Good Buy and Good Luck
I’d like to spend some time talking about plants. Specifically, those plants you find in the nurseries now that are WAAYYY in the back. On a table with a big sign that says “Clearance” or “50% off” or something like that. Do you snatch them up, pushing people out of the way like a deranged shopper on Black Friday? Or do you pass them by?
I often say it’s like choosing a marriage partner; you have to know how to pick a good one. So if you find a plant on the Clearance table how do you know if it is Mr. (or Ms.) Right?
Look for the signs.
If a plant looks healthy and is not overly root-bound, go for it. After spending the summer in a pot some root circling is expected. However, if you cannot remove the plant from the pot, or there are roots coming out the bottom you might want to pass. The exception would be ornamental grasses which seem to ALWAYS have roots coming out the bottom (hint: cut the pot away and slice off the bottom inch or so of roots).
Look carefully at the leaves and soil – for this, I would need my glasses. Anything slimy, mushy, or dusty could indicate disease and should be put back. Look for insect problems. Leaves that are skeletonized, notched or rolled may indicate a stowaway. Even if you do not see anything I would recommend a good shower when you get home. For the plant, not you. Or you could give it a good spray with insecticidal soap.
If the plant you choose passes these simple tests it might be worth bringing home to meet the family. Do not procrastinate however when it comes to planting. Clearance plants have spent way too long in a small pot and really need some TLC before winter. Choose the right spot based on light requirements, plant and water very well. I usually incorporate an organic fertilizer or Healthy Start in the hole. If, despite your best efforts, your bargain ends up breaking your heart, at least it didn’t cost you an arm and a leg.