Garden centers are bursting with colorful flowers, thriving shrubs and blooming trees. These centers strategically place their best stock in prime viewing position for anxious spring gardeners to drool over and, eventually, purchase though they may not really need those specific plants. Before you make a landscape investment, check out the reputation of the garden center and consider your specific plant needs.
Where to buy plant material
A good green house should be clean - free of insect-and-disease harboring weeds and debris. Look for a display garden that shows how mature plants will appear. Always try to buy from a grower rather than a plant merchandiser.
A good nursery will have plenty of signs and tags on each plant that includes the genus, species, and cultivar names. Tags also should state color, height, blooming season, hardiness information, and the soil, light and moisture requirements.
Employees should be able to answer your questions such as where was the plant grown? Ask about guarantees. Many garden centers will either replace dead plants or offer credit toward a new purchase.
Selecting the right plant
Look for fat, stocky plants with healthy green leaves. Avoid plants with tall spindly stem and widely spaced leaves. Try to buy annuals before they bloom for a more spectacular show.
All plants should be insect-free. Check the undersides of leaves for pests, and damage such as speckling from spider mites or bite-shaped holes on leaf margins form weevils and other pests.
Discolored leaves indicate earlier watering problems, or plants with brown and dying centers. Plants should have well-developed root balls that hold their shape when slipped out of the pots. Short, white, "hairy" roots should just be visibly emerging from the soil. Disregard plants with dark or mushy roots or those that smell of ammonia.
By selecting a reputable garden center and the healthiest plants, a spring garden can be a very rewarding activity.
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