If you are planning a trip to the garden centre this week, Carol Klein’s tip for how to tell if a plant is healthy will ensure you get the most out of your new shrubs and plants.
Purchasing everything from the best shrubs for small gardens to trees for garden boundaries can be expensive, so you want to make sure you are making a good investment. While you might be familiar with checking the leaves and branches, the Gardeners' World presenter reveals that you should also be checking what lies below the soil – the roots.
In her new TV series Gardening with Carol Klein on Channel 5, the gardening expert shared many of her practical tips for getting the most out of your gardening. It just takes one look at Carol’s stunning garden in her Devon home, Glebe Cottage, to see her flair for gardening.
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In the first episode of the two-part series, Carol demonstrated how to plant up a shrub into a container. She explained that before buying a shrub to plant up you should always check the roots first.
‘When you’re buying your shrubs don’t be frightened to demand to see its roots. Take it out of its pot and have a look,’ she urges.
While you might be shy about dumping a plant out of its pot at the garden centre it is the best way to check you are getting your money’s worth. ‘You don’t really want to be buying a shrub whose roots are going round and round, that means it’s pot bound and it’s going to take a long time to establish wherever you plant it out,’ Carol adds.
The RHS also urges budding gardeners to take a good look at the roots before investing in a shrub or tree. ‘Don’t be shy about checking the roots of container-grown plants,’ says the RHS website (opens in new tab).
However, they do urge caution when checking the roots at the garden centre. ‘It is unreasonable to look at the roots of every plant,’ they state. However, if it is a plant you are intending to buy it is acceptable to check the roots before going through the checkout. Just be sure to ask the garden centre staff for help if you want to check the roots of larger trees.
- Read more: How to move a tree - top tips for replanting trees and shrubs
In the garden centre or store you can check the roots of smaller shrubs and plants by easing the plant out of its pot and tilting the plant on its side. Check any visible roots to make sure they are healthy.
Healthy roots should be white or tan and succulent. There should be enough of them and they should be long enough to hold the soil in the shape of the pot. However, if all you can see is lots of roots going round and round, the plant is likely pot bound.
As the News Editor on Gardeningetc, Rebecca covers everything from the common mistake your making when pruning your roses, to handy tips about how to keep your houseplants alive. She has been covering all things gardening for two years across Homes & Gardens and Ideal Home. There isn't a single gardening trend that passes without her knowing about it.
She's currently the proud owner of a thriving container garden on her small city balcony and a jungle of houseplants. Small gardens and container plants are her specialties.
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