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Guest Post: Herb Gardens – Selecting Plants

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

While it is cheapest to grow herbs from seed, there are many reasons why the home herb grower might opt to buy live plants. Live plants are already established and are often large enough to start harvesting from right away. They are less susceptible to adverse weather conditions than seedlings, and they can be planted throughout the growing season. Many gardeners consider these factors to be worth the cost difference between seed and a live plant.

If you do choose to purchase live plants for your herb garden, you will want to look for certain traits.

  • Aroma - Rub the leaves gently with your hand and smell your fingertips. The scent should be potent and pleasing. Some varieties of herbs are bred to be visually appealing, and flavor can be left by the wayside.
  • Color - For the most part, herbs should be a lush, uniform green color. There are exceptions – variegated plants will have different-colored “tips” on their leaves, and some herbs come in interesting hues such as purple or silver.
  • Height - It can be difficult for novices to judge the height of a plant, but in general you should look for plants that have leaves over the majority of the stem. If the plant has gotten tall and no longer has leaves on the bottom half of the stem, it is beginning to bolt, or prepare itself to grow flowers and/or seeds rather than useful leaves.
  • Roots - If possible, you should gently lift the plant from the pot and inspect the roots. If the roots are bunched up around the inside of the pot, the plant has been in the pot for a long time. This can sometimes result in the plant dying once transplanted.
  • Bunching - Many nurseries will sell tight clumps of plants in a single pot. This is not necessarily bad. If the plants can be carefully separated and planted a few inches away from each other, a tight bunch of plants is a good purchase. If the plants cannot be separated without damaging them, the lack of spacing will result in competition for resources.

By looking at these elements of a live plant and selecting a healthy specimen, you will maximize the health, longevity, and flavor of your herbs.

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