The following tips will help you select the best potted herbs in the garden centre.
Quality of the nursery
Take an overview of the plants in the nursery. Do they all seem healthy and well cared for? If you have doubts rather visit the next nursery.
Flowers can be misleading. Try your best not to buy a herb simply because it’s in flower. First, perform the rest of the checks. If all seems fine, indulge. Beware of annuals that are in flower. It means that they are near the end of their lifecycle.
As herbs without flowers transplant better than those in flower, you will anyway remove the flowers when you plant them in your garden.
Evaluate the general condition of the herb. Are the leaves green, shiny and lush? Avoid any plants that are wilting or yellowing. They may or may not recover.
Inspect the leaves closely for signs of insects or disease. Check both sides of the leaves. Look for blackened areas, holes, spots, mushy areas, stickiness and distortions.
Don’t reject a herb just on account of a few holes.
Consider the shape of the herb. Is it compact and full of multiple stems? The bushy herbs will normally produce a better harvest than the long leggy ones.
Choose trees and standard plants with a strong, straight trunk or stem. Look for scars or damage on the stem or trunk.
Avoid herbs with broken stems and branches.
Potting soil in the pot
Check for weeds and moss. Weeds are a freebie you don’t want. It usually signals some neglect on the part of the nursery staff. Nothing more.
Moss indicates over-watering or a nutrient shortage.
Don’t reject a great plant just on account of a few weeds and bits of moss.
Knock off the pot to take the herb out of the pot – gently! Take a look at the roots. A good herb will fill its pot with roots.
If you can’t knock off the pot, its “pot-bound”, but if it’s healthy, buy it. It’s obviously a good grower.
If there aren’t many roots and a whole heap of potting soil falls out its root system is too small. Put it back.
When all is said and done…
If you’ve just got to have the herb, go ahead and buy it. With a little bit of pampering, it just may defy the odds.
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