Top Ten Mistakes

The Top Ten Most Common Gardening Mistakes
made while shopping at the garden center and how to avoid them!

1. Shopping for just flowers, not foliage. Every flowering plant is beautiful at it’s prime – full of lush and beautiful blooms. But how does it look for the rest of the year? Before you buy, consider the plant’s leaves and structure. Include specimens with spectacular foliage, like the annual coleus or decorative grasses to help keep beds interesting when flowers are not at peak.

2. Buying insufficient amounts of a single variety. Taking home only one or two pots of particular specimen is a surefire way to make your garden look hodgepodge. Depending on the size of pot and the type of plant, buy three to five containers of a species for a unified, well-designed look.

3. Purchasing unhealthy or diseased plants. Leaves cab tell you a lot about the health of a plant. Avoid picking specimens with brown, yellow, or wilted leaves, which could indicate poor health or neglect. Inspect the foliage for insect damage like aphids (little green bugs), scale (translucent bumps or blisters), and spider mites (webs). You do not want to spread pests throughout your garden. Instead, go for plants with lush, perky, vibrant looking foliage.

4. Choosing flowers in full bloom. Don’t be seduced by pots with abundant flowers. Instead look for healthy foliage and plump buds. Let the plants peak in the ground at your home, rather than in pots at the nursery.

5. Picking plants with poor root systems. Avoid that is root-bound. You will notice a mass of roots coming out of the bottom of the container. Tangled roots can suffocate and rob the plant of its nutrients. Also, leave those plants with underdeveloped roots to mature longer at the nursery. Gentle lift the plant up from the pot and check the root system.

6. Ignoring the labels. The plastic tags sticking out of the nursery pots contain vital plant information. In addition to water and light requirements – and bloom times if applicable – the labels describe how large a plant will get. While it may seem obvious, mistakes like planting a tall perennial in the front of a boulder or tucking a dwarf variety toward the back of a bed are very common.

7. Not knowing the dimensions of your garden. Bring a photo of the bed you are shopping for and the measurements of the space to the nursery, so that the employees can help you buy the right number of plants, choose the correct size, and choose colors that go well together.

8. Failing to determine a color scheme. All colors can be beautiful, but not all colors can be beautiful together. When you are shopping for plants, don’t think of each one separately, instead consider the plant as part of an ensemble cast. Gardens look best with a specific color scheme. Pick one that you like and stick to it.

9. Waiting too long to put pots in the ground. Try to place plants in the ground as soon as you bring them home. To help you figure out where they should go, set the pots out in the beds where you would like to see them positioned, and then move them around to suit your design. If you have to delay planting, keep the plants in a shady or partially shady area where they won’t dry out and put them in the ground as soon as you can. Don’t leave pots in the hot sun where they will dry out.

10. Trying to do it all yourself. Ask a lot of questions of the nursery staff. Don’t go it alone. Take your business to a local nursery with a knowledgeable crew who are passionate about plants. These businesses are often more adept at knowing what grows best in your region.

Shopping at garden center.

Know before you go to the local garden center.