Tips for buying plants from nursery

It was not long ago when i started gardening few years back. It took a lot of mistakes, wasted money and valuable time to understand how and when to buy plants or seedlings from a plant nursery. In initial years excitement always overcame the wisdom and patience. Now things are quite different. Here are some of the Tips for buying plants from nursery from my personal experience.
Do not buy a plant in bloom
Remember if you buy an already blooming plant then after transplanting it will not focus its energies on root development instead blooming only. Even if you are buying plants in pots and do not intend to transplant them, still it is better to buy healthy plants with no bud/bloom. If there is a bud or two, remove it before transplanting. As a result the plant will use its energies on root development and after then blooming will be profuse and much better.
Do not buy a plant not meant for your climate
In Spring, i always ask nursery men whether this aquilegia (columbine) is a perennial in my hot climate or not and believe me, although they very well know the correct answer, every time they say it is perennial. Sadly it is not true. Same is the case with delphinium and fuchsia which are annual for my zone 10. This is inversely true for northern gardeners that plants like brugmansia and jasminum sambac do not survive cold weather.Conclusion is, always consult form internet whether a particular plant is annual for your climate or not.Or if you are lucky you might find an honest nursery men.
Buy plants with healthy growth
Here is the trick which some clever nursery men do. They take a healthy plant out from soil bed and put it  i a large pot and sell it by saying it was raised in this pot. You must ensure the plant you are buying has a healthy new growth. Avoid plants with yellow leaves, wilting leaves, spotty leaves,brown or burnt leaves, leaves with bugs or pests on them. If there is not new growth then it can mean few things. Either the plant is dormant or the plant is root bound or there is some problem with this plant. If plant is root bound you will see the roots coming out of the bottom of the pot. Transplant root bound plant as soon as possible although i would discourage buying a root bound plant. Remember there are few perennials which bloom only when root bound. So some exceptions are always there.Purchase a dormant plant only if you very well know the plant.
Do not buy a plant in pot but roots in soil
Sometimes a plant is in a pot but the roots outbreak and reach into the soil searching for water and nutrition. Do not buy such plant as the root damage will shock the plant and it will not recover the shock. I once bought a yellow buddleia whose roots were gone into soil although it was in 6 inches pot. The plant did not show any damage within first 15 minutes. But it was dead in next 2 hours.
Keep cell numbers of sales man in your phonebook
It is very handy. You can always ask the sales man before going to nursery for availability of a plant. I use it for price comparison as well. My cell phone book contains more than 30 numbers confined to seeds shops and plant nurseries.

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6 Responses

  1. soniafarooq says:

    oh no, that means the primula i just brought home from the kalma chowk nurseries are a waste?they were single fully grown plants in those small pots and i just transplanted them into larger pots. some nurseries say they need full sun,some say they need shade, do you know which of the two is true?

  2. @Sonia, not at all waste of time. Primula are very beautiful annuals for lahore, though they hail from northern climate. Even if you transplanted them in bloom stage, no problem. But do not expect them to bloom as soon as heat builds up in april. You will have to buy them next year. Give them morning few hours sun. I got 2 primulas in small pots on my terrace with no direct sun and they are blooming good.

    Try this article by Zahrah nasir from bhurban. http://www.dawn.com/2010/12/19/nature-talk-pleasing-primulas.html

  3. Anonymous says:

    Useful information and good tips, I am new to gardening when buying plants biggest problem that I faced apart from those that you mention in your post is pricing. I have no idea what the price of certain plant should be. Which have me at disadvantage of bargain, due to my lack of knowledge of market I usually ended up paying more for the plant than the price should be and you know how nursery guys con the ill informed customer. One nursery was asking 100 rs for a small common fern growing in 3×3 pot and for same size empty pot he was asking 30 rs each.( thank God i didnt buy that!) They can always sense if customer knows the price range or not. Can you please provide some tip on guessing the price range and bargaining leverage of common indoor and outdoor plants easily available at road side nurseries. It will be really helpful for us new gardeners and probably save us a alot of money. I always prefer to buy plants as young as possible. I live in karachi.

  4. Brig Zia ud Din Retd says:

    Remarkable ,
    Informative, useful & beneficial
    One of the best blogs

  5. Thanks for your comment about buying a plant with healthy new growth and avoiding those with yellow, wilting leaves or brown or burnt leaves. It makes sense that this would be an indicator that a plant was really doing well in its pot and hadn’t just been transferred there recently. I would also think it could be a good idea to find someone that would sell it to you wholesale if you were planning to buy lots at once.

  6. Thanks for the great tips for buying flowers from a nursery. I hadn’t thought about buying something that for sure has healthy new growth. However, it makes sense that you want something that is still growing.

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