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Home » Information » Garden Center Shopping Tips

Garden Center Shopping Tips

Garden Center

For those of us who love our gardens, browsing around a garden center for plants and flowers can be a real treat. There are many varieties of bright flowers, perennials, annuals, vegetables, and combinations that can fire up the imagination. Consequently, time flies and so can dollars out of your pocket. Here are some tips for your next garden center shopping trip!

Garden Center Shopping Tips

Proper Preparation

Weekends at a garden center can be busy, so wear a pair of comfortable shoes, take a sun hat and arrive early. If you know what you are going there for, it is best to prepare your list ahead of time. Be sure to use a purse with a shoulder strap to free up your hands. You might consider packing hand sanitizer as well if you plan on touching products in the store.

Rewards and Loyalty Cards

Some garden centers offer a rewards or loyalty card, and award points each time you make a purchase. These points go toward future discounts. Check if any of your local centers have rewards or loyalty programs so you can save money on future purchases.


For beginners, garden centers can be overwhelming. It may be a good idea to make your first trip a scouting mission. Take a look at garden products you like, ask questions about the selection of plants and garden tools, and make a list. Then, take your list back home, design flowerbeds and features, and go back when you are ready to start investing in your garden masterpiece. Having a vision will give you the guidance you need. If you need more guidance, ask one of the gardening experts for assistance.

Gardening tip: Know your annuals from your perennials.

Gardening 101 –

Annuals and Perennials

Annuals last one season while perennials come back every year. Therefore, annuals are great for borders, filling spaces, and look great in containers and pots.

Some garden centers specialize in perennials and annuals only. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to visit a variety of garden centers. Smaller, locally-owned garden centers offer a far more unique experience than bigger, chain garden centers. Oftentimes, local garden centers will offer more personal service as well.

Full Bloom vs Non-blooming Plants

It seems obvious to choose plants that are in full bloom. However, non-blooming plants transplant better, because of the fewer blossoms there are on the plant. Non-blooming plants are able to save more energy and can devote the energy to rooting and development instead. Don’t worry, they will bloom in no time.

Not all plants need to have flowers. Leafy green plants can have a beautiful impact in the garden too. Remember to take plastic with you to line the trunk of your car to put the plants on for the ride home.

Sun and Shade 101

Full sun: Plants need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Part sun/part shade: Plants need four to six hours of sun per day.

Full shade: Plants need fewer than 2 hours of direct sun per day.

Information tags on the plants and flowers are important to read. Be mindful and place your plants in the right area and water them correctly.

Check plants for disease

Carefully scrutinize all plants for evidence of plants disease or insect damage before you purchase them. Unlike most other products, once you have taken a plant home, it can be difficult to return them. If you have questions about a garden center’s return policy be sure to ask a clerk or find information online.

Compost and soil

If the soil you are working with at home is not good for the type of plants you are purchasing then it is best to buy new soil. For a majority of plants, it is best to plant using additional compost. You can either buy compost or make a compost pile at home before you start on your garden. Most garden centers sell an array of compost and garden dressings.


Be mindful that what you do in your garden this season will often only be rewarded next season. Take delight in creating beauty where there was none.

Additional Reading: Growing Together: 21 tips for garden center shopping

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