Starting off on the right root Choosing healthy plants

Suppose you had to choose between three plants at the nursery — all the same variety and all in the same sized containers. One is huge and in luscious bloom, the second is mid-sized, and the third hasn't even grown out to the edges of the pot. Which would you pick?

Most people would pick the first one, thinking it was the better deal because it was already fully grown. That would be the very worst choice in most cases, because it's probably root-bound. Roots that circle in the pot, as they do when confined for too long, continue to circle in the ground and never grow out into the soil. The plant that looked so great at the nursery will slowly decline, and when you pull it out after a couple of years, you'll find little or no root development.

The best choice in most cases would be the mid-size plant. If you were to carefully remove such a plant from its container, you'd find roots that are just beginning to emerge from the root ball and touch the sides of the container. The soil would be solidly knitted together with no circling roots, and it wouldn't fall apart as would a younger plant.

Here are a few other things to keep an eye out for:

  • Look at the crown of the plant, which is where the stem enters the soil. You shouldn't see any circling roots there either.
  • Beware of plants with roots growing out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot; those guys belong on the compost heap.
  • Check the above-ground parts of the plant, looking for good structure. You don't want any broken, crossing, or rubbing branches, and the overall shape of the plant should be roughly symmetrical in most cases. Look for an abundance of growth buds, indicating vigor.
  • Be sure no pests or diseases are evident, and watch for yellowing of the tissue between the veins or any other abnormal coloration that may indicate nutrient deficiencies or other problems.

Of course every plant is different, so these are only very general rules. Don't assume that every plant offered for sale is in good condition. Check each one carefully.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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