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What to check for when buying your plants from a nursery

Are you eager to add some vibrant greenery to your home or garden? Look no further than your friendly neighbourhood plant nursery! These havens of botanical beauty offer a wide range of plants to choose from.

However, before you get swept away by the allure of lush foliage, let's explore some important things to check when buying from a plant nursery. With these tips in mind, you'll ensure that you bring home healthy, thriving plants that will brighten your space for years to come.

Plant Health:

The last thing you want is to have a plant die on you as you bring it home so inspect the plants carefully, checking for signs of good health. Look for sturdy stems, vibrant leaves, and no visible signs of pests or diseases. Avoid plants with yellowing or wilting foliage, as they may struggle to survive.


For a plant to develop a good root system it needs well aerated soil. If the soil appears crumbly or has bits of compost, coco peat or other organic matter visible then there is a good chance the roots have had a chance to develop properly. In fact if you do see this, it is a sign that the nursery has put additional effort into growing the plant.

Plant Size and Shape:

It goes without saying that the plant will fit the space. Consider what the plant will eventually grow into especially if you are planting it into the garden where it will grow significantly larger. Ensure that the plant's size matches your available space and that its shape is well-balanced and symmetrical. Avoid plants with uneven growth or obvious signs of damage.

Plant Labels and Information:

Check if the plants have labels or tags that provide important details such as the plant's name, care instructions, sunlight requirements, and potential height and spread. Many nurseries in Zambia do not provide labels on individual plants so you would have to ask the nurseryman. This information will help you choose plants suitable for your specific environment and gardening skills, especially if you have to look for care instructions online.

Seasonal Suitability:

Ensure that the plants you select are suitable for the current season and climate. Some plants may thrive in specific seasons, while others may require more care during extreme weather conditions. Choose plants that align with your region's climate and the time of year.

Knowledgeable Staff:

Engage with the nursery's staff and ask questions about the plants you are interested in. A knowledgeable and friendly staff can provide valuable advice, guidance, and insights, ensuring you make informed decisions and enhance your gardening experience.

In addition to supporting small businesses, it's important to be aware of certain challenges that exist in the plant market.

Plant Theft:

Unfortunately, there is an unfortunate situation of plant theft in Lusaka and other areas. Valuable plants can be targeted and stolen from gardens, particularly during nighttime. To mitigate the risk, it's advisable to purchase plants from reputable nurseries that ensure the plants' authenticity and legality. Exercise caution when encountering plants for sale on the side of the road along your regular routes, as their origins may be questionable.

Illegal Plant Imports:

Another concern to be aware of is the illegal importation of plants. Importing plants is regulated to prevent the introduction of invasive species or the potential decimation of local plant populations. Stay informed and prioritise the protection of our local ecosystems by purchasing plants from trustworthy sources.

Buying from a plant nursery is an exciting adventure for any plant lover, and growing a plant sustainably is something we can all benefit indirectly from. By following these guidelines, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to select healthy, thriving plants that will flourish in your garden or home.

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