For some of us, a trip to the local garden center or nursery is one of the most exciting times of the year. We’re like kids in a toy store, which also becomes a problem. With so much to choose from, we just want everything – and can often leave with a much heavier car and a much lighter wallet than we initially planned. And while I do have some tips on navigating a toy store with your child without breaking the bank, that will have to wait. Because today we’re focused on plant shopping.
Buds, Not Blooms
I get it. We’re visual creatures, and a plant in full bloom will draw your attention much more than one with buds that have yet to open up. But while it’s tempting to grab the plant in bloom, the smarter play is the one with buds – for several reasons.
The plant in bloom is farther ahead in its life cycle and has less time in full flowering color. The plant with all the buds will give you the most time at its peak once you get it home. And speaking of home, a plant in full bloom is more likely to suffer from transplant shock than one with buds.
If you’re up for doing a little more work, stroll past the blooming and budding plants and head right over to the seed section. We don’t always think about it, but the plants you see in the nursery don’t grow themselves. And their price tag takes into account the labor cost that went into getting them to that stage. However, with a little sweat equity, you could save a good chunk of change by purchasing seeds and growing them from scratch.
EDITOR’S TIP: If you really want to garden on the cheap, try saving your seeds for the next growing season!
Don’t $pring into Action
Spring is the most popular time for plant shopping. With the snow and the cold finally gone, we’re all super excited to get planting. But while I hate to be a buzzkill – I need to tell you, for the sake of your bank account…. wait! Because spring is when everyone rushes to the nurseries and garden centers, that’s also when the prices are at their highest.
While there will be less inventory, you’ll find that the summer and fall offer lower prices. Just like the end of the winter season is the best time to shop for deals on skis and snowsuits, the end of the garden season will provide you with some great deals on plants. Remember, cooler temperatures are excellent for planting perennials, trees, and shrubs.
Check the Roots
When we go to the grocery store, we have no problem squeezing, tapping, smelling, and examining every inch of every piece of produce we buy. So why shouldn’t we be just as scrupulous when selecting the plants we purchase?
While it might seem obvious to give the leaves, buds, and flowers a quick look-see, many of us either don’t think about the roots or don’t feel comfortable taking the plants out of the pot right there in the store. Well, it’s time to get comfortable! It might not be easy with every plant, but turning it upside down will often allow you to carefully pull off the pot, examine the roots, and put it back without issue.
The idea of “shop local” has been a major food buzzword for a few years. And it applies to plants as well. There are many factors to consider when picking what to plant on your property. And none might be more important than where that property is located – meaning the climate and region in which you reside.
Different plant species and varieties won’t thrive in all places. Local growers are growing stuff in the same climate as you are, which means offerings geared to your region and a better chance of success.