Advice on how to buy a plant when in a nursery



When you enter a nursery you are delighted by the quantity of plants and the scents that permeate the air, and we would like to buy everything, especially the most showy and colorful plants. We decided to make this article precisely because very often an impulse purchase often results in an equally rapid die-off of the plants we bought. This for many reasons ... Let's try to understand together what they are.

By browsing inside a nursery, if you do not have a clear idea of ​​what you want to buy, you start turning attracted now by this, now by that plant, until you decide for a certain plant. you have to decide, among the many displayed on the counter, which one to buy. This isn't an easy decision because the prettiest plant on the shelf isn't necessarily the healthiest plant, nor is it the best purchase. In fact, there are some things that are important to observe in order to ensure a good purchase. First of all, check the general phytoiatric aspect, that is, check the health status of all the plants in the nursery, not only of a particular species. If many plants have a sickly and neglected appearance, I recommend that you go to another nursery ... Better prevention, than cure! It is also important to carefully check the plants of the counter where there is the plant you want to buy and if you find any with mites, aphids or other parasites, most certainly will be and therefore also the one you are going to buy, so it is better to leave it alone.

At this point, if the first two steps have been passed, you need to choose the plant you want by carrying out the following checks:

  • check that there are no parasites and signs of disease;
  • avoid tall trees and especially those with a slender stem: a bushy plant even if lower, will be transplanted more easily and will grow better;
  • it is essential that the earth in the pot is a healthy, compact clod of soil that fills the whole pot. This may lead us to suppose that the roots of the plant are healthy, numerous and robust;
  • it is better that some roots come out of the drainage holes of the pot as this indicates that the plant has strong roots that grow luxuriantly provided that they are not dry or brittle;
  • it is good that some roots are also present on the surface of the pot because it means that they are healthy and lively;
  • It is important to observe the stems and branches as they will determine the shape and fullness of the plant. The main stem should be thick and healthy. Better if there are four or five main stems and numerous minor branches, rather than having a mass of small branches with a large trunk in the middle;
  • the stems must be evenly spaced around the plant (unless, of course, it is a single-stemmed plant such as in the dracena);
  • check that there are no abrasions, breaks or other damage on the stem that could slowly kill the plant;
  • the leaves must be clean and show no signs of withering. They must look strong and healthy and the color must be bright; also check their margin to see if it is dry or browned which always indicates problems. A single burnt leaf can indicate the suffering of the whole plant;
  • if the leaves are shiny beyond measure, it means that the nurseryman has sprayed them with foliar polishes: a dispassionate advice? Go away and find another nurseryman. In fact, those who behave like this do not care about the health of the plants but only about their wallet. In fact, foliar polishers obstruct the stomata of the leaves preventing the normal physiological functions of the plant, namely photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration and since the nurseryman knows that in this way it damages the plant but not its wallet, it is better to avoid it. ;
  • flowering plants should have fresh flowers and above all have numerous well-formed shoots. In fact, if the plant has no buds but is just all in bloom, don't expect flowers until next year. This applies to many plants and especially rhododendrons, azaleas and other flowering shrubs, but some perennials and annuals have an extended flowering period over time, so this is not a major concern with these plants, but should be considered.

Once the plant is home, don't repot it right away. In fact, the plant is passing from a protected and optimal environment in terms of light, humidity and temperature, to your home or garden so leave it time to acclimatise: if it is a plant that must stay at home, wait at least a month before repotting, preferably the following year. If, on the other hand, the plant is to be planted in the garden, give it time to acclimatize by keeping it at the beginning in the shade and gradually moving it to the sun, a little at a time keeping the soil well irrigated and then planting it in the garden, possibly on a cloudy day.

In any case, it is always good to read up before going to a nursery to buy a plant to find out what it is possible to grow in our home or in our garden. In fact, the plants cannot go around if a certain place does not suit them and considering that all they have to live are those few centimeters of soil ... Well better waste a few minutes to find out rather than unnecessarily let a poor plant die. I'll give you an example: I love Medinilla, they are nothing short of amazing plants so much that I couldn't resist the temptation and I bought one (with a lot of doubts and perplexities). I arrive home and place them on the coffee table in the living room: excellent lighting but I was very very perplexed about the temperatures that are certainly not tropical in my home. After about a month I see that the plant goes on almost slowly, it has several shoots but they are blocked, they do not grow. One fine day I realize that a leaf was split ... ugly, very ugly symptom ... A little later the plant died and you know what? Cold. So, beyond our pleasures, we must take into account where we are going to put a plant and whether it will survive in the place where we will place it. This very important topic will be the subject of a future article.

How to grow chestnuts: a few rules for obtaining delicious chestnuts

How to grow chestnut to have good fruit and healthy plants? The answer to every question in this simple guide to get to know the chestnut tree in depth.

The chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill., 1768) is a fruiting plant widely spread in Italy.

L'chestnut tree and is capable of reaching 25-30 meters in height, and due to this size it is generally not grown in home gardens.

L'chestnut tree it is characterized by a squat green stem and a well developed and dense foliage, suitable for picking the fruits. The leaves have an elliptical shape and green color, initially covered with hair at a young age, then leaving room for a more shiny tone.

The fruits of the chestnut tree, or chestnuts, they are enclosed in prickly curls that house from one to three chestnuts each. The production can vary from year to year, both in quantity and in size of the fruit.

Both male and female flowers bloom on chestnut trees, thus favoring self-pollination and self-fertility in some species, however, they tend to bloom exclusively male flowers, which is why chestnut plants of different types are grown in close spaces. This is the case with some qualities of chestnuts.

What types of lives to graft?

When we talk about grafting of the vine, there are many elements to take into account and the first of these is the variety of grapevines you are dealing with.

Grafting of the vine is a propagation technique that serves to make plants more productive and strong

It is well known, in fact, that not all vines need grafts, those that are born in turn from a graft have no need for this practice, while the varieties born from seed must necessarily be grafted.

Long story short: all varieties of wild vine, including also fall Italian vine and American vine, they need grafting, but you will have to pay close attention to the qualities of plants that will be grafted together.

The American vine is particularly resistant to the filossera and, often, it is used as rootstock for the propagation of new European vine plants since they are plants belonging to the macro-category of wild grapevine and used for production of grapes and wine.

Mixing this type of life with an ornamental variety like the Canadian one would have no benefit.

Where to grow chestnut

Choosing the right place for chestnut cultivation is even more important than knowing the best techniques to take care of the plant.

How to grow chestnut it is a correct question, but it is essential to choose the right soil for the cultivation of the chestnut plant.

Chestnut trees, as we have seen, should not be grown alone. At least two trees must be initially placed at a distance of 6-7 meters from each other, preferably of two different varieties.

The land on which to grow the chestnut must meet very specific characteristics:

  • slope: the chestnut historically prefers the sloping sides of a hill or a low mountain. When the land is excessively sloping, however, production is also reduced by a third compared to chestnut crops that grow on flat ground.
  • acidity: the chestnut develops well only on acidic or subacid soils. The acidity of the soil is a fundamental condition for the chestnut to develop properly. A soil is acidic when its pH is below 6.8 and has no active limestone inside. This factor must be verified before planting the chestnut, otherwise it turns out to be an unproductive investment.
  • rain: the fruit chestnut needs not less than 600/700 mm of annual rainfall, spread over several months and not concentrated on a single period. Since it is impossible to adequately distribute this level of rainfall, it becomes essential to have a lasting irrigation system with gradual release, to guarantee the right quantity and the right delivery time.

On the ideal soil for growing chestnut, it can still be said that it must be permeable, in order to avoid stagnation of water, which is fertile and deep.

Which type of graft to choose?

There are many ways of grafting the vine and the debate on which is the best is obviously very heated.

Typically, the types that give the best results there are two:

  • Double split graft
  • Omega graft

Let's see the details together.

Double split graft

Also used for olive trees, grafting with double English vent it is relatively simple and consists in cutting the largest branch of the plant and then creating two oblique incisions: the first will make the surface of the cut smoother, the second (which must be about half the length of the first) will be used to create two tabs in the rootstock.

The same treatment must also be applied to the scion.

The graft takes place by interlocking, matching the tabs of both plants, tying the parts, taking care not to choke the branch and isolating the exposed surfaces with mastic.

Check out our blog to learn more about split grafts.

Omega graft

This propagation technique is often applied to the vine because it allows for stabilize the outflow of lymph and guarantees good healing.

What makes it possible to limit the leakage of lymph is precisely the type of cut applied, a eyelet shape.

At this point, the scion with the buds, carved so that it fits perfectly into the concave part of the rootstock, is made to match the plant that will host it.

To weld the graft, it will be necessary to tie the cut point with rope or insulating tape, just as it will be very important to spread some mastic on the terminal part of the graft.

Double split graft or omega graft: the important thing is to do them well

How not to kill a houseplant

Among the various criteria by which houses can be divided, there are plants: there are houses with plants and houses without plants. This small guide, put together by consulting other online and printed guides, is designed for those who live in a house without plants but would like to live in a house with plants and in particular with indoor plants. Taking care of a plant is not impossible if you learn starting from the basics and choosing a plant that is difficult to kill: our guide begins from this aspect, which then continues with various tips on pots, watering cans and other useful objects, but also manuals for keeping plants at home and some Instagram profiles to follow to find inspiration.

Which plant to choose, to begin with

Most of the online guides to learning how to keep plants indoors recommend some types of plants that are more difficult to kill. Obviously among these there are succulents, which need little water. But if your goal is to learn how to take care of a plant that still requires some attention, you can start with one Zamioculcas Zamiifolia. In English it is called "ZZ plant"Because of its scientific name, in Italy it is commonly called" zamia ", even if it is a misnomer: the zamias are a genus of American plants with intermediate characteristics between palms and ferns and the Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, originally from Tanzania, in Africa, was so named because the arrangement of its leaves resembles those of plants of the genus Zamia.

It is a plant with several fleshy stems that sprout directly from the ground and reach a maximum height of about 60 centimeters, its leaves are fleshy and shiny. According to Jane Perrone, a British journalist who produces On the Ledge, a podcast on houseplant care, Zamioculcas "can be left for months in a cupboard" without dying.

The authoritative Handbook of indoor plants by botanist David Gerald Hessayon, first published in 1960 in the UK and reprinted ever since, gives these instructions for the care of Zamioculcas:

Temperature: hot or medium-hot, not lower than 16 ° C in winter.
Exposure: slight shade.
Watering: limited in winter, allow the upper part of the soil to dry before watering again.
Atmospheric humidity: spray the leaves from time to time.
Repotting: in spring, if necessary.

Another plant that is easy to manage for those who have never had one is the aspidistra, also called "iron plant" for its survival skills. It is native to East Asia and Africa, can reach a height of about 70 centimeters and has large, deep green and glossy leaves, streaked with white in some species, which however are more delicate. If you have already heard of it, it is likely that it is because of the George Orwell novel Aspidistra will flourish (Keep the aspidistras flying, in the original), in which this plant is a symbol of the middle class but also the object of mistreatment by the protagonist.

Keep the #Aspidistras flying.

A post shared by Chris Taylor (@hydropiper) on Apr 28, 2018 at 8:11 am PDT

Hessayon's manual gives these instructions for taking care of it:

Temperature: medium-warm keep cool, but avoid frosts in winter.
Exposure: not in direct sun, it also tolerates low light.
Watering: regular from spring to autumn, moderate in winter.
Atmospheric humidity: it tolerates dry air, but occasionally wet the leaves.
Repotting: every four or five years, in the spring.

That said, another advice from the experts to start keeping plants at home is not to buy many plants all together, taken with enthusiasm: it is better to start with one or two to get carried away and be able to keep an eye on them to notice quickly. If there is any problem. In case you don't like the ZZ plan and the aspidistra, the editors of the Post a little more passionate about plants (and, it must be said, not too adept at keeping them alive anyway) recommend the Beaucarnea recurvata and theAloe vera, like other hard-to-kill plants.

The first, a small sapling with long leaves of which there is a specimen at the home of Deputy Director Francesco Costa, is a "neglect plant": it stores a lot of water in the trunk and therefore can survive for a long time even if neglected. The second, which you probably know by reputation as an ingredient in cosmetic products, has excellent shooting skills: just remember that she doesn't like direct sunlight.

If you want to buy these or other plants online, an interesting site to consult is that of the Le Georgiche nursery in Brescia, which ships plants and tools for growing throughout Italy (orders can be made through your Amazon account, for those who have it ) and both with his blog and with his Instagram profile he gives good advice.

What it takes to take care of a plant

In short: pots (usually those in which plants are sold to you are not good for holding them for long), soil, a watering can (for some people having a nice one can be an incentive to use it), a spray bottle to wet the leaves , and, depending on the case, some other object on which to place the vases. Then in some cases more sophisticated tools are needed, such as carrots for irrigation for when you are not at home for a while and lamps that promote plant growth, as well as pesticides and fertilizers if needed.

As for the vases, the best thing to do to understand what size they must have is to ask the nurseryman from whom you buy the plant in question for directions. Perrone suggests repotting the plants in the final pot within a week of purchase, in order to allow the plant to acclimate to its new location, since being moved is always a bit traumatic. In addition to the classic terracotta pots, which are usually preferred because they absorb excess water (you can also buy them on Amazon), you can consider purchasing a plastic pot designed for a long stay: the editorial staff of Wirecutter, the reliable object review site of the New York Times, recommends the Saturn vases from the American company Bloem, made of recycled plastic.

They are inexpensive, come in various colors and are lighter than traditional pots, which is very handy when you need to move a plant or put it in a sink. They are also equipped with a built-in saucer: keep in mind that in general the saucers are used to collect the water that is not absorbed by the soil, so they are useful. There are different sizes of Saturn: on Amazon those with a diameter of 12.7 centimeters cost 5 euros, those with a diameter of 25.4 centimeters 12.20 euros, those with a diameter of 30.5 finally 15.20 euros. The only drawback is that they are not good for very tall and heavy plants, precisely because they are light.

For those who are afraid of forgetting to water the plants, an alternative to common pots can be self-watering pots, which tend to be used on balconies. They work thanks to water tanks. Some of these pots, for example those of Lechuza, have a water level indicator that allows you to easily check if there is in the right quantity for the first three months after repotting the plant must be watered normally, after which the roots are they will be stretched enough to take the water from the tank and it will be enough to rely on the indicator to understand when (much less often) and how much to water. Another advantage of these pots is that they don't need a saucer. The white model below, one of many, costs 26 euros, has a diameter of 27.9 centimeters and is 25.4 high.

For those who give a lot of importance to the role of decorative object of plants - and therefore have more refined vases in mind - another useful object can be a vase holder: if you do some in-depth research on Etsy you could find very elegant ones, just pay attention to size.

For what concern topsoil, for most houseplants the so-called universal soil is fine, while garden soil is unsuitable because it risks becoming muddy when watering. Succulent or succulent plants are an exception, so it is better to choose a more sandy soil made on purpose. When you repot a plant, especially if it is of a species that prefers repotting widely spaced over time, you can buy a soil made specifically for repotting, that is, more nutritious.

Among watering cans, Wirecutter recommends the Ikea Bittergurka, which costs 10 euros, has a simple yet sophisticated design and is very roomy. If that's not your thing, the amount of watering cans you can choose from is huge. Among the criteria for choosing one - in addition to price, ease of filling and capacity - there is certainly personal taste: you should choose a watering can that reminds us to water. Among the smaller ones, from a liter or so, suitable for houseplants, and not very expensive, to the editorial staff of Post they liked this white, this one of steel and this one with the style of an old-time British gardener, which also has a removable rosette for sprinkling.

As for how much and how often to water your plant, it obviously depends on the type of plant you have chosen and the season (it is true that they are plants that are in the house, but heating and air conditioning also affect them): in general it is good to know how moist your plant's soil needs to be and to touch it regularly to make sure it is in the right conditions. The Hessayon ​​manual explains that one must:

Water in the morning do not water if the sun shines directly on the pot. The pot must stand on a drip tray (saucer or tray) or in a waterproof pot holder. Pour the water slowly, using a watering can with a long spout. Put the end of the spout under the leaves and near the edge of the vase, pour the water slowly so that it is absorbed everywhere and, after 10 minutes, check. If the drip tray is dry, water again. Empty the drip tray or pot holder after about 30 minutes.

This unless your plants are those that prefer to receive water by immersion, such as orchids: in general, for this type of plants, you can wait longer before repeating the irrigation operation. There are also plants that prefer not to receive water from above, but from below, that is, from the saucer: for example cyclamen. Ask your florist for information - or consult a manual - for specific information about your plant.

Instead, for periods when you are away from home, if you have a plant that needs to be watered frequently, you can use a carrot for irrigation, that is, an object to be inserted into the soil and to which a container full of water can be connected. As far as the container is concerned, a suitably pierced plastic bottle is fine, but there are also more decorative solutions. If you have many plants, experts recommend leaving them all together in the bathroom, when you are away for a long time, arranged on top of an old wet towel, which provides them with the necessary moisture, unless they are succulents.

In addition to watering, there are other ways in which you need to provide water to the plants: the most direct is the nebulization, which consists in spraying water on the leaves in the morning, the other is the grouping of the plants together, since being close each plant benefits from the humidity created by the others. Any spray bottle is enough to nebulize, but those who give a lot of weight to the external appearance of their gardening tools and appreciate the aforementioned British gardener style of yesteryear, these metal nebulizers might like it a lot.

Nebulizers are also useful for cleaning the leaves of plants: it is something that must be done from time to time with indoor plants because the dust ruins them and clogs their pores, creating a barrier for the light, which is what they are keeps alive. To clean the leaves, which should always be done in the morning, you can also use a sponge if you have a delicate touch. There is no need to dry them, because the water is absorbed throughout the day. If they are very dirty, before wetting them it is a good idea to remove the dust with a cloth.

Remember, however, that water and cleaning are not enough to have truly luxuriant plants: every now and then, in spring, summer and autumn, you need to give them some fertilizer, for example that of Baby Bio, a historic brand. It doesn't have to be much, but they have to get it on a regular basis, experts say. If you are afraid of forgetting to do this, you can use slow-release granules or sticks, which automatically fertilize when you water the plant.

If your plants are infested with parasitic creatures such as mealybugs, aphids and spider mites, it may be enough to wash the leaves with soap and water (or an alcoholic) and then rinse them, to get rid of them: look for information on the particular parasite from which they have suffered. an attack and in any case isolate the infested plants from the healthy ones for as long as possible. If you can't get rid of parasites with the simplest methods, a pesticide and fungicide recommended by Wirecutter because it is not toxic to people and animals, if used correctly, it is neem oil which is obtained from the seeds of an Asian plant, theAzardirachta indicates. Mixed with soapy water it can be sprayed on the leaves with a nebulizer.

Other objects for the care of plants, less essential than the previous ones

If you live in a somewhat dark house and it seems to you that your plants suffer from it, you can buy an LED lamp to promote photosynthesis: this has a hook to be attached to a shelf and costs about 20 euros, Ikea also sells one, designed especially for aromatic herbs. If you want to measure how much light your plants receive to understand if it is enough, you can easily do it by downloading special applications on your smartphone: there are many, look for "light meter".

Other little things you might need: Velcro tape to hold the leaves and branches of your plants using sticky plastic labels to put in the soil to remind you of your plant's species (or give it a name) a Schleich plastic animal to place on the soil only because it is decorative and fun.

Books, blogs and Instagram profiles to learn about houseplants

In addition to the aforementioned manual by D.G. Hessayon, in the last few months two different books with the same title have come out that could be your guide: the title is How not to kill your plants, one was written by the expert gardening journalist Veronica Peerless and was published by Rizzoli, the other was written by the London-based florist Nik Southern and published by Corbaccio. Both contain a lot of detailed information and a catalog of houseplants to consult in order to choose one. The How not to kill your plants Peerless is cheaper and after an initial introductory part it is divided into cards with specific recommendations for 119 different plants: it looks quite similar to the structure of the manual by D.G. Hessayon, but it is less formal.

The How not to kill your plants by Southern, on the other hand, is more an essay on houseplants than a simple manual: there are some cards on specific plants, but between one and the other there are very long and detailed more general advice, as well as historical, cultural and scientific studies on indoor plants and chapters dedicated to furnishing with plants. The cover of the Italian edition has the title in large letters and is not very attractive, but the internal graphics, full of photographs and illustrations are captivating.

From left, the "How not to kill your plants" by Peerless, Hessayon's manual and the other "How not to kill your plants"

If the aesthetic aspect of a plant manual is important to you, there is also Urban Botany by Maaike Koster and Emma Sibley: it is a book illustrated with watercolors that gives information on 70 different houseplants. It lacks precise technical information, but you can also ask your florist or another book for that. It was published by the publishing house L’ippocampo, for which it has recently also been published Terrarium, a guide for the construction of terrariums, that is the equivalent of aquariums but with plants: it is a more technical book, suitable for people with some familiarity with plants, but always nice to see.

On the left "Terrarium", on the right "Botanica Urbana"

As for the places online where you can find information and ideas about the world of indoor plants, there are many Instagram profiles and blogs. If you read in English, an interesting blog about plants in general is The Plant Hunter. More on houseplants, on the other hand, is The Sill, an American online florist who has a frequently asked questions page and publishes articles on plants. As for Instagram profiles, in addition to The Sill's, the one of the botanical photographer folia_folia, Urban Jungle Bloggers and Mama Botanica, a Dutch youtuber who deals with plants, are recommended around the internet.

In autunno tagliare i rami che hanno fruttificato a livello del terreno e legare i getti che sono cresciuti in primavera. Se si vive in un luogo particolarmente freddo si consiglia di proteggere la pianta con un telo di plastica durante l’inverno.

I lamponi andranno raccolti ben maturi. Si riconosceranno per il colore molto vivace. Mai raccoglierli dopo la pioggia perché tenderanno ad ammuffire più rapidamente.

Per quanto riguarda i parassiti, il lampone è soggetto ad attacchi specialmente quando sistemato in piena terra. In vaso questo problema si ridurrà di molto. Tuttavia, per prevenire l’attacco di parassiti si consiglia di eseguire delle pacciamature e cercare di non bagnare le foglie durante l’annaffiatura.

Ecco, dunque, qual è la pianta straordinaria e facile da coltivare che tutti dovrebbero avere sul balcone.

Video: Tips for Buying Plants from a Greenhouse or Nursery

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