Buying Houseplants: Inspect Before You Buy

When buying houseplants you can start with a full-grown specimen or see each new leaf develop and unfold from a small plant--choose carefully.

It is very important that you always take in consideration what you home growing conditions are before buying houseplants; for example, light, humidity, temperature, etc., then buy plants that are suitable for those conditions.

The most important thing to consider is the kind of light they are going to receive, to do otherwise will be a waste of time and money.

Plants should be able to adapt to the amount of light available in your home. Some plants require full-sun, some like bright light without full sun, and some prefer partial shade.

Some tropical plants will go dormant when the temperature drops to 60 degrees F and most will stop growing at 40 degrees F. These plants should be kept in warm areas with humidified air.

On the other hand, cactus and succulent plants will do well in a warm sun room in summer and they can survive in a hot dry environment during winter.

Whether you purchase plants from the grocery store, farmers market, a big box store, from a nursery or garden center, it should be done very carefully.

Good inspection when buying houseplants is the key for success. You should select only plants with whole, firm, healthy foliage with vibrant colors. There should be no yellowing, holes, blotches, or brown edges on the leaves. Also, the foliage must not be wilted or have spindly growth. Avoid plants that have been treated with "leaf shine."

4 Steps for Buying Houseplants

1. Check for pests: Look on the undersides of leaves and carefully inspect the axis where the leaves and stems meet. If you see bugs or anything that looks like webs, cottony masses, or sticky residue, don't buy the plant.

2. Check for diseases: Make sure there are no dark wet spots, light brown patches, or soft sunken areas on the stems. There should be no yellowing, curling, or gray or white powdery patches on the leaves, stems, or flowers.

3. Check the roots: Gently ease the plant from its container. The roots should be white and well-formed and the soil should smell fresh. The plant should have a well developed root system with no roots growing out of the bottom of the pot.

If the root ball is matted and tangled and forms a solid mass, the plant is root bound. When a plant is “root bound” its roots take up all the space in the pot and growth is restricted.

4. Check the buds: If you're buying a flowering plant, look for tight, unopened buds that will bloom later. Plants which have new flowers and leaf buds along with young growth are usually of high quality and will present you with a beautiful display.

Transporting House Plants

Now you have picked a great plant and you need to secure it from the elements and get it home. There are the two seasons of the year that can cause damage to your plants, the hot summer and the cold winter months.

In the summer, you must avoid placing plants in a car and leaving the windows closed. Shield your plants from the sun because the hot temperature will rise and quickly destroy them.

During winter months low temperatures can kill or severely your damage plants. Be sure to cover them thoroughly before leaving the store and place them in a vehicle with heat. Avoid putting plants in the trunk because it is too cold for them.

Remember to always select plants for the light you can provide.