By Michelle Fabio
If you aren’t growing your tomatoes from seeds, it’s good to know how to choose tomato plants for transplanting at the local nursery.
Most nursery workers will guide you in the right direction, but it never hurts to show up prepared.
So, keeping in mind that you’ll be choosing plants that will hopefully be with you for quite some time, it’s a good idea to FLIRT with them a bit before you take them home:
Foliage: Make sure the leaves are deep green and shiny, not yellow and wilted;
Lushness: You want a full but compact plant with several healthy stems with no cracks or scars;
Insect & Disease: Bad signs are holes, spots, rotted or mushy areas, and stickiness; be sure to check every part of the plant, including the soil;
Roots: Root balls should be solid as broken ones may mean dried out roots; if the plant is already in a pot, make sure the roots aren’t growing out of the bottom as the plant could be stressed; if the plant lifts out too easily, it may be new to that pot, making another move even more stressful;
Tallness: Size doesn’t always matter, but you do want your plants to be around 10-12 inches tall for best successful replanting odds.
Of course you may come across a plant you just have to have despite what a careful inspection reveals. In this case, you may just have to trust your instincts and take it home anyway–you’re only human after all.