As spring arrives it is very tempting to buy plants, however most important thing about buying plants is buying only when whether is suitable for planting them out. Unless you have a suitable place to provide shelter and protection, do not buy tender plants till the planting season has arrived. It may also happen that the early arriving plants in store are not yet hardened off and need protection from cold weather for some time. If foliage looks like, it may get damaged, protect it by covering with a horticultural fleece for few days, till it get acclimatised.
The perennials, roses, trees and shrubs are good to buy in early season and they will get good time to setup root system before dry summer arrives.
Herbaceous perennials should be bought in early spring. They get a good chance of developing root system and transplant better than when bought in flowers during summer. Cheap small plants in 1 ltr pot can easily catch up with a bigger plant bought later. If you can get a big plant at reasonable price and which is not affected by any pests and diseases, then it can also be a good buy, since you can take cuttings or divide this plant and get many plants from it.
Roses can be dug up and potted up immediately before sale. It perfectly fine and once planted in garden these rose develop well. Avoid any trees, shrubs and climbers which look root bound or looks like recently potted in a big pot of soil with very little root. In either case they will not make any great plant in garden. look for plants with well balanced growth and healthy foliage.
You should wait till beginning of late spring to buy tender plants. By that time the choice will be best and you do not need to baby those plants before planting out. If you are interested in a particular variety and would like to get it early to be sure, then provide shelter for it a greenhouse or cold frame. Remove any flowers to help better growth of roots and plant. Feed the plants with general purpose plant food in half the recommended quantity till they are ready to be planted out.
Checklist while buying plants
– think whether you have a suitable place for it in your garden.
– plant has healthy looking foliage and it looks free from pest and diseases.
– plant is neither root bound, not loosely planted in the pot
– unless you have a sheltered protected place to keep it, do not buy it before it is time to plant out.
– compare the price online, many a times it is cheaper to buy online and you get better collection to choose from.
– avoid plants with soil surface covered with weeds or moss.
– for perennials, it is better to select a plant with no blooms, or few buds than full of blooms. It would be better if plant blooms in your garden, rather than just go for dropping flowers or making seeds after planting out.
– go at off peak time at garden center, so you get time to read labels, carefully observe the plant and take advice from staff.
– while buying a woody plant, avoid the plants with any nick or scar. these points may develop problems later.
– avoid any spindly, leggy plant. these plants would not have received enough light while growing.