At the Nursery – Buying New Plants

    New Plants — Ready to add a little color to your yard? Let me give you some hints that will make your trip successful when you visit the nursery or garden center.

    There are a few special businesses you walk into that make you want to finally say “I’ll take one of everything!” Bakeries do this when you are hungry and flower shops do this when you are in love. Gear stores have this affect on us (Dave, Mike, John and Steve) all the time and nurseries definitely put me in an open-wallet kind of mood.

    When you shop for new plants and flowers you’ll want to keep a cool head and definitely stop and smell the roses.

    Selecting a Good Plant

    Pop Quiz: Two trains leave the station… no, wait.

    You want to buy a rose bush and there are two to choose from. One has 10 flowers and the other has none. Which one should you buy?

    This is actually a trick question because you don’t have enough information (yes, I am a jerk). When buying flowers you need to look past the flowers and look at the green stuff. Look for a nice bushy bush that has flower producing potential. The number of flowers it has right now doesn’t really tell you what it will be doing for the rest of the season. Get the plant with the healthiest stocks and leaves and a nice “cup” shape.

    For trees, start with shape. A tree needs to have branches coming out in every direction so it is balanced and has a nice straight trunk line. It should have very little damage, especially on the trunk. Deep scars may cause one side of the tree to prematurely die.

    If the tree is young and leaning or unbalanced it may still be a good buy. Young trees can be trained to grow straight and a quick trim may bring it back into balance (wait at least a year before you prune a newly transplanted tree to minimize stress).

    Get more new tree info.


    Most nurseries and garden centers will guarantee their plants for an entire year. If a plant is going to die, it usually happens shortly after being transplanted or during the first winter. Check the guarantees on your plant when you checkout and save your receipt and the container in case of the worst.

    Get Advice

    Larger and more expensive plants will usually have tags that give you hints about the right conditions for that plant (sun, soil and weather). If you’re not sure what you’re doing, make sure you ask.

    If the sales staff are lacking in knowledge, you can take a free peek in one of the glossy plant books by the cash register to get your specific answer.

    The New Arrival

    If you won’t be planting right away, make sure your plant is taken care of. Keep it watered and out of direct sunlight until you are ready to put it in the ground. Even thought it’s guaranteed, if the plant dies, you’ll have to take it back and exchange it for the one that you didn’t like as much.

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