Smart Shopping Tips for Your Spring Planting

Smart Shopping Tips for Your Spring Planting



Ready to start planting?  Here are some tips for shopping smart!


It’s finally time to start planting – but before you plant, you shop.  With garden retailers preparing for the predictable spring surge in business, shoppers need to prepare themselves for the best shopping experience ever.


Before You Head Out Plant Shopping


Here are a couple of things you should know/do before you begin your spring plant shopping:


Know how sunny your garden is.

Watch your garden and figure out whether the area you want to plant in is in full sun (i.e. it gets 6 or more hours of direct sun a day) or not. This is key information to have—some plants won’t thrive in less than full sun and some plants will wither with that much sun. This rule applies to all plants, whether you’re looking to buy perennials, pretty annuals to fill a pot, trees, vegetables, or herbs.


Snap some photos of your garden with your phone before you go shopping.

Once you get into the garden center, there is so much selection it can be overwhelming. Having a photo with you will help you remember what planting hole or pot you came to fill and how big it is. And, if you need to ask a staff member for help it will make it a lot easier for them to give you good  advice if they can see your space instead of hearing “well, I need something to plant in the backyard, in front of the rosebush, beside the Hostas, well, I think they’re Hostas—is that what you call those things with green leaves that grow low to the ground?”

Bring close-up, in focus shots of the leaves of any plant you’re looking for help with identifying, as well as a picture of the whole plant, and, if it flowers, a picture of the flowers with you.

Once you’re in the garden center, read the tags on the plants — they’ll tell you whether the plant needs full sun or tolerates shade, and tell you how big it will get (height and width). Between the information on the tag and the homework you did before you left the house, you’ll be well on your way to buying the right plants for your garden!


Here are some tips for getting the very best plant value while shopping this spring.


Perfect is Imperfect

All of us do it:  we automatically reach for the perfect flowering plant, like a hydrangea in full bloom, a pot of pansies brimming with color.  The fact is, though, a plant brimming with color is soon in decline.  This is true of plants that bloom at their very best once a year, like a hydrangea, but not so much a season-long performer like a geranium.  Choose plants that are in flower bud, not in flower, and enjoy a longer bloom cycle.


Avoid Root-Bound Plants

Often, plants have been grown past their peak.  The easiest way to determine the quality of the plant you are buying is to pull it gently from the pot. Retailers won’t mind that you do this, as long as you’re careful not to spill soil everywhere.  The pot should be 50 to 70% roots, with the balance, a quality potting mix. 

If the roots twirl around the inside of the pot, they are likely to sit in your garden in shock.  pull tightly woulnd roots apart before you plant (or avoid root-bound plants in the first place).


Autumn Stock is a Good Bet

Some retailers store their leftover stock from last fall and bring it out for sale carly in the spring.  This stock may perform very well in your garden, as the plants are generally more established and “hardened off,” therefore more tolerant of frost than new stock fresh from the greenhouse.


Imperfect May Be Temporary

Experienced gardeners know that some of the best plant deals are at the back of the store, where less than perfect specimens are often offered at discount prices. 

Something like a broken branch or a scar in the bark that can be overcome with time or pruning.  In a few years, a tree or shrub that is imperfect at the time of purchase can look great; patience and pruning can really pay off!


Seeds Save Money

Many plant shoppers forget to go inside the store to peruse the seed racks.  The truth is, many herbs, annuals, vegetables and perennials grow easily from seed and they always cost much less than plants.


Divide and Save

Some of the best plant deals at this time of year are not at retailers, but at local horticultural society or master gardener meetings, and even sometimes at garage sales.  The divisions from someone else’s Hosta or Daylily can take root and perform very well in our garden this season, and save you a lot of money.



For that matter, if you have perennials of your own in your garden that are several years old, chances are that many of them can be dug up, divided with a sharp spade or knife, and planted around your garden.



Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some helpful information on spring plant shopping. 

You may find some terrific planting ideas and inspiration at the new Amazon Plants Store!

I welcome your comments below.






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