How to buy a plant

Shopping for garden plants should be easy, but sometimes a little advice could help so that you know you're picking up a pot that's going to perform well in your garden.

Whilst shopping for plants, quality is always at the top of the list. Your trusted local garden centre will work hard to make sure they're buying in quality stock that is well rooted, free of pest and disease, well-nourished and well looked after. However, there are always things you can look for to make sure you're getting a good plant.

Pick a Strong Performer

Look for the best looking plant in the group so you know you're getting a strong performer. You want to choose a plant that looks fresh and healthy looking.

Depending on the variety, choose a plant with lots of breaks/shoots (for most plants), and lots of buds that are just about to burst into bloom.

Do a quick check

Look over the plant to make sure it's generally in good condition. Often this is enough to see whether there are any obvious problems with the plant. Look out for broken stems, or if the plant has been trimmed a lot to extend its shelf life, as this means it may already be tired.

Check the flowers

If you're buying a flowering plant, try to choose one that has one or two flowers open already so that you can make sure you're getting the same plant that the label is showing. It's not that common, but the wrong label or an inaccurate colour on the picture can happen occasionally.

Has the plant been well-watered?

Make sure the plant looks well-watered. You don't want one that's bone dry, (you don't know how long it has been dried up for!), but you don't want one that is water logged either. A nicely moist soil is a good sign it has been well cared for.

Check for Pest and Disease

It's always worth having a quick check over the plant for pests or diseases as often it is obvious if there is any kind of infestation from pests such as pesky green aphids or other bugs.

Common things to look for are:

  • Slug or snail trails near the plants as they could have laid eggs in the pots even if the plants don't have any damage.
  • Look out for any leaf curling as this could be a sign of insect attack.
  • 'Notching' (an even semi-circle missing from the leaf edge) is a sign that vine weevil adults have been feeding before they laid their eggs at the base of the plant. When the larvae emerge they will eat 'all' of the plant's roots.

Leaf Colour

If a plant is supposed to have green leaves, make sure they aren't yellowing on the tips as this could be a sign of malnourishment, or a sign of a poor/damaged root system that is unable to absorb the nutrients in the soil.

Check the root system

If possible try to get a look at the root system of the plant by lifting it out of its pot if it's small enough.

You are looking for a strong, established root system, but you don't want it to be completely pot bound and growing lots of roots out of the bottom of the pot.

Does the pot already have fertiliser included?

Enquire if there is a slow release fertilizer included already in the pot as if there is you won't need to feed the plant again until it runs out.

Look for a Proven Winners Pot

Proven Winners breed their plants to be Proven Performers in the garden, so you know a plant in a white Proven Winners pot will be a plant you can trust to look great.

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Plant a warm and textured autumn container with this recipe.

Plant a warm and textured autumn container with this recipe.

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