Indoor plants are raised in glasshouses in which the air is warm and humid. The world outside is far less accommodating, so always buy from a reputable supplier who will have made sure that the plants have been properly hardened off. In this way the shock of moving into a new home will be reduced to a minimum.
House plants can, of course, be bought at any time of the year, but it is preferable to purchase delicate varieties between late spring and mid fall. But some plants can only be bought in winter, and you should be extra careful at this time of the year. Plants stood outside the shop or on a market stall will have been damaged by the cold unless they are hardy varieties – avoid buying delicate plants which are stood in the open as ‘bargain’ offers.
Now you are ready to buy. If you are shopping for flower seeds, choose F1 hybrids if available. If you are picking bulbs, make sure that they are firm, rot-free and without holes or shoots. When buying house plants, ensure that the specimen is not too big for the space you have in mind and then look for the danger signs. None present? Then you have a good buy.
Make sure the plant is properly wrapped before leaving the shop or nursery. The purpose of this wrapping is twofold – to protect stray leaves from damage and to keep out draughts. In winter the protecting cover should be closed at the top.
Much has been written about the danger of walking home with a delicate house plant in the depths of winter, but just as much damage is done by putting plants in the boot of a car in the height of summer. When taking a plant home by car the best plan is to secure it in a box and place it on a seat. Be careful not to crush the leaves or the stems.
Once your new plant is home it will need a period of acclimatization. For a few weeks keep it out of direct sunlight and draughts, and be careful not to give it too much heat or water. It is quite normal for a delicate variety to lose a leaf or two during this settling-in period, and the worst thing you can do is to keep on moving it from one spot to another in order to find the ‘proper’ home. Just leave it alone in a moderately warm spot out of the sun.
Flowering pot plants (Azalea, Chrysanthemum and Cyclamen) which are purchased in flower during the winter months require different treatment – put them in their permanent quarters immediately and give them as much light as possible.