How to Buy Organic Plants

Two Methods:Where to BuyWhat to Buy

For those with a green thumb who are dedicated to an organic lifestyle, knowing how to buy organic plants—from vegetable plants to houseplants—is an important matter. When all is said and done, though, knowing how to buy organic plants is as simple as looking in the right places and shopping for high quality specimens.

Method 1
Where to Buy

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    Look for a source that specializes in organic plants. The easiest way to know whether or not the plants you buy from a specific vendor are organic is to shop with a vendor that only deals in organic goods. Odds are, an organic nursery, garden center, or shop will do the work of checking out the conditions the plant was raised in before selling it. Moreover, as it sits there, the plant will receive organic care and will probably not be treated with any chemicals. This is especially true if the store has some type of official certification from a nationally approved or third-party organic organization.
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    Go to a small neighborhood nursery or garden center.[1] While these locations may not deal specifically with organic goods, they are more likely to carry organic plants than big box stores. Neighborhood garden centers tend to have a more personal connection to the sources they buy from and to their customers, and this personal touch extends to the quality of merchandise sold there.
    • Simply put, a local source is more apt to pay attention to who they buy from and how the plants they purchase are cared for prior to purchasing them. Since these stores have limited resources and need to maintain a high level of care in order to avoid wasting stock, they are also more likely to take greater precautions when caring for plants. Many of these precautions will include using organic measures, especially on fruit and vegetable plants.
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    Try a farmer's market. Typically, a farmer’s market will only sell products of organic farming rather than organic plants, but a large enough market will likely carry a few organic plants, as well. Aside from the fact that farmer’s markets are a good source of organic goods, one advantage of buying an organic plant from a farmer’s market is that you know the plant likely came from a seed or cutting of a healthy plant in the grower’s garden or field.
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    Consider a big box store. It is true that big box stores tend to have fewer organic plants to choose from and tend to be less dedicated in their methods of care, but they can be a good source for perennials and hardy shrubs as long as you buy during the correct time of season and examine the quality before making a purchase. Moreover, these stores generally do maintain organic methods of care for plants marketed as organic, if for no other reason than the fact that selling non-organic plants as organic could cause a business scandal.
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    Shop online. Using the Internet for any organic good can be both tricky and convenient. On the one hand, scammers abound, and you have no way of checking the quality of plants before you buy them. On the other hand, you can find a greater selection online and can comparison shop with greater ease. If you decide to buy online, make sure that the merchant is a certified organic seller and that the vast majority of reviews about the merchant are positive.

Method 2
What to Buy

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    Verify that the plant is organic. Unless bought from an organic nursery, an organic plant should come with a label or sign specifically stating that the plant is organic or from a certifiably organic source. If you are unsure about whether or not the plant is organic, ask the merchant about the conditions it was grown under and what, if any, organic practices or products were used in its cultivation. Make sure that the garden center or seller has not been using non-organic, chemical fertilizers or pesticides on the plant.
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    Choose a balanced plant.[2] This is especially true if you are looking for an organic houseplant, but it also applies to vegetables plants, shrubs, and trees. Except in rare instances in which the plant is supposed to have an imbalanced look, the specimen you choose should have an even shape and should not be leaning in any one direction.
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    Favor more flower buds over fewer. If the plant you choose is meant to flower, look for one that had plenty of buds thriving on healthy stems. Look for plants with a few flowers that have begun to open if you do not plant on transplanting the plant into a garden. Do not buy a plant on which all the buds have opened, since you will get shorter enjoyment from the flowers. If you do plan on transplanting the plant, opt for plants that have no open flowers, since transplanting is less harsh on plants that are not fully mature.
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    Make sure the plant is healthy. Merchants selling organic plants may use pesticides less often, especially if the merchant does not specialize in organic products. Examine the undersides of the leaves to check for diseased spots or pests. Give a few of the leaves a small tug. If they fall off without much effort, there is a good chance that something is wrong with the plant.
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    Look at the roots, if possible. If the plant you are buying is bare-rooted, examine the roots for signs of unusual brownness, softness, or rot. Good roots are firm and solid.
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    Buy what you can care for. If a plant requires full sun and you are unable to provide it with such, you should either be prepared to purchase fluorescent grow lights with it or be prepared to buy a different type of plant that you can care for.

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Categories: Planting and Growing | Buying Wisely