Tips for Buying Potted Plants
There are several things to be aware of when buying potted plants, whether for landscape beds or indoors. We share tips on selecting the perfect plants.
Healthy vs Unhealthy Leaves
Look for plants with lush, firm leaves. The leaves should be green and uniform in color.
Avoid plants with wilting leaves. This wilting indicates the plants receive too much or not enough water. Insects, such as aphids suck the juices out of the leaves, causing them to wilt. Another cause of wilting leaves is verticillium wilt. Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease. The only way to test for this disease is to send a soil sample off to your local agriculture extension office.
Plants with discolored leaves point to several issues. As with wilt, discolored leaves could mean the plant is inconsistently watered or has poor drainage.
Yellowing of the leaves is a sign of possible root damage or compactness. The leaves are not receiving the appropriate nutrients due to a problem with the roots.
Overall nutrient deficiency in plants shows up in the yellowing of the leaves as well. Nitrogen deficiency hits older leaves first, causing them to turn yellow. The yellowing then makes its way to the younger leaves. With a potassium deficiency, the outer edges of the leaves are yellow, but the inside of the leaf remains green.
Discolored leaves are also an indication of poor soil ph levels. Some plants are acid-loving. If their ph is off, the plant cannot absorb the nutrients necessary to produce green foliage.
Always inspect plants for insects. Look at the tops of the leaves, the underside of leaves, stems, and the top of the soil. If you are bringing the plant indoors, the last thing you want is to bring insects in with it.
These are some common insects found in nursery or garden center plants.
Spider mites construct small webs around the leaves and stem. Yellow and brown spotting on the leaves is indicative of spider mite damage.
Aphids leave behind their honeydew, a dark, sticky substance. They, typically, feed on new growth.
Scale is an insect with sucking mouthparts. To spot if a plant has scale, look for raised bumps on the leaves and stems. These bumps easily scrape off. Like aphids, scale produces honeydew which may be present on lower stems or leaves.
If a plant has root weevil damage, the leaves appear to have notches removed. When adult root weevils are present, their larvae are present as well.
Leafminers are actually small flies. But it is the larvae that cause the damage to plants. As the larvae eat, they leave trails through the leaves.
Healthy vs Unhealthy Roots
When you purchase plants from a nursery or garden center, always examine the roots. The roots are such an essential part of the plant and the plant’s means of getting nutrients.
Remove the plant from the container and inspect the roots. Roots with white tips or colored white and tan are healthy.
Root rot occurs when the plant doesn’t have enough drainage, receives too much water, or has a soil fungus. Roots appear mushy and reddish-brown. There may even be a foul smell to the soil.
Plants become root-bound when they continue to grow in a container too small for them. The roots have nowhere to go, so they wrap around each other and overtake the soil.
Root girdling occurs mainly in trees. Planting a tree too deeply or keeping a tree in a container too long causes root girdling. The roots begin to grow up towards the surface to get oxygen. As they grow, they begin to encircle the tree. Over time, this girdling strangles the tree.
We hope this knowledge helps you pick out the best plants when shopping at nurseries and garden centers.
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Tips for Buying Potted Plants
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I have over 30 years of experience in the horticulture and landscaping field. Sharing my knowledge of all this plant-related is a passion of mine. I also enjoy spending time outdoors, whether hiking, canoeing, or sitting by a campfire.