I used to work in a large nursery. I know how hot those places can get and how stressful it can be for both people and plants, being exposed to sun and hot concrete all day. We do water plants in nurseries regularly, but depending upon how much room there is at the top of the pot, the amount of foliage and how much the root ball has filled the pot, the watering they get at a nursery may be just a trickle, enough to keep the plant alive and fresh, but not enough to soak the potting mix thoroughly.

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So, here are some of my pro tips for plant purchasing and survival

  • Choose plants that are not wilted. Wilted plants indicate stress that they may not recover from.
  • Choose plants that are heavy in the pot. This often indicates the potting mix is moist, which is what you want.
  • Seedlings in punnets should be compact, leafy and deeply green. Avoid seedlings with roots emerging from the pot or punnet or those that are tall and lean looking as they will be hungry with poor performance later.
  • Choose a healthy plant with signs of new/active growth
  • When you’ve bought your plants, don’t leave them in a hot car while you go shopping. Heat kills! Take them straight home
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  • Once I get them home the first thing I do is to take them out of the car, fill a bucket with water, almost to the top, and add a splash of seaweed solution. I then drop the potted plant or seedlings into the bucket and watch them sink to the bottom. You’ll find most plants float at first, but as the potting mix expels air and hydrates with water, it will sink to the bottom. Only then do I remove it from the bucket and allow it to drain the excess water.
  • Each plant then gets a bright spot but not in beating hot sun, and daily watering until it’s time to plant.
  • In hot weather, I plant in the late afternoon. This cooler part of the day gives the little plants a chance to settle in before the heat is turned up next day.
  • Covering with shade cloth for the first few days may help them to get accustomed to the new spot as well.
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  • If you are not going to plant the same day, dunk it again on the day of planting to rehydrate the potting mix. Release the plant from the pot and settle it into its new spot.
  • Remember to ensure the soil you are planting into is already moist and once planted, the new plant should have a deep water in (called puddling in as we need to add enough water to almost make a puddle of mud around the roots. This causes the soil to contact the roots so they can take off from the word go.)
  • I use seaweed or Fast Fulvic in the water for that first watering in situ as it helps to reduce transplant shock.
  • Your plant will need regular watering to keep the soil moist especially during the establishment phase. Dig a hole in the soil to see just effective and deep your watering is.
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