Find out how to make the best purchases at your local plant nursery with these simple tips.
For some folks a trip to the nursery to select plants is fun and exciting; for others, it's pure puzzlement and confusion.
Tip #1: Shop during the week.
If you really want to spend time shopping, Saturday and Sunday are not the best days. Thursday is usually a good day. Trucks deliver inventory throughout the week, and shopping before the weekend rush will help you get the best selection.
Tip #2: Take your time.
Make a first pass. Wander through first and look at everything, getting a general idea of what's available and what you want. Then get a cart and select your plants.
As you're looking around, observe where plants are placed. Plants that are in full sun throughout the day require the same environment in your home landscape. Some annuals are shade tolerant, but in general, most annuals need full sun.
Don't forget to read the plant tags. They hold key information about the plant's needs, spacing required, and size at maturity. Local nurseries usually have their own tags, which provide tips about how to care for a plant in your home climate. Remember, plant requirements vary depending on how far north or south you live, or what zone you're located in. A plant that was originally grown in Minnesota will tolerate more sun than when it is planted at your home in Georgia. So rely on local information more than what is provided from the grower.
If you're interested in plants that will be with you for more than one season, consider perennials. Typically perennials are planted in garden beds, but many work equally well in containers. In many parts of the country you can overwinter perennials right in the containers. One of the most important things to remember about perennials is the "rule of three." It refers to the fact that it generally takes about three years for a perennnial to reach its ultimate size. Year one is getting them established by watering them well. In the second year you can expect to see growth and more flowering, and by year three they're fully developed.
So how long do perennials live? It varies with the plant, but it can be anywhere from a few years to several hundred years.
Tip #3: Purchase plants with more buds than blooms.
Although a plant in full bloom may look more attractive now, the one in bud will give you more color after you've planted it in your home landscape. In addition, plants in bud will not suffer nearly as much transplant shock as plants in full bloom.
Tip #4: Inspect plant roots.
Don't be afraid to take a plant out of its pot. You don't want to purchase a plant that's totally root bound. If you do end up with a plant that has a thick mass of roots, take a knife and cut through the roots to loosen them before you plant it. Give it extra water until it gets well established.
Remember, plants are an investment in your landscape. Take your time, use all the available information, and enjoy yourself when plant shopping.