Top 10 Common Garden Center Shopping Mistakes

Gardening is a fascinating hobby that can bring beauty to your yard and garden and food to your table. Successful gardening is a lifetime learning process.

Skilled and experienced gardeners have often had to learn the hard way through a system of trial and error.


In this article, we will share ten of the most common mistakes gardeners make while shopping in garden centres. We hope this information will help you avoid some of the bumps in the road to successful gardening!

Avoid These 10 Common Mistakes

1. Focusing on a single aspect of a type of plant: People often make this mistake when purchasing garden plants in the springtime when they are in bloom.

It is easy to have your attention diverted by beautiful flowers so that you neglect examining other aspects of a plant. Beautiful flowers are wonderful in season, but it’s wise to have garden plants that also look good during the remainder of the year.

Pay close attention to the shape and structure of a plant. Examine its foliage. Find out about its growing habits and requirements.

If you do choose a plant that has beautiful flowers but not much else to recommend it, be sure to surround it with other plants that do have features that will offset it during its off season.

2. Purchasing too few plants of a type: It’s tempting just to buy one or two of a variety of plant that seems attractive, but it’s really better to plan your garden in blocks.

Otherwise, you will end up with a disorganized and ungainly mix of lonely plants! When you decide to add a new type of plant to your garden, you should purchase 3-6 specimens to make a good showing and ensure a good survival rate.

3. Rescuing plants: Very often you will see sale racks in the garden center of leftover plants at the end of the season. These are often a motley crew featuring wilted leaves, over-watered or dry soil and a general sickly appearance.

It can be very tempting to pick up a basketful of these plants at bargain prices with the intention of rescuing them, but when you do so you are almost surely wasting your money.

Remember that these plants are leftover because they were not chosen for purchase at the height of their glory, so they probably had something wrong with them to begin with!

Additionally, plants that are sickly may be harboring disease and pests such as spider mites and aphids. Spend your money wisely by purchasing your plants at the right time of year. Choose sturdy, healthy plants that will have a better chance of thriving in your garden.

A wide variety of plants grow better if propagated from seeds. Consider growing them from scratch instead of buying the dying or sick ones.

4. Buying floral plants in full bloom: If you purchase a plant in full bloom, you will not be able to enjoy it for very long.

It’s better to purchase a plant that has one or two blooms and an abundance of plump buds ready to open. In this way, you will be able to enjoy the blossoms for a good, long period of time.

5. Selecting plants that are root-bound: If a pot feels light and/or you see roots growing out of the drainage holes, leave that plant alone. Tangled roots do not absorb nutrients well and may actually have the effect of suffocating a plant.

Conversely, plants that have underdeveloped, shallow roots should also be avoided. These plants are not mature.

6. Failure to read plant information: The nursery label that is attached to each plant provides a wealth of information in terms of plant requirements, space and light needed, ideal soil conditions, bloom times and more.

If you fail to read the information that comes with each nursery plant, you run the risk of planting incorrectly or making poor pairings that will never work well together in your garden.

7. Guessing at the dimensions of your vegetable garden space: Before you ever buy a plant, you must measure your garden and create a workable plan. Keep a diagram so that you always know exactly how much space you have and what sort of plants you need to fill it.

If you are just guessing at the size of your space and you don’t keep a clear chart of the plants you already have, you are sure to end up with a disorganized, cluttered, unsuccessful garden.

8. Neglecting planning by color: Just as it is important to be fully aware of how much space you have and what kinds of plants you have on hand, you should also have some sort of scheme in mind (and on paper) for the colors you wish to use in your ornamental garden.

Pick a pallet for your entire garden or for different sections of your garden and stay within the hues you have chosen for a more uniform and harmonious look.

9. Allowing plants to stay in nursery pots for lengthy periods of time: Nursery pots are only meant to be temporary. If you want a successful garden, it is very important that you place your plants in the ground as soon as possible once you get them home.

If you have kept a chart of your garden space, you should have no problem determining where your new purchases should go. If you must wait a few days before planting your new arrivals, be sure to put them in a sheltered place, out of direct sunlight. Water them lightly to prevent drying out.

10. Failing to ask for help as needed: Nobody can know everything about gardening. When you embark on this fascinating hobby, it is a good idea to join local gardening clubs and to find a good supplier of plants, tools and other necessities.

An established local nursery can be a veritable font of knowledge that can save you a great deal of time, trouble and money. Reading books, magazines and online information is also a great way to broaden your gardening horizons. Naturally, there are also many excellent gardening videos available online.

You can ask knowledgeable staffs or even the shopping center owner if they usually roam around their mini garden city. Some of these stores hire a garden expert or master gardener to answer or help solve complex problems about plants or trees. For any issues with your purchase, you can always contact their customer service hotline.

Save Time & Money By Planning & Choosing Wisely

We hope that the 10 smart tips we have presented here will help you make the most of your gardening hobby.

When you take the time to plan carefully, choose your plants with care and seek out expert advice you can be sure of having a successful and satisfying gardening experience.