Get to the Root of Plant Selection

Lisa Spears

The next time you’re browsing your favorite garden center looking for that perfect WaterSaver plant, take a moment to look beyond the colorful flowers. Take a good, long look at the roots.

A healthy root system is a primary factor in the success of your plants — not the enticing flowers or foliage that attracted you to the plant in the first place. The roots are the life support system for plants. Don’t be afraid to ask nursery staff if you can carefully remove the plant from the pot to inspect the root system.

Look for healthy roots, roots that are white and evenly spaced throughout the pot. What you want to avoid are plants with thin root systems, also known as root-bound. If you don’t inspect a plant’s roots and wind up with a root-bound plant, you’ll need to score the roots or pull them apart before you plant it.

Once you get your plant home remember not to plant it too deep. The surface of the soil in the pot should be even with surrounding soil level. If your landscape has sandy or clay soil, adding a small amount of compost to the hole can’t hurt. Back-fill the hole, water thoroughly by hand with a hose and apply mulch.

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