Plant Buying Guide
Here are our top tips for purchasing new plants:
Photo Credit: @leoniechristine_visuals
Know your plant: Most nurseries and greenhouses will have proper labels on their plants. However, big-box stores will likely only have vague or improper plant labels—i.e., “tropical” but with no specific plant genus or name. Care tips are often included on plant tags, but a quick Google search should help confirm the plants’ needs.
Be realistic: Do you have the space and proper environment to house the plant? This can by far be the hardest tip to implement. We are collectors and yearn for the ideal dream plant. BUT we need to know that some plants are just unattainable and we have to spend wisely on plants that we can love and help thrive for years to come.
Ask an expert: Your local nursery, garden centre, or greenhouse should have well-trained, knowledgeable staff who are willing to field any questions or concerns you may have. They are also a great resource for asking about useful local information, such as your growing zone, soil type, and first and last frost dates.
Check for pests: Know the signs of common plant-loving pests such as mealybugs, fungus gnats, and spider mites. Avoid any plants with infestation signs in the soil or on the plant itself. Better yet, be extra critical of neighbouring plants that appear to be from the same lot or shipment of suspected infected plants. If it seems to be a chronic issue, stop frequenting the retailer.
Notice signs of neglect: Look out for leaves that have fallen, are yellowing or browning, discoloured, tattered, or broken. Other signs of damage include dry, hard soil, wilted foliage, and dry leaf tips. These are all signs of mistreatment and water neglect. With that being said, some plants are worth rescuing: if the plant seems slightly limp or droopy, it could have gone a couple days past due on watering. But if proper action is taken soon, it should perk up and bounce back.
Notice signs of over-care: Keep an eye out for fallen leaves, discolouration, browning or yellowing foliage, mold forming on soil, waterlogged soil or top dress, and if the plant feels too weighty when picked up. Unlike underwatered plants, the overwatered ones are harder to save. While there are some telltale signs of root rot, it might not be something you notice at the store. I would pass on trying to save these little ones; you can always come back in a few days to see if your pick of the lot appears to be on the mend.
Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts: You wouldn’t pay full price for a picture frame with broken glass, or a toy set that has missing pieces. Damaged goods are damaged goods. If you think the plant is less than intended, ask for the price to be adjusted. There is no harm in starting a conversation about discount possibilities. Most reputable plant retailers are willing to make reasonable price adjustments when they know their product is subpar.