I’ve been talking about shopping for bargain plants on the clearance shelf at garden centers so I thought I’d come up with some buying tips. Once the spring and summer buying rush is over you can find plans discounted 25-75%. I’ve picked up several perennials for $1 and even free in late summer this year.
· Save gas by calling garden centers first to see if sales have started.
· Check the small multi-plant bedding containers to make sure there is a live plant in each cell.
· Choose young plants that haven’t flowered yet and pick a bushier plant over a spindly one.
· Examine roots by sliding the plant carefully out of its pot; buy plants with plenty of white, healthy roots but not one so crowded that it is pot bound.
· Inspect leaves and roots for insects or diseases that will weaken plants or spread them to your other garden plants.
· Buy several of the same color and type of plant so you have enough to fill in pots and beds.
· Before planting at home prune blooming annuals 1/3 to ½ to encourage bushier growth and more blooms.
· Massage the root ball when removing a plant from its pot to release any tangled roots.
· Plant purchase as soon as possible, watering well.
· Group your new plants according to sun or shade requirement.
· Fertilize annuals following package direction, using a high–phosphorous product such as 5-10-10. (the middle number indicates phosphorous)
Many bargain plants look scruffy but with careful buying practices and some TLC they can soon be providing some color to your garden. Perennials may not produce until the following summer but at the bargain price it is worth the wait and fall is a great time to get these plants started in the garden giving them plenty of time to develop new roots and growth for next summer.