How to Buy Outdoor Plants


Buying outdoor plants requires planning to limit the total cost of bedding plants, perennials and shrubs. A wealth of different plants exist to beautify the home landscape. Buying outdoor plants also requires preparation of garden areas to house the new additions to your landscape. Learning how to buy outdoor plants involves learning a few tricks to get the most plant for your dollar.

Step 1

Develop a landscape plan before buying plants. This plan should outline existing or planned gardens that require additional plants. Create a drawing to scale to assist with making decisions on plant choices. Some considerations include mature plant width, height, sunlight preferences and color schemes.

Step 2

Determine the correct USDA hardiness zone for your area. It isn't likely that a local nursery will sell plants unsuitable for your climate, but having this information allows you to ascertain the hardiness of a plant. USDA hardiness zones reflect the minimum temperature that a hardy perennial tolerates in a climate zone. This information is also listed on most seed packets and plant labels. USDA hardiness zone knowledge is particularly important when purchasing perennials.

Step 3

Visit the nursery to peruse the offerings of annual flowers. Garden centers like to display these single-season plants in full bloom to grab the buyer's attention. Look beneath the blooms for bright green foliage. Examine the plant label to determine each plant's growing needs. Check each plant for signs of neglect, such as dry soil, yellowed leaves, spindly stems and multiple dead flowers. Those blooms might be pretty but it's better to choose annual flowers that have healthy foliage and a good plant label picture showing the bloom color. You'll have a healthier plant that still has plenty of blooming time left.

Step 4

Beware of perennials. Perennial plants return year after year and, as a result, cost more. Nurseries place blooming perennials right in the pathway of shoppers. The problem is that perennials only bloom for a limited time each year. If you buy a blooming perennial from the nursery, the flowers won't last long once it's planted at home. Pull out plant labels and look for the blooming period information.

Step 5

Buy plants in reasonably sized containers. Some nurseries pack a short-rooted plant into a 1-gallon pot and charge accordingly. You're essentially paying for potting soil. Poke a finger down the side of any large planting container. Roots should extend at least halfway down the pot to make the cost worthwhile.

Step 6

Buy plants on Fridays. Garden centers stock new supplies of plants mid-week in preparation for frantic weekend shopping. Friday shopping provides all the benefits of a great selection and none of the crowds.


  • University of Illinois: How to Buy a Plant
  • Colorado State University: Selecting, Buying and Planting Annuals and Perennials
Keywords: buying outdoor plant, buying plants, purchasing outdoor plants

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.