How to Buy Healthy Plants

Choose Healthy plants for your greenhouse

Your best protection against a weak or diseased garden is prevention in the form of smart shopping. Start with healthy plants to give your garden the greatest chance for success.

  1. Plants that have been allowed to wilt frequently in the hot sun are never a bargain, no matter the price. A sale is only good value if the plants are well cared for. 
  2. Look at all the plants on offer in a group. If some seem unhealthy, don’t shop there. It could be healthy today and diseased tomorrow.
  3. Shop early in the season when plants are young and you have a good selection to choose from.
  4. Gently remove the plant you are considering from the container to examine the roots. You want lots of roots, but not so many that the roots are tightly wrapped in a spiral.
  5. Plants with an overall pale colour can be remedied with nutrients, but yellow streaks or brown spots on the leaf indicate disease. Walk away from any plants with yellow streaks or brown spots.
  6. Buy perennials, shrubs or trees when they are just starting to bud out. Spring leaf growth corresponds with a root growth spurt, so you want that plant in the ground before it leafs out and the roots start their rapid growth in the pot.
  7. If you buy bedding plants that are already in flower, pinch the blossoms off when planting. This will help direct the plant’s energy into root development. A strong root system at the beginning of the season will mean more flower and fruit production later in the season.

These tips are summarized from “The organic gardeners handbook of natural insect and disease control,” edited by Barbara Ellis and Fern Marshall Bradley.