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It makes sense to start with the best and to choose good quality plants that are healthy and true to type, as any problems may not show for years. Many pests and diseases would never appear in your garden in the first place if it wasn’t for you bringing them in on plants or in their compost.

Therefore, where you buy is important and, although it may cost a little more to buy from specialized nurseries, on the whole they offer a bigger range of cleaner and better quality plants than the cheaper “bargains” in the pull-off or on the market stall (where you may still find some very good house plants, but probably only the most commonly in demand and not choice sorts).

Seedling plants are nearly always cheaper and more vigorous than those propagated from slips, cuttings, or buds. Many may be free of disease, but there will always be some that ate affected or, worse still, that proves too vigorous. Propagating your own plants from slips, cuttings, or buds is certainly an inexpensive way to increase your stock of some plants, but it can bring its own set of problems, especially with blackcurrants and raspberries. Never, ever propagate from a plant that looks weak, unhealthy, or not true to type. The worst problem-bearing plants are usually the free ones from other gardeners who should know better!

What should look at?

Having decided which plant you are after, ascertain the best quality option available, for example, you might choose an anthurium or rose plant that is certified virus free, ensuring excellent performance, at least initially, compared with non-certified stock. Plants grown in sterile compost under covet may be free of many soil-borne pests and diseases, compared to soil-grown ones. If you need vegetables, especially aware not to import cabbage related crops, stocks, or wallflowers grown in the soil, as they may bring in clubroot disease. Only buy these if they are grown in sterilized compost!

Tips for buying healthy plants

There are various ways in which you can improve the odds that the plant you are getting is healthy and vigorous. First of all, does it basically look healthy and is there sufficient young growth? Are there plenty of strong young buds or leaves and shoots? If not, keep looking.
Then there are specific dangers to watch out for.

1. Dead and dying patches on the leaves in any quantity are bad signs, as are holes? Especially pea-size notches on the edges, which indicate the presence of vine weevils.
2. If your plant is in the pot, knock it out to see if the roots are healthy and fill the compost, or are old, dying, or wrapped around a hundred times (not a good set of signs).
3. Are there any suspicious-looking grubs, worms, or root aphids? And are there masses of weeds, mosses, and liverworts on top of the compost? These indicate the plant has been sitting around a while.
4. Don’t be seduced by plants that are covered in flowers, however pretty they may be. Much better to buy something in bud or with just one or two flowers, so that you can enjoy the display when the rest open in a day or so.
Severe drought or waterlogging is also such serious signs that you should shop elsewhere.
5. If a flowering plant, it is better to buy with a flower.

What are the factors that you consider except those?

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