Officially it is now spring which means that summer can’t be far away. There is a lot of activity in our gardens as plants re-emerge after their winter rest. Many of us have spent time during the winter months carefully working out lists of the plants we want to grow to achieve just the right effect for our overall scheme. So far so good and then what happens? You’ve guessed – we see a ‘must have’ plant and buy it on impulse regardless of its colour or requirements, ‘after all’, we tell ourselves, ‘we can always grow it in a pot’. Along with most gardeners I find it virtually impossible to be surrounded by any number of tempting plants and not take at least one home. But whatever the reason we are buying plants, whether on impulse or as a result of planning, the same rules apply. Before you buy check carefully and make sure you are getting good value. It is well worth taking the time when choosing new plants to make quite sure they are healthy and in the best condition possible before you hand over your hard earned cash.

Getting the right plant is more than just crossing a name from your list. Having decided on the type of plant you want to buy, the next job is to check its health and strength. By doing this you will be saving yourself trouble later on. Given lots of plants to choose from make sure that you pick the best. Inspect it closely to make sure it is free from pests and disease and has a good shape. You can also save yourself a lot of grief by reading the label and checking that it will thrive in the conditions you can give it in your own garden. Don’t ever forget that those innocent looking little plants on sale at your local garden centre, supermarket or nursery may grow all too quickly into almost uncontrollable giants.

The labels should be informative and give all you need to know about the plant, such as its ultimate size and spread, full name, description and any special requirements – do read them, it can save disappointment later. Avoid any pots that have worn and dirty labels as this shows that the plant has been on display for a long time. Many gardens centres offer a 12 month guarantee which shows a reassuring faith in their plants as well as being good insurance for you.

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