How to pick a healthy plant for your garden

There are two choices available when it comes to selecting plants for your garden. Do you go with planting seeds or buying entire plants? Both have their own benefits. If you decide to go down the route of planting seeds, you must make sure that you spend the time to care for them every day. This you will find is a much more rewarding experience than when you just go to your local garden centre and buy a full, healthy plant. However, this method is a lot more risky. I can’t tell you how many seeds I’ve planted and never seen any trace greenery whatsoever.

If you decide to purchase your plants from your local garden centre and cultivate it in your garden, it reduces the amount of time you initially need to spend nurturing and making the plant healthy. However, I have found in the past that unless the plant is bought from a local garden centre that actually cares for their products and know what they are doing, you can find that some places will ruin the plants future by adding certain chemicals or fertilizers during the growing process. By learning how to choose the healthiest plant of the bunch you should be able to avoid any future disappointment. I hope some of the techniques below which I personally use in my screening process for plants selecting the right garden plants will help.

Whilst it may sound superficial, the one thing you need to check for when selecting your prospective plants is how nice they look and appear. As far as plants go, it is okay to "judge a book by its cover". If a plant has been treated properly it is healthy and will have no diseases or pests. You can almost always tell this by how nice it looks. If a plant has been grown in substandard, nutrient free soil, or has harmful bugs living in it, the biggest tell-tale signs are the holey leaves and wilted stems.

When you are browsing the garden nursery shelves looking for your dream plant, you want to exclude anything that is currently flowering or in bloom. Plants are less traumatised by transplanting if they are not flowering. It is best to find plants that just consist of buds. If the only choice you have available are flowering plants, then you should take drastic action and prune the flowers. It will be worth it for the future health of the plant. I’ve found that repotting a plant while it is blooming results in having a dead plant 90% of the time.

Before you part with your cash, always check the roots. The chances are if the roots are in absolutely terrible condition you will be able to tell by looking at the rest of the plant. If the roots are just slightly out of shape, this is more difficult to spot by just glancing at them. Inspect the roots very closely for any signs of brownness, rottenness, or softness. A plants roots should always be firm, perfectly well formed and they should hold all the soil together. You can easily tell if the roots are before or past their prime depending on the root to soil ratio. If there are a ridiculous amount of roots with little soil, or a bunch of soil with few roots, do not buy that plant and put it down.

If you find any abnormalities with the plant, you should ask your local garden centre employees. They will be able to assist you and whist these can usually be the sign of an unhealthy plant, occasionally there will be a logical explanation for it. Always give your local garden centre a chance to help and explain before writing them off. Local family run garden centres on the whole are professionals who have been dealing with plants for years and they have a passion for gardening. It isn't just about getting the sale, they want you to have a healthy, beautiful garden you can be proud of.

So, if you decide to take the easier route and purchase a plant from your local garden centre you just have to remember that the plants health has been left up to someone you don’t know. Usually they do a good job but you should always check for yourself. Also take every precaution you can to avoid any shocks when it comes to re-potting your plants. If you follow these basic and simple steps, usually the process will go smoothly, but as plants are a beauty of nature, you can never be too sure.

If visiting Hilltop Garden Centre in Coventry, our friendly team are always at hand to help. If you are not sure what type of plant would best be suited for your garden or if you are in need of garden furniture advice that will compliment your plants, please ask us. We will only be too happy to help.