DIY Network

Determining Plant Health

There are a few ways to make sure a plant is healthy before taking it home from the store.

More in Outdoors

  • Choose plants with healthy foliage and no sign of disease or insects.
  • If possible, examine the roots of a containerized plant before you buy. Healthy roots will generally be white or light-colored on most plants.
  • Shrubs and trees that have spent a long time in transit or on display may have gone through extended periods of heat and drought. Reject any plant with dark, discolored roots or a shrunken root mass.
  • The root ball of a balled-and-burlapped plant should be round and firm — not loose — and there shouldn't be roots growing through the burlap.
  • Look for plants that are bushy and compact, with new leaves appearing close together on the stems (not leggy).
  • Take an even closer look at plants on sale — they may be past their prime.
  • Avoid plants with flowers that have opened, and opt for those still in bud.
  • An annual or perennial with leaf scars indicates that the plant has previously lost leaves.
  • Look for even and attractive branching from all angles.