The Roundup -

By Tim Fine 

A Few Helpful Hints For Filling Up Your Flowerbeds

 


Most people will tell you that they can tell when spring has arrived by watching trees bud out or seeing the grass green up, and while that is true for me as well, there is one definitive item that signals to me spring is here, the greenhouses start to go up and fill up. Some businesses that specialize in other items the rest of the year start to roll out flat after flat of annuals, perennials, and vegetables for you to choose from.

While I would agree that selecting plants to purchase from these retailers is not rocket science, there are a couple of things that you as the consumer can do to make sure that the plant or plants that you have selected have the best chance of surviving once they are taken home and planted.

My first suggestion would be to look at the tag on the plant. At some of the larger chain stores there are plants that come to them from all over the country and sometimes even from beyond our borders. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created a plant hardiness zone. This number refers to a region’s average low temperatures and how well plants thrive in that region. Just so you know, we are in Zone 3 so any plants labeled as Zone 3 or lower should be okay to try and grow here. You can sometimes get away with planting items labeled as being Zone 4 plants, but they may need a little more care and attention.

Another important piece of information on the plant’s tag is where it was grown or shipped from. Most retailers are not going to have plants for sale that were grown in Montana but if you can find ones that were grown in environments similar to ours, you may have an easier time getting them established. A great deal of nursery stock comes from Oregon and those plants should do okay. This is not to say that plants grown in Florida, for example, will not grow here, they just have not been exposed to our growing conditions and may take some time to get acclimated.

After looking at the tag, you will then want to look at the individual plant in the pot or flat. The first thing you should do is brush your hand over the top of the plant. If things start to fly off of the plants, this is probably not a good sign. Although not a terrible pest, white flies are commonly found in nurseries and greenhouses. If there are not a lot of them it probably is not an issue but, especially if the plant is going to be a houseplant, you may want to shy away from purchasing these.

When purchasing items that you are going to transplant, flowers and vegetables alike, you really want to shy away from those plants that are currently blooming. Buds are good to see but if they’re blooming then they’ve already spent a great deal of their energy producing that flower and transplanting now may lead to a little bit of shock to the plants system. When it comes to flowers especially, you are more likely to get a longer blooming period out of the plants if they have not started blooming prior to you planting them.

The last piece of advice that I have is to try and select plants from the center of the tables that the plants are stored on or the center of the grouping of plants. This is not to say that the plants on the edges are of lesser quality and will not grow, but generally speaking, plants located in the center do not receive as much fluctuation in water and temperature as what the ones on the outsides do.

The good news for you, the consumer, is that most growers know about these suggestions and have made a cognitive effort to mitigate these issues. For the most part, employees in these businesses are very knowledgeable and willing to help and offer suggestions. So probably the best advice I can give if you are not sure which plant to select is to ask the help, more often than not they are just as concerned as you are about making sure you are taking home the best possible specimen.

 

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