Top Tips For Garden Shopping

Visiting garden centers and nurseries is one of the most popular spring/summer pastimes. Fortunately, our region is home to dozens of nurseries offering a wide variety of plants and other gardening items. But browsing a nursery can quickly become overwhelming or confusing. The following tips will help you get the most out of your next nursery visit.

  • Do your homework. Test your soil; observe where it’s sunny/shady throughout the day; note which parts of your garden need filling; look at websites and magazines for inspiration. Take notes!
  • Start small and simple. Break down your garden into a series of small-scale projects you can add to over time.
  • Make a first pass. Wander the nursery, getting a general idea of what’s available and what you want.
  • Ask for help. Employees can point you toward plants that suit your requirements, plus any supplies you’ll need.
  • Read the plant tags. They hold key information about a plant’s sun/shade needs, space required, and size at maturity.
  • Think about longevity. For plants that will be with you more than one season, consider perennials. You can overwinter perennials right in the containers.
  • Choose buds over blooms. A plant in bud will give you more color. Plus, plants in bud suffer less transplant shock than plants in full bloom.
  • Take a close look. You want a bushy, well-branched shape, sturdy stems and healthy-looking leaf color. Avoid sick, diseased or pest-ridden plants.
  • Check the roots. Take a plant out of its pot to ensure it’s not root-bound. If you do end up with a thick mass of roots, cut through them to loosen before planting. Give the plant extra water until it is well established.
  • Stretch your budget. Check the sale and clearance sections for bargains, while avoiding plants with disease or pest problems.
  • Shop often. For the widest selection of healthy, well-maintained flowers, choose businesses that get regular deliveries of new plants and shop throughout the growing season.

Plants are an investment in your landscape. Take your time, use all the available information and enjoy yourself when plant shopping. Happy growing!

KELLY LENIHAN