So you’re ready to invest in some plants! That’s an exciting place to be and there are endless directions to go. Whether you are starting a brand new garden, filling in a balcony pot, or adding to last year’s landscaping efforts, it’s probably time to head to a nursery. Here are some helpful steps to visit a plant nursery like a pro:
Do Your Research
A plant nursery is a place where people propagate and grow plants, and then sell them. There are a wide variety of plant nurseries in the world. Some specialize in propagation, others in retail. Some nurseries focus their efforts on succulents, while others might only grow natives or cover crop.
Because of this wide variety, the most important step is to do your research before going. Do a quick google of nurseries in your area. Many nurseries have helpful websites, and if that doesn’t clear things up, you can always give the business a call and talk to a real, live person.
Think about what you want to accomplish with your plant purchases: are you wanting a salsa garden on your back porch? Do you have your sights set on an herb garden? Is it important to you to only use starters that are neonicotinoid free? (Answer: if you care about bees, it should be!) Are you wanting to plant a row of lilacs or plum trees?
Have a plan for the upcoming gardening season, and then check to make sure a particular nursery has what you need. You may need to visit a few different nurseries, and that’s okay too.
Weekdays Are Your Friend
As is usually the case with any retail odyssey, plan to do your shopping on a weekday if at all possible and save yourself time and stress. Especially with plants, there is a small window for gardening shoppers to purchase their flora. It’s safe to say that most nurseries are utterly swamped on weekends, which means that the staff will be less available to answer any questions you might have and there’s a pretty solid chance you’ll be waiting in lines.
Plant nurseries can be such a fun place to hang out – you’re surrounded by plant babies! The smells, the bright colors, the damp soil – all indications that winter has subsided and spring is here. But if you’re in a hurry, a visit to the nursery can end up being a fairly unpleasant experience. Often, these businesses have a wide variety of really cool plants spread out over a whole lot or farm. Make sure you carve out enough time to find what it is you want, and maybe discover some new plants to impulsively add to the family.
Go for the Buds, Not the Blooms
When you’re walking around the rows of plants, it can be tempting to be drawn to the plants with the brightest blooms, but hold off on those vibrant eye-catchers. When selecting your plant starters at the nursery, look for plants with buds instead of blooms. With buds, the plant starter will be less susceptible to the trauma of replanting, then will then be timed to bloom beautifully at home.
Check Out the Roots
Once you’ve selected a healthy-looking plant with promising buds, you can also take a look at the roots of the starter plant. Sometimes, starter plants are detrimentally root-bound. It can depend on the plant, but as roots take over the container, there is less room for soil and water retention. This eventually causes the roots, and your plant, to die. At a minimum, it will stunt the growth of your plant.
If you arrive home from the plant nursery to realize that you’ve purchased some root bound starters, don’t despair! Use a knife or even your hands to break up the roots before planting. Once in the ground, water the plant thoroughly and give it a little extra love as the root reestablish.
However, it’s important to understand the personality of the plant before you go breaking up the roots. Some plants actually thrive from being root-bound. Examples include aloe, African violets, spider plants, and asparagus fern.
If you’re not sure what plant you’re dealing with, you can always use a plant identification app to solve the mystery and determine what will best suit your plant.