A quarter or two here, a dollar or two there -- saving a little can really add up when shopping for your landscape.
- Do comparison shop. Prices for bedding plants can vary widely. And be sure to check whether the cell packs have three or four plants per pack.
- More may be less. Check prices for larger amounts. Sometimes, for example, buying a flat of annuals (either all of the same plant or a mix of plants) costs less than buying them separately.
- Go for short and stocky. You don't want a plant that's too leggy -- it will never get as bushy, flower, or produce as well as a stockier plant, which will grow up healthy in your garden.
- Avoid flowering plants. Believe it or not, it's best to buy annuals not in flower. That way, when planted, they put their effort into root development instead of flower production, which is important to the health of the plant long-term.
- Buy only healthy plants. It's hard to keep annuals well-watered in the hot sun. Buy only those annuals that look green (assuming that's the color they're supposed to be), healthy, and not at all wilted.
- Stock up. Make sure you've got all your soil amendments, fertilizers, and the like when you're buying the annuals. The plants have a short life span and need to maximize every day. Give them a good jump start.
- Know your light. Plants need full sun, part sun (also called part shade), or they need full shade. Full sun means six hours of direct light a day. Part sun means four to six hours of direct sun a day. Full shade is four hours or less. Observe the light in different spots of your garden over the course of the day and the months and purchase plants accordingly.
Continued on page 3: Shopping for Perennials