Houseplant buying guide

Houseplant buying guide


Houseplants are available in grocery stores, dollar stores, hardware stores, big box stores, garden centers and even on the 

Internet! Here's a guide to buying the best.

The very best place to buy houseplants is a nursery or garden center, where there are people knowledgeable about the plants and their care and where the plant selection is likely to be the largest, freshest and healthiest, but there is nothing wrong with buying plants at other places as long as a few simple rules are followed.

Be aware of growing conditions. Nothing is more disappointing than falling in love with a gorgeous plant only to have it die because it didn't like the conditions. It's crucial to know basic things like the kind of light the plant’s prospective home gets, the average humidity levels and high and low temps. For instance, a plant like a Calathea will be miserable in a cool, dry home. It needs a fairly high level of warmth and humidity, something that many homes can’t provide. Without it, its beautiful foliage will blacken and shrivel up. It's also important to find out what kind of care a plant needs. An Asparagus fern won't do well in a high traffic area, as its leaves are sharp and prickly and fall off easily.

Check toxicity. If there are children or pets in the home, never purchase a plant without knowing its toxicity level. Many houseplants are poisonous. For example, Ivy plants can cause skin rashes while the leaves of the Pothos plant cause severe vomiting and stomach upset if eaten.

Find out the store's schedule. Getting there the day their shipment of plants arrives gives you a better chance of getting both a good selection and a healthy plant.

Inspect thoroughly. Plants sold in home centers and grocery stores often receive little or no care, making a thorough inspection very important. Pick up the plant and get a good look at the stems and under the leaves. These are where most insects hide. Also check for mushy stems, brown spots, stickiness and other signs of rot and disease. Don’t be afraid to tip the plant out of its pot and inspect the roots or sniff the soil. If it’s moldy, slimey, smells like fish or anything other than fresh earth, or if the roots don’t look firm and healthy, put the plant back.

Separate new purchases. No matter how fresh and healthy a plant looks, it’s crucial to keep it isolated from other plants for one to twop weeks to insure it is free of insects and disease. Once it’s done, it can then move to its new home. Let it acclimatize for four to six weeks before repotting or fertilizing.

These simple rules should help insure smart, successful plant purchases that will enhance any houseplant collection!