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Great tips for buying plants


For Weekend Gardeners or Seasoned Veterans

Walking amidst rows of plants in various stages of growth in San Diego Botanic Garden’s propagation area, SDBG’s Former Horticulture Manager Liz Rozycki thinks for a moment before answering the question, “Why purchase plants from a local nursery instead of a big chain store?”

“You really wouldn’t want your yard looking like the plant shop at Target or the local dentist’s office, would you?” Rozycki quips. “And, more importantly, a local nursery has a knowledgeable staff, with a wider variety of California natives and other species of plants that will grow well in Southern California, making your yard look more interesting and unique.”

Locally-owned nurseries can also guide buyers, both novice and more experienced, to plants that will do well in a targeted area of customers’ yards. Rozycki recommends that home owners landscape one area of their yards at a time.

“That way you can focus on what you need in a given area,” elaborates Rozycki. “What hydro zone is it in? Is this space south facing? Getting full sun? If so, you’ll want to purchase tough, water-wise plants.”

Plants purchased to be used in smaller zones in yards, can also be put into the ground in a reasonable amount of time, so the back yard gardening project home owners have taken on for the weekend isn’t so overwhelming.

Rozycki recommends looking out for the following in plants purchased at any nursery including SDBG’s Plant Shop, as a sign of good health, and that they will do well once planted in your garden:

  • New growth
  • Blooms (if in season)
  • Healthy foliage
  • No insects
  • Well established and firmly rooted (not ‘bulging’ out of the pot)
  • Grown under appropriate light conditions
  • Not too ‘leggy’

She also says that it’s always a boon for at-home gardeners, whether weekend or seasoned veterans, to be informed.

“Grab a ‘Western Garden’ book, go online, or Google information about a plant you’re considering for your garden on your smartphone,” says Rozycki. “And don’t forget to plant for all seasons. Winter bloomers are sometimes forgotten but you can plant these gems right now for next winter’s bloom – smaller aloes like Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ or Aeonium ‘Kiwi’ which has a nice variegated look. Or try bulbs such as Velthaimia bracteata (Forest Lily) or  Haemanthus albiflos (Paint Brush Plant) in your garden.”