Buying Houseplants

It is a sad that all too many houseplants die within a few weeks of being brought into their new homes. Most of these casualties can be prevented if care is used in the selection of good plants from reliable suppliers and sensible precautions are taken to protect them from extremes of temperature when taking them home. The new plants also benefit from extra attention for the first week or two.


The first stage of their journey from the growers’ greenhouse to the home usually involves transport to the retail outlet. Special delivery vans are needed for this to avoid the risk of delicate plants being exposed to damaging draughts and to extremes of temperature, all of which can cause irreversible damage. The plants can also suffer when they are on display if they are not properly looked after. Much the best guarantee against such troubles is to purchase the plants from reputable retailers who get them from reliable growers. Nevertheless it is still worthwhile checking the plants over yourself before buying.


Don’t buy plants which show any of the following defects:

1. Roots growing in profusion out of the bottom of the pot, which indicates that the plant is pot-bound.

2. Compost has shrunk away from the pot showing that watering has been neglected.

3. Foliage wilting or yellowed. This may be simply due to lack of water, but it could also indicate that the root system is unhealthy.

4. Infestations of greenfly, whitefly, mealy bug or scale insects. Plants infected with rust, powdery mildew or grey mould diseases should also be rejected since these troubles spread all too readily to your other plants.


New houseplants are very much at risk when you are taking them home. Foliage and flowers may be bruised or broken off and the plants subjected to damaging draughts. In winter time there is the added danger of exposure to low temperatures. So it is important that the plant should be well wrapped either in paper or plastic film. Excessive heat can also affect them so do not leave them in the car boot in hot weather.

New plants also need time to settle in to their new qUarters. During this time special care is needed over watering and they should be protected from draughts. Don’t worry, however, if the odd leaf falls off since this is a common reaction to disturbance.

Remember that care over the selection of plants, their transport to your home and their early treatment pays big dividends in the longer term survival of your new houseplants.