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Budgets are retained through shopping lists

New plants seen Tuesday are laid out at a local greenhouse awaiting the doors to open to shoppers. John Zvirovski / The Sun

Despite the recent cool weather, the greenhouses will be opening their doors to display a large array of bright colors, new ideas, and healthy plants for the garden. Many will carry all plant types such as annuals, vegetables, perennials, bushes and trees, while others will specialize in only a couple types. Either way, there will be a huge selection to choose from, which may overwhelm some of our senses. Without proper preparations, the process of making plant selections can become quite difficult and maybe even a little frustrating.

When making a trip to the greenhouse, it is best to know what areas in the garden or landscape you are seeking to plant. Define those areas, and then make a list of various plant types and colors you are looking to purchase. Also take stock into the type of lighting various areas will receive and the heights you desire. This will all become valuable information in making the proper selections.

As soon as you enter the greenhouse, oftentimes you will notice numerous container gardens with a variety of great colors and plant types. Usually these containers with have a cluster of tags tugged in the back of each one to explain what plants are used in the containers. This is not only a good sales practice, but it allow you to see what looks great together and gives you the names so you can go inside and shop for those particular plants. These are also great items just to pick up and go for use on your deck, patio, or porch. They also make great gifts for Mother’s Day or for those special people in your life that make everything a little easier!

By having a list in hand when entering these outlets, it will streamline your shopping process and allow you not to make too many impulse purchases. I always tell people this theory as it goes right out the door as soon as I see all those healthy plants! But in all actuality, the first things I seek out are what exists on my list. It is no different than going to get groceries at the store.

Always read the tags of the plants you are purchasing as there are so many different varieties now that all grow a little differently. Petunias are the perfect examples in which reading the tags is highly beneficial. Depending on the space you are trying to fill, you may be looking for a small or a large plant. The fantasy mix is a smaller plant that reached about eight inches by eight inches with numerous small flowers. The supertunias become a large plant that can cover an area of 3 square feet! Cascade and wave varieties are great flowing selections that work well for hanging baskets, tall containers, or along the tops of retaining walls to allow them to flow freely downward. Some of the other hybrids will only get about a foot by a foot at maturity. Whatever the style, the tags in each container will tell you all the vital statistics to make the proper selection.

Also look as the plants that have great foliar color as these with pack a punch the entire growing season from the moment you put them in the ground. Items such as coleus, perilla, durante and coral bells are some of the best at giving great foliar color. They are good for both sun and shade so become quite versatile in the garden.

When making your selection of plants, always find the healthiest of plants. Check for good plant structure, uniform shape and a strong rooted anchor into the soil. Getting a plant in a small pot with numerous flowers is not always the best choice as the plant is already under stress putting its energy into seed production. Seek out the plants that have less blooms, but more buds on a healthy and vigorous plant as these will take hold quicker in the garden once planted and thrive. Plants with leaves that have brown edges or possess a wilted appearance are not the best choices, unless of course they are on the discount table … then they may be worth the effort to nurse them back to health.

Another great idea is to search through many different nurseries for the products on your list, not just one. Each nursery has something different with different levels of healthy plants. When using your hard-earned money, you will want to make sure you are getting the best value for your buck. Many places run specials around Mother’s Day and over the Memorial Day weekend. These are geared toward bringing people into the shops, not just for the sales items but to become exposed to all the regular priced items that they may purchase also.

Many places bank on people being in a hurry with no time extra time, thus they make quick purchases at regular price and buy a lot of items in a one-stop shopping frenzy. I find half the fun is to go to at least a half-dozen different places within the area to make sure I get anything that may be new or different to fill those little empty spaces in the garden that are not on my list. These are usually purchased for special focal points or to add points of interest. Sometimes these one-of-a-kind items may be costly, thus only a few are purchased.

Going plant shopping can be enjoyable as long as you go prepared. Always make a list of the things you need for the garden as this will keep you within the budget that you want to spend. Also allow a little flex room for some of those new treasures you may find along the way, but don’t allow those extra purchases to put you into the poor house. All impulse shopping should be done within reason of the pocketbook.

This weekend will be one of the first that the greenhouses will be open. Take an early excursion to see what is available and then decide from there, exactly what it is that you will need. This prep time will go a long way to make this a wonderful growing season while still making it cost effective. Take a moment and check out the nurseries this weekend as you have the time.