As we move into late summer and early fall, local nurseries start to clear out their excess stock of plants. You will often see sales of up to 50% off regular prices, but is this really a good time to buy plants? Yes and no.
It’s tempting to purchase sale plants but a bit of common sense and attention to detail will go a long way in ensuring your purchases are worthwhile.
Many sale plants have seen better days, they have been in the same pots all summer, and have probably dried out more than once. Some may also be infected by pests or disease. How can you tell a good buy from a bad one?
- Take a good long look and inspect these plants.
- Beware if the plant has largly overgrown their pot size.
- Check for dead and yellowing leaves.
- Check for pests and disease.
If these signs are obvious, you should probably just leave it on the shelf. When you plant an unhealthy plant at a time when there is little time left for it to recuperate by the time frosts hit, you will not likely have much success. Often these plants are lovingly put into the garden in the fall but perish over the winter, neither time, energy or dollars have been saved. On the plus side some nurseries will have taken better care of their product and their sale plants will be of a higher quality. You will usually find healthier sale plants at dedicated and specialized nurseries as opposed to big box stores. Careful examination of these plants could lead to some good bargains.
- Check to see how overgrown the plant is. Some roots will most likely be poking through the bottom of the pot.
- Tip the plant out of the pot and observe the root ball. If it is a solid hard mass of roots that even your finger can’t penetrate, forget it. If the root mass is full but still pliable you should be fine.
- When planting you will want to remove any excess roots from the bottom with a sharp knife and lightly loosen the edges by teasing the roots lightly apart. Do not tear the rootball apart for this is too damaging.
- For tall and gangly plants cut them back to growth level before you plant. This will allow the plant to concentrate on root production over anything else.
- Remove any dead or dying leaves. This helps the plant to reserve its resources towards root growth.
- Be sure to provide a good starter hole. Give your plant the best start possible by enriching the hole with organic nutrients.
- Water regularly right up until killing frosts.
Everyone loves a good deal, just make sure that it is! No sense bring home a good bargain just to find that come spring it has disappeared, never to be seen again.
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