How to Buy Houseplants
by Ruby Bayan
Houseplants come into your home in many ways and from various sources, like holiday gifts from family and friends, swaps with neighbors and fellow gardening club members, and cuttings or seedlings from your own yard. But if you want to go out and acquire new plants on your own, what should you look out for? Here's how to buy houseplants that will thrive in your home.
What you'll need:
Books on plants (or access to the Internet)
A good eye
What to do:
1. Know your plants. Before going out to buy, do a little research on the plants you want to acquire. What are their lighting and temperature requirements? Where are their designated locations in the house? How many will you need to buy to keep them healthy (clustering houseplants help maintain good humidity levels, and rotating identical plants helps remedy low-light stress)? How big are they when full grown?
2. Shop at reliable garden centers, commercial greenhouses or nurseries, botanic or specialty gardens, or florist shops. These places have knowledgeable staff that can give you tips on how to best care for your plants. They are also careful about keeping only healthy plants in their gardens, and will most likely offer guarantees on their sale.
3. Shop at supermarkets, coffee shops, county fairs and garden shows only if you are familiar with the plants you want to buy. Because these places are not established plant sellers, the items might be mislabeled, stressed, or already dying.
4. Inspect the leaves. All the leaves should be healthy. Brown tips, wide spaces between fronds, yellowing or limp leaves and branches, and dusty or grimy surfaces are distress signals of poor health or improper care.
5. Inspect the soil. Presence of algae or chalky residue on the soil or the pot is a sign of poor plant care. Roots coming out from under the pot means the plant is cramped and pot-bound. Soil should not smell rotten.
6. Inspect for insects and disease. Anything unusual sticking to the leaves (especially underneath) can signal one of many possible problems. Choose only clean plants.
7. Plan your plant buying trips carefully. Especially during times of extreme hot or cold weather, be sure the transit time is short, to minimize stress to the plants. Wrap them in plastic or paper bags if necessary.
8. Prep the newly bought plants before incorporating them into your home. Let plants acclimatize in a bright area away from direct sun for a few days before putting them in their designated places.
Take note of where the plant is situated in the vendor's site. Full-sun plants will be out in the open; medium-light plants will be under a black netting or awning; and low-light plants will most likely be indoors.
When in doubt, quarantine plants that might introduce unwanted pests. Wrap them in clear plastic bags and observe for insects or other creatures.
HGTV: Choosing Houseplants
Contributed to eHow.com by Ruby Bayan, Home & Garden Topic Expert 2007-2010
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