Plants - Perennials

Get the most out of your perennial purchase

How to scrutinize plants to ensure they'll get a healthy start in your garden

What's in store

When choosing a garden centre, here are some things to look for:

  • Well-maintained plants arranged logically according to growing requirements
  • Labels with photos of the plant in bloom, how-to-grow information and expected height and spread
  • Nursery wagons or carts to hold your purchases while you shop and aisles wide enough to manoeuvre in
  • Staff who can answer gardening questions and make suggestions—or will take the time to find someone who can
  • Display gardens are a bonus—great garden centres often showcase choice perennials in demonstration gardens.

Choose from a wide selection
When buying perennials, look for:

  • Balanced, healthy-looking leaves (abundant new growth indicates a vigorous plant). Browned, stunted or slimy foliage is a sign of damage caused by insects, wilting, frost or disease
  • Short and sturdy over tall and spindly
  • Healthy roots. A soil surface covered with weeds or moss usually indicates the plant has been in the same container too long and may be pot-bound. Such plants may struggle to get established

Beat the rush
The busiest time at any garden centre is a sunny weekend in May—and Victoria Day weekend is usually the worst. If you like to take your time and ask for advice, go at off times: during the workweek, early or late in the day; during the dinner hour; or try a cool, rainy day when you can't putter in the garden.

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