Choose the best plants at the garden center
By: Garden Gate staff
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Buy the healthiest plants
Get your containers off to the best start with the healthiest plants! When you’re at the garden center, check inside the nursery pot for a glimpse at the roots. Just gently tip the pot to the side and squeeze. Hold the crown of the plant between your fingers and carefully slide out the root ball.
Ideally, you’ll find roots that have filled the pot and are beginning to circle at the bottom, like the ones at left. These will give you a good start and make transplanting to your container as easy as possible.
Keep clicking to see what else you might find.
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If you discover roots that are barely starting to fill the pot, chances are that plant was just moved up from a smaller nursery container. In this photo, you can see how the roots don’t reach the wall of the container yet and the soil around them is falling apart.
A plant with small roots won’t take off quickly — expect a bit of a wait once it’s transplanted.
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A root-bound plant like this has roots that are tightly wound and wrapped within the pot. Tipping it out of the container reveals a dense mass, but you’ll probably be able to see overgrown roots just by looking at the bottom of the pot.
Bring home a plant like this, and it’ll take some effort to separate and trim the mass. Make sure roots don’t keep circling as they grow, which can eventually strangle the plant. Unwind or cut open the root ball and it’ll recover but not without some time.
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Once in a while, you can tell there’s a problem just by looking at the soil. The plant here was so dried out, there was a sizeable gap between the wall of the container and the soil inside.
While it’s possible to restore moisture, a plant this dry could remain weak into the season.