Buying plants in the store ahead of their best planting time requires a little bit of forethought.

This time of year, garden centers are starting to want to sell you plants in leaf (meaning they have already started putting out their leaves for the spring) and summer bulbs. A word for the wise: buy now, baby, and wait til the time is right.

Buy Now

Unfortunately, it is a case of hurry up and wait. It is like thinking about buying swimsuits when it is 32 degrees outside and blustery. You know it’s not time, but you also know that if you don’t grab it now, it will be gone. This is especially true of fruit plants. They tend to make their way into stores ahead of the season.

Buy Healthy

Even now, you can see if a plant is good stock or not. Look for healthy and vigorously growing plants.


  • Wilting and stressed plants
  • Dry and light soil
  • Branches without buds
  • Crisp leaves or branches

Don’t Plant Immediately

You will have to keep any leafed out plants in a warm, sunny place until closer to spring. Water regularly just like you would a houseplant. When the danger of the last frost gets near, begin putting them outside for hours at a time during the day to get them acclimated to the outdoors. Bring them inside in the evening as long as there is a chance of frost.