Plants can make or break a project. Choosing high quality, healthy plants will ensure that all your hard work pays off in the long run and leaves you with very happy clients. Sick, stunted and miserable plants not only create more work, but leave a bad taste in the mouth of all involved.
To ensure you pick the best plants every time, we have a few key pointers to set you in the right direction.
Check your plants for spots:
As well as burn, limp leaves and general discolouration of the leaves. They overall look of the leaves can give you a good indicator of the over all health of the plant and how it has been treated. What you really want to see are leaves that are lush, perky and true to type with no visible blemishes.
While you’re at it, check for any insect infestations. The odd bug here or there isn’t a worry, but swarms of scale, aphid or mites are going to not only degrade the plant they’re on but likely spread throughout the rest of your project. Thoroughly check over leaves top and bottom and pay special attention to the soft growing tips where pests often congregate. Even if you don’t spot any insects there is often evidence of them, such as wholes in the leaves or sticky honeydew on leaves and the pot.
It’s all in the pot:
Before you even touch the pot you will be able to see if there are weeds taking up residence with your choice plant. Weeds are not only undesirable in your job, but they can be a sign that the plant hasn’t been well tended too and might be stressed from competition or neglect.
A plant in its pot should be a bit like Little Red Riding Hood. Not too loose, not too tight. Too loose and the roots are not sufficiently developed, making them slow to grow and risking extensive damage during transplanting. Too tight they may have been sat in their pots too long and have health issues in their roots. To test, try lifting and wiggling the plants slightly from its base and stick your finger into the soil, down to the second knuckle. The plant shouldn’t move in the soil when lifted and you should still be able to feel soil, rather than just roots, during the finger test.
A good shape now, a great looking plant in the future:
Depending on what your looking at, you will aim for different features in the plant.
In trees you want a structure that is typical of that variety. Fastigiate forms shouldn’t have loose branches blowing around in the breeze. Large spreading shade trees shouldn’t be congested in the center with crossing branches rubbing against each other. Look for strong, thick main trunks and branches that will allow for future growth to develop into a pleasing shape. As trees are so integral to a landscape design it is crucial to choose those that will sit well in the landscape now and into the future.
Shrubs should dense and even in shape. Avoid plants that have a hole in the side of them or are lop sided as these will take a lot of time and pruning to even out. Try not to fall into the trap of thinking taller or bigger is better. It is better to have a good starting point to grow from then to spend the next few years trying to correct the shape.
Strength in the structure of both trees and shrubs is also important. Tall, long or thin specimens often have not received adequate care and are prone to breaking during transport, planting or in the wide. Also look for signs of damage in the trunk and branches which might be a point of weakness.
Only as good as the nursery they are grown in:
Perhaps the first and easiest indicator of how well plant stock has been looked after is to look around at the nursery itself. Is it tidy and orderly with a visible presence of the staff who work there? If the nursery has taken the time to keep the place looking sharp then it’s a fairly reliable indicator that they take the time to maintain their plants as well.
When in doubt?
Ask! If you’re not sure of what you should be looking for in a particular variety, not sure if to go with tree a or tree b, or if you just want to try something different, nursery staff should be able to point you in the right direction.
At Kilby Park Tree Farm we pride ourselves on the expertise of our staff that only comes after years of industry experience. Not only does this lead to superior quality in our stock, it is also means that our customers can plant with confidence knowing they have received the best guidance on offer. That’s the Kilby difference.