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When you have found a plant you like, give it a quick once-over to make sure it has potential. Try to slide the plant out of its pot and look for healthy white roots growing in the compost. Choose a plant with vigorous top-growth and plenty of buds
Resist the urge to buy plants on impulse, and take the time to choose a healthy, vigorous specimen.
Inspect your plant: hold it up to the light and check both sides of the leaves and stem. Discoloured leaves may be a sign of a nutrient deficiency or another ailment.
Don't think that bigger is always better. Look for a sturdy young plant with plenty of new shoots and buds as well as a healthy root system that will flourish.
Check the roots - avoid plants with so much congested root growth that you can't see the soil, and/or with lots of roots sticking out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
Reject plants with poor growth - if an established plant has poor growth, there must be a good reason for it. Look out for dead or diseased-looking leaves and broken branches.
Avoid plants with weeds or moss growing on the top of the compost. This can be a sign of old stock that hasn't been well cared for.
Check that plants have nice even growth. Some will have a 'front' and a 'back' because they might not have been regularly turned round, and have grown lopsided.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.