Buying A Healthy Plant
Buying a Healthy Plant
By: Debbie Gatt
Have you gone into a department store or nursery looking for an indoor plant? Some places are limited on selection. Others just do not look very healthy at all. What do you look for?
You may think because the soil is dried up that the plant is also half dead. That may not be the case at all. Plants are better off with dried soil than overly moist soil. They will bounce back with some TLC and water. You need to investigate the health of the plant. First, look at the leaves. Do you see brown or black spots speckled over the leaf? You don’t want that one. This is a sign the plant has pest problems. Any pest problem is difficult to get rid of. If you see tiny silky webbing, like a spider web, you definitely do not want this one. Those are from spider mites and are very difficult to remove completely. They spread like wild fire throughout the plant. Eventually they suck out the life of the plant and it dies. Another sign to look for is tiny flying gnats around a plant. They are a problem as well. It is easier to get rid of them, but why buy something that isn’t healthy.
Next, check out the stem area where it is closest to the soil. Is there a darkened area near the soil and it feels or looks a bit soft? This is a very good chance of root rot. When plants get over watered and are not allowed to dry out before you water again, they will eventually get root rot. It is just a matter of time before they will die on you. While you are looking at the stem area, check the soil. If you see a powdery white substance scattered around the top of the soil, it may be mildew. This may become a problem down the road. It will all depend on how you take care of your plant. This one is easier to fix. You can just repot it with fresh soil and do not over water it.
When you look at a plant that has nice thick stems, most the leaves are similar in shape and size, no tiny speckles of any type, and the soil does not show any signs of mildew, this is the one you want.
Another trick of buying from department stores is to find out when a new shipment of plants are due to arrive. They will be in the healthiest condition. Once they have been sitting around for a while on the shelf it is a breeding ground for pest problems. They spread quickly from plant to plant. These plant pests cause no problem for your household. They are only attracted to the plants. Most of them are microscopic. The ways to detect the bugs are the signs they leave behind on the leaves, stems, and soil. Proper care of your plants will prevent pest problems. Enjoy your plant shopping!