Selecting Quality Landscape Plants

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Landscape plants

Checklist for Selecting Quality Landscape Plants 

As Spring arrives and you visit your local garden center to purchase plants for your landscape, remember to examine the plants well before making a purchase. This is regardless of whether you will be purchasing bare-root, container-grown, or balled & burlapped plants.

 A Basic Checklist to begin with:

  • For all plant types
    • Make sure the trunk or stem is not damaged.
    • Make sure there are no signs of insect or disease pests.
  • For bare-root plants
    • Examine the roots to make sure they are not crushed or broken; roots should be moist, not dry or brittle.
  • For container-grown plants
    • Pull the plants from the container to examine the roots – plants should have a well-established root system, but not to point of outgrowing the container or being rootbound. Roots coiled around one another, circling the surface of the container, or coming out of the drain holes are signs the plant is rootbound.
  • For balled & burlapped plants
    • The rootball should be compact and firm; if loose or cracked, the root system may be damaged.

Also consider Form, Shape, and Proportion

  • For all plant types
    • Determine if the above-ground and below-ground parts of a plant top are in proportion to each other. The plant needs sufficient roots to supply the top part of the plant with water and nutrients.
  • For both container-grown and balled & burlapped plants
    • Look for trees and shrubs with full, natural shapes
    • Good form is a sign of quality and care. Plants with good form grow into attractive, natural shapes. The trunks of healthy, well-formed plants are straight in the ball and con­tainer and do not have slanted, twisted, or deformed stems.
    • Avoid plants with major bare spots due to missing or broken limbs. Misshapen trees and plants only look more awkward as they grow.

By starting with a healthy plant you give that plant the best chance to grow and bring enjoyment to your garden for years to come.