A HEALTHY PLANT FOR YOUR GARDEN AND HOUSE
next step towards building your dream garden is choosing the
right plants. As you enter the nursery or garden center, you
look around at the various kinds of plant selection. You may
know the kind of plant you are looking for, or you may just
browse until you find the flower or plant that rings really
attract you. That is usually the easiest way to shop for your
garden plant. Now you must decide which specimen, out of the
numerous plants, you want to take home with you. There are
several aspects that you should consider in making your decision.
The prettiest plant on the shelf is not necessarily the healthiest,
nor the best buy.
Take a look at the general health of all of the plants in
the nursery, not just of a particular variety. Unlike seasonal
perennials and annuals, houseplants may reside in the nursery
for a year or longer. During this time they may be exposed
to many common houseplant pests. If you find mites, mealy
bugs, or any other harmful insects anywhere in the houseplant
department, they may have already infested the plant you like
as well. In such circumstances its best not to purchase any
plant from there. Better safe, than sorry.
After decided on the type of plant, choose about a half
dozen of the healthiest looking plants, and set them off to
the side. Then go back for a closer examination of the different
parts of each plant, before making any decision. Look closely
for insect pests and signs of disease.
Next check the roots. The roots provide the food for the plant,
and are of the utmost importance. It is essential that there
is a healthy, robust root ball, which fills, or nearly fills
the pot. To check the condition of the root either you can
ask the nursery man to remove the plant from the pot and show
you or you can look at the drainage holes in the pot and get
a pretty good idea of what is going on inside the pot. A few
(but not too many) roots should be beginning to poke through
the drain holes. These roots should not be dry or brittle.
No roots should be showing above the surface of the soil.
The stems and trunks will determine the shape and fullness
of the plant. The main stem(s) should be thick and healthy
in appearance. The stems should be spaced evenly around the
plant Look for abrasions, breaks or other stem damage, which
may be slowly killing the plant. The leaves should appear
to be strong and healthy, and the foliage color should be
Flowering plants should have young, tight buds. It's nice
to see the plant in full bloom, but if it is fully flowered
now, you may not see it bloom in your garden until the following
year. Some perennials and most annuals have an extended blooming
period, so with these plants this is not a major concern,
but should be considered.
Only after the site has been prepared, and the soil and conditioners
mixed, watered well and settled should you test the pH of
the soil. You can buy an inexpensive pH test kit at most nurseries,
and many good garden centers will gladly test a soil sample
for you. The best way to adjust pH is gradually, over several
seasons. If the soil is excessively alkaline, you might be
better off to build a raised bed using topsoil purchased from
When you bring your plants home, allow them to adapt themselves
in the new surroundings by placing them in the shade, and
then gradually bring them into their proper lighting. Be sure
to keep them well watered until they are ready to plant into
the ground. It is best to plant them on a cloudy day.