How to buy a healthy plants at the nursery?


Do you feel the wave of excitement every time you pass by a plant shop? Do you immediately feel the urge to spend all your life savings on plants? I know I do. And while I am all for being impulsive with buying plants, you still have to make sure you don’t buy plants that aren’t healthy. 

So why don’t you come along with me to one of my favourite nurseries and we can all learn something, and maybe I’ll get to buy more plants? 

Before I leave for the nursery, I check what plants I already have and if I have enough planters/ nursery pots for future plant babies. I also carry a big plastic bag that I can lay down in the car. 

A nursery visit

Some tips to know if a nursery is good: 

  1. The nursery employees should know proper information about the plants and they are actually passionate about plants. 
  2. When you enter the nursery, the overall view should be fresh, green and cool. If you see a lot of the plants are droopy, leggy and look wilted, its possible that the nursery isn’t taking appropriate care. 

A nursery

After I reach the nursery, I get excited like a little child for a while and then when I finally calm down, I get down to business. 

1. Compare the plants:

Comparing a healthy plant with unhealthy one

Once you’ve chosen your plant of liking, you need to pick up 3 or 4 more of the same species and compare to find the best one out of the lot. Be prepared to get some dirt on your clothes, I promise it’ll be worth it. 

2. Let the leaves guide you:

New leavesNew leaves

The leaves should look fresh, not damaged or yellowed or wilted. It is expected that few (1 or 2) leaves could be yellowing or wilting at the bottom of the plant, but that’s completely fine as long as the rest of the plant is healthy. If you see new leaves coming out, that’s a good sign that the plant is thriving. 

3. Look for pests:

Calathea leafCalathea

Inspect over and under leaves and stems for bugs or small pests. The plant should be clean, no black spots, no little white fuzzy mealy bugs, nothing crawling around. While you’re at it, have a look at the soil as well. It shouldn’t have any fungus or bugs. 

4. Roots are important: 

Fern rootsFern roots

When I was a new plant mom, I didn’t know I was to check the roots before getting them home, and I got home a snake plant that had root aphids. These tiny little white bugs that cling to the roots, hence very very hard to detect. So, after you’ve all the above, just loosen the soil away from the pot carefully and lift the plant gently out of the pot and look at the root systems, make sure their healthy. If you're scared to do this, just ask the nursery employee to do that. 

5. Ask a lot of questions:

Even if we think we know EVERYTHING about a given plant, it doesn’t hurt to ask a few questions to the nursery employee. Ask them when they have watered it last, how much sunlight, when was it last fertilised. 

6. Pay for the plant and you’re done:

And hey! Look at that! you’ve got yourself a healthy plant waiting to take that spot in your garden or home. 



Until next time, 

Have a lovely day! 

Gayatri Vaidya 


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