Shopping for Plants

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

After a half of inch of rain Friday night, and a cool and cloudy start to Saturday, Beth and I figured it was time to shop for more garden plants. Perhaps if the rain held off for the entire day, it might be dry enough to plant on Saturday afternoon.

Beth and I had planned to make these two greenhouse stops in conjunction with an upcoming vacation. However, since the weather wasn’t fit to work outdoors, we decided to get a jump on things.

I had a small list for our first stop. Customarily, Beth shops around while I get help at this garden center. On this occasion, Beth knew what I wanted, and knew where the plants were located. In no time at all Beth and I picked out tomato plants, one 4-pack of peppers, a dozen plastic stakes, and some marigolds.

My primary purpose at our second stop was for me to pick out a Mother’s Day pot of geraniums, or a large begonia. Beth had an extensive plant list, so I simply followed her around, and looked at the merchandise. I ended up selecting a large pot of violet colored geraniums. While browsing through the perennials, I selected three carnations that looked good. Beth made sure I found one red, one white, and one pink, as I planned to pot them in a large container together.

It is not difficult for a blind person to pick out preferred plants at a greenhouse. I knew what cultivars of tomatoes I wanted, and I knew I wanted large plants. Here were my criteria: tall and straight plants, no wilted leaves on the bottom, and leaves that were large and firm. My cultivars this year will be 1 sweet 100 cherry tomato, one whopper, two big beef and three big boy. Most of them will wait until the ground warms up just a bit more.

I wanted sweet banana peppers, and when Beth found them, I picked out the 4-pack I wanted by touch. Stout and straight plants with plenty of leaves were what I was looking for. Tall and lanky plants were left at the store.

I used the same criteria for the marigolds. They are a small variety, so I wanted small, sturdy and bushy plants. It was easy to feel various plants and pick out the packs I wanted. In this case color didn’t matter, and I left that up to Beth.

There is an ongoing debate as to whether your annuals or perennials should be blooming. I really don’t care. In all likelihood, I’ll pinch off the flowers anyway. It is the general health and vigor of the plants that are my first points of interest. The carnations were bushy, and the ones that were in bloom were really past their prime, in my opinion. But the carnations in bloom did have an advantage–they sure smelled good. The smaller, sturdier ones will bloom in good time, so no real problem here.

Cloudy and cool weather makes for a great planting environment.  It did not rain from Saturday morning until after lunch on Sunday. I’ll write about that in future blogs.

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