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Before You Buy Your Plant – Your Ultimate Healthy Plant Checklist

Before You Buy Your Plants – Your Ultimate Healthy Plant Checklist

The Guide in Choosing the Right Plant to Buy in a Nursery/Plant Shop

Let’s say you already know what type of plant you want to buy and where to put it in your house. And right now you are in a plant shop, ready to burn your money.

There is a vast array of plants, yet you do not know which one to choose. Which one is the healthiest? This one looks big, healthy and strong… or does it?

Did you know there are a lot of things to consider before choosing the right and healthiest plant to be brought home? The good-looking plants on the shelf is not always the healthiest nor the best to buy.

It is always crucial to purchase strong and healthy plants. It will result in lessening the likeliness of bringing pest problem into your plant collection, they establish themselves faster and are more likely to have lesser fuss and maintenance.

Find our easy checklist on choosing the healthiest plant below!


  1. Overall quality of the nursery/plant shop


  • General overview of the nursery/plant shop is healthy

It’s important to take a general overview of the nursery or plant shop. If you see that the majority of the plants are strong and well taken care of, chances are you are ready to burn your money there.

If not, run! One pest-infested plant can affect your entire plant collection. We do not want that to happen, now, do we? If there are a lot of wilted or browned plants in one section, there are good chances the rest of the plants are not given great care.


  1. Foliage


  • The leaves are green, shiny and lush
  • There are plenty of healthy new foliage growth
  • Leaves are not recently pruned

When it comes to plants, do judge a book by its cover. Healthy plants, with the exception of multiple colored and variegated leaves, should display green leaves with bright and even colors.

There are several things to avoid:


  1. Avoid pale, yellowing, browning, and drying edges of foliage. Stressed plants will take time or never recover.
  2. Avoid recently pruned plants, it may indicate that damaged/infested stems have been removed to make the plant look healthier

Plants however, are not always perfect, so here are few imperfections that can be overlooked:


  • Yellowing leaves at the base of the plant is normal if the tips are healthy and growing
  • A couple of pale leaves are not a problem
  • A hole or two in the foliage is usually not a concern


  1. Shape


  • The plant shape is compact, full and sturdy, not long and leggy
  • The plant has multiple stems
  • Branches and stems are in good shape and doesn’t grow in a crisscross mess

Taller and leggy plants is not always better. It could mean the plant has been straining for light and has grown thin and spindly. A short bushy plant will transplant easier and have healthier growth.


  1. Insects & Disease


  • The plants have no/little blackened areas, holes, spots, mushy areas, stickiness, webbing, and distortions
  • No pests found in the undersides of the leaves and the joints of the stems
  • No sign of insects or disease in the container and soil

It is quite normal to have a few pests and insects living in the foliage, but it is not acceptable if it is an infestation. Bringing a plant with a pest problem in to your plant collection will affect your other plants. 


  1. Roots


  • Roots are not growing through the hole
  • Roots are not growing on top of the soil
  • Roots are not pot bound, not growing out of the bottom
  • The plants cannot be lifted out easily
  • The roots are not dry or brittle
  • The nursery/plant shop employee allows you to inspect the plant roots

The roots tell a lot about the health of the plants. We are looking for something in between – not too much, that the root grows out of the pot, nor too little that the plants can be so easily lifted from the pot.

If the roots are pot bound, the plant may be so stunted or stressed it will never recover and a very strong sign that it is lacking in nutrient. If there aren’t many roots and the plant lifts out very easily, it is probably recently repotted and could use more time to be established.

Also, be wary if the employee of the nursery/plant shop doesn’t let you inspect the roots. There’s a high chance the health of the plant isn’t


  1. Stem


  • The plant has thick or woody healthy looking stem
  • No cracks or scars in the stem

Prior damage can weaken a plant or be an invitation for disease or insects. It is better to have four or five main stems and just a few lesser branches, than to have a mass of small branches with one big stick in the middle.


  1. Weeds


  • There are no weeds in the pot

Weeds in the pot signals neglect and plants competing for nutrients with the weeds. Check also if there are weeds hiding under new leaves at the base of the plant.


  1. Buds and Flowers


  • Plant is covered with attractive new foliage
  • Filled with fresh stems and leaves
  • A lot of new leaves in their bud stage
  • Fresh, tightly formed buds

It is so tempting to want to buy a plant that is already covered in flowers or larger shrubs! But did you know that plants in the bud stage will transplant and thrive better than plants in bloom? Other than that, existing flowers will fade quickly. You will get a longer bloom time at home if you purchase a plant that is not yet flowering.

Healthy plant should be covered with attractive new foliage, smaller shrubs are alright, but ensure that they are filled with fresh stems and leaves. Notice if the shrubs are larger, but with very little new growth, those are the plants that are best be avoided to purchase.


  1. Avoid the discounted plants!

There are high chances markdowns of plants are not always a good deal. Inspect thoroughly when purchasing bargains for its overall health. Recent pruning may indicate removal of unhealthy growth.


  1. Ask the green thumb employee

When all else fails or you are just too lazy to follow our guide, find an employee where his/her green thumb is already established. A knowledgeable employee can help in choosing the best plants. You save your time, money and keeping your plant collections healthy.