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Buying plants to suit your needs
Although it can be tempting to buy plants based on just how pretty they are, this may not always be the best tactic! Each plant has its own specific requirements but your home environment may not necessarily always meet those requirements, which can make plant care trickier than it needs to be.
For example, if your home is typically bright and sunny with high temperatures and dry air, it is most well-suited for drought-resistant, sun-loving plants like succulents and cacti, but may not be suitable for humidity-loving rainforest plants such as Calatheas / Goeppertias. Of course, you can still get yourself a beautiful rainforest plant regardless of this if that's what you have your heart set on - you just have to take some extra measures to ensure that their care needs are met, such as by using a humidifier or grow lights etc. where necessary.
Choosing the right plant
Once you've selected the type of plant you want, you can now choose the one to bring home with you. It's worth taking a little extra time to select the perfect one.
Ideally, you should go along in person to a well-established plant nursery or garden center that stocks healthy, good quality plants. Take a close look at the plants before selecting the one you want. Examine the foliage and container for any signs of potential pest infestations (pests can spread very quickly in a garden center), and also check to see if the leaves seem generally healthy - they should be lush, full and colorful. Watch out for signs such as discoloration or spotting on the leaves as well as wilting or general droopiness.
For flowering plants: We're naturally drawn to the plants that are already fully flowering, as they look striking and we perceive them as being healthy. However, buying a plant that's already in flower means that the time you'll get to enjoy those flowers will be shorter. It's instead better to choose a plant that has lots of buds, as they'll then flower once you get them home. Additionally, it's easier to transplant plants in the budding stage.
Bringing your new plants home
Even if you've thoroughly checked your new plants before bringing them into your home, it's still a good idea to quarantine them before introducing them to the rest of your collection.
Keeping them separate for at least 2-3 weeks is ideal, and they should preferably be kept in a separate room that, if possible, doesn't contain any other plants. If you don't have a suitable room to do this, an alternative is to isolate your plants using a plastic bag. The bag should be transparent so that light can still get through, and you should keep it away from harsh direct sunlight as the plastic can greatly heighten the temperature within the bag. The last thing you want is to cook your brand new plant! At the end of the quarantine period, give them one last check-over before moving them to join your other plants. This will help to ensure that you definitely don't introduce any new pests to your existing collection.