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What Should I Consider When Buying Nursery Plants?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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When shopping for nursery plants for your garden or container, look for healthy plants, with leaves that appear hardy and strong. Remember that if the plants have already flowered, you won't have any new blooms unless the plant has unopened buds. Avoid plants with holes or spots on the leaves as they may be infested with garden pests such as spider mites.

Spider mites are commonly brought into gardens from nursery plants. Especially since these pests tend to be difficult to get rid of, it's best to try to avoid choosing plants with any signs of a spider mite infestation. The tiny, eight-legged spider mites eat mainly from the underside of leaves. Holes in the leaves or little yellow or white spots suggest a spider mite problem. The mites thrive in warm temperatures, so plants that grow in the shade are less susceptible to these pests.

Of course, when selecting nursery plants, you must choose ones that grow well in your climate. Local nurseries and garden centers sell plants for the local climate, but they usually have tropical and greenhouse plants as well. Speak with a gardening expert about your particular growing conditions such as the amount of sun and shade your garden or planter receives. Choose those garden centers in your area with the healthiest looking plants and the most knowledgeable staff.

Both annuals and perennials are popular nursery plants. Annuals, such as snapdragons, impatiens and zinnias, have a growing cycle of one year, although sometimes they last for several years like perennials. Perennials, such as tulips, lilies and irises, have a growing cycle of several years, yet if the climate is very warm they may last only one year like annuals.

Winter is a great time to look for bargains when buying nursery plants because nurseries and garden centers need to clear out unsold plants to make room for new spring stock. The savings may be as much as 50% off the regular price. In geographical locations where the ground doesn't freeze, many plants can still be planted in the winter months. In many cases, you'll have only the roots to go by to assess the health of these winter sale plants, so look for firm solid roots that don't crumble. Brown or black indicates dead roots, so choose winter nursery plants that are light in color.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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