Shop Smart at the Garden Center
- If you're a rookie gardener, try to visit the center on a weekday. The salespeople won’t be overwhelmed.
- Admire the plants in full flower, but buy those that are just budding. Their fireworks will last longer, and the plants will go through less transplant shock. If you must know the flower color, choose a plant with only a few opened buds.
- When you arrive, grab a wagon, and pick up plants as they catch your eye. You won’t have to hunt for those peony hybrids you saw two aisles ago, and it will be easier to imagine how everything will look together. Navigating the nursery is simple once you know how the plant types are usually arranged:
Perennials: Generally arranged alphabetically by botanical name (Hemerocallis), which can often be different from the common name (daylily). Have the staff translate, if necessary.
Annuals: Like shade plants, annuals will often be grouped in a separate covered area or a greenhouse.
Shrubs and trees: Usually grouped in yet another outdoor area and sold in containers, or “b and b” (balled and burlapped) if they are larger specimens.
- Note varieties. Many nurseries have display gardens of plants that thrive locally. Look there for ideas, then hit the aisles, keeping your specific needs in mind.
- Consider the climate. Potted plants are often organized by the conditions under which they flourish―“sunny/dry,” “shade tolerant,” etc. ―so you’ll know which will survive in your garden.
- Decide whether to buy pots or packs. Annuals are frequently sold in multipacks for much less than individually potted plants. If you are planting a large area, save money by going with small specimens; but if you’re planting in a mature bed, bigger is better.