flourish once installed in your home.

Author: Audrey
Copyright image: Forest and Kim Starr
Tags: plant, species, pot, silhouette, garden center, flowering plant, transplanting, shelf, annual plants, Main stem, stress, pruning, Necrosis, leaves, HEALTH, pests, mealy bugs, Amaryllis, bulbous plant, nutrient, The solution, green plant, hardy, houseplants, heat, light, Resist, impulse buying, impulse, hygrometry, aesthetic, beauty, eye, aphids,
In French: Achats en jardinerie : comment bien choisir ses plantes ?
En español: Compras en centros de jardinería: ¿cómo elegir las plantas adecuadas?
In italiano: Acquisti nei garden center: come scegliere le piante giuste?
Auf Deutsch: Einkaufen im Gartencenter: Wie wählt man die richtigen Pflanzen aus?
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