By: Garden Gate staff
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Get to the roots
Shopping! It’s one of the funnest parts of growing containers. But you want the highest quality plants at the best value. Whether you’re at a home improvement store or your favorite garden center, a quick look at a plant’s roots can tell you how successful it’ll be once you get it home.
And it’s easy to do: With your fingers over the pot, straddling the stem, tip the plant out — don’t worry, you won’t damage a healthy plant. Click ahead to find out if what you discover is worth your investment in time and money.
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A smooth transition
Healthy roots like these will give you a good start — they fill the pot and are just starting to circle at the bottom. Notice how the ball of soil holds together well here? That’s another sign these roots will transplant easily.
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See how the roots are only now starting to reach the wall of the container? Odds are this plant was just moved up into a larger pot. It won’t take off as quickly as one with its roots already filling the soil.
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When you find roots poking out of the drainage holes like they are here, there’s sure to be a mass of roots once you tip the plant out, too. Plants like these will recover, but you’ll lose growing time.
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Leave it behind
Sometimes you can smell rotting plants in sopping wet soil without tipping them out of the pot. It’s been overwatered. A withered top like the one here is a sure sign of rotten roots, too — steer clear.