Is This A Good Plant?
How do you choose a good plant from one not so good? After all, they aren’t puppies with personalities, but choosing a good plant from a bunch of the same species is easy when you know what to look for.
Firstly let us get some misconceptions out of the way!
Misconception #1 Big is better
A plant with better conformation is better, one that has a proportionate height to width. Tall plants may have been grown in shade, are reaching for light and will have weaker cell structure.
Because it is small does not mean that it is inferior. It may simply be that you have purchased a ground cover instead of a tree. Both may be the same age!
Misconception #2 Bent plants are bad
Well, we all prefer straight, but when it comes to shrubs that are to be pruned right through their lives, in three months time you won’t even know if it was bent or not.
Misconception #3 Yellow foliage is a sign of a poor plant. Not really, it just needs a feed... An application of the missing element will fix them in a flash!
Misconception #4 A mass of roots is good
No, wrong. All plants grown in production have manipulated roots. A pot is an artificial environment and root development is restricted, often times to the plant’s detriment. Coiled roots are not good and should be cut when planting. Circling roots (root bound) when fully expanded can actually kill the plant. Our plants are grown in root trainer pots to avoid this.
Ok, you know what to avoid when buying a plant, so let us examine what you should be selecting.
- Baby Bears Porridge plants, not too big, not too small, just right and appropriate to the species and the container size. Appropriate to the container size is really a comparison between the mass of foliage and observed roots. If you have a well-formed foliage mass and lots of visible fleshy roots then that’s about right.
- A ground cover is a ground cover and will never grow tall. Don’t look for height, look for good lateral growth and a well-formed root system.
- Healthy foliage. This means green all over, not yellow between leaf veins or discoloured on leaf margins (indicative of toxicities/deficiencies). Make sure there is no disease like spots, bugs, scale insects or rust and fungus. Good plants generally exhibit a sheen.
- Straight plants, especially if the trunk is a feature (trees). Make sure that trees have an intact leader, not tip pruned. If they are, branching at that height will result. Plants that are not upright can be corrected by planting at an angle.
- Healthy root systems occupying the whole root ball. The mass should hold together when the plant is tapped out. Generally, a network of fine fibrous roots is a good indicator of a healthy plant.
Sort through the next batch of plants with this knowledge in mind and you’ll get the pick of the litter.