When you show up to the local garden center, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the options. I mean, how are you supposed to choose one or two plants!?
But before we dive into how to choose a healthy houseplant, let's talk about where to buy healthy houseplants. We learned (the hard way) that purchasing plants from reputable garden centers and plant shops is worth the extra $5, $10, or $20 bucks. Why? Because garden centers and plant shops are in the business of plants - they work with plants every day and their employees are the most knowledgeable. These retailers will offer the overall healthiest plants - it's in their best interest!
Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about how to choose a healthy plant. It can be easy to grab the plant with the prettiest color or the largest size, but it's important to take a closer look before making your final choice.
One thing to look for is the presence of bugs. To do this, pick up the plant and really get in there. Look not only at the surface of the soil, but check out the leaves. Pay attention to the underside of the leaves as well, as many plant-loving bugs prefer to hang out here. Also check the area where the leaves meet the stems. Once you've carefully looked the plant over and find no signs of buggy life, you're probably in the clear.
Something else that may draw your attention are plants whose roots are sticking out of the bottom of their plastic nursery pot. Now, this is neither here nor there in regards to it being a healthy plant, but it's still something to consider. As a plant begins to outgrow its pot, its roots will eventually make their way out of any drainage holes. If you find yourself preferring a plant in this condition, just know that it will need to be re-potted sooner rather than later. While you're at the plant shop, go ahead and grab some potting soil and a pot for this plant. When choosing a new pot, you typically only need to go one size up from the plant's current pot. For example, if the plant is currently in a 6 inch (in diameter) pot, grab a 7 or 8 inch pot. If you're not sure, ask the nearest employee and they can help you pick out the appropriate size and potting soil!
Now that you've narrowed down your options, let's take a look at one last thing: the plant's soil. Look for a plant whose soil isn't too tightly compact and dried out. On the flip side, if the soil seems to be mucky and overly wet, avoid that as well. Most garden centers and plant shops will have plants that are potted in appropriate soil, but always check just to make sure. You will always want a plant in soil that is moistened, but not wet, and well aerated, and not too tightly compact.
Follow these simple guidelines and you'll be navigating the plant shop like an absolute pro!
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