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Learn how to buy the perfect plants with our Plant Buying Guide

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

No more embarrassing questions when you’re at the garden centre – enjoy the confidence of buying as an educated consumer!

A thriving garden or landscape starts with one essential element: the right plants. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a newbie with a green thumb in the making, choosing the perfect plants for your outdoor space can be a challenging task. That's where our Plant Buying Guide comes to the rescue! At Nurseryman, we understand the importance of selecting the right plants for your needs, and we're here to help you make the best choices.

Why is Choosing the Right Plants Important?

Selecting the perfect plants for your garden or landscape isn't just about aesthetics; it's also about ensuring the health and longevity of your outdoor space. Here are a few reasons why making informed plant choices matters:

  1. Climate compatibility. Different plants thrive in various climates and weather conditions. Choosing plants that are well-suited to your local climate will make maintenance much more manageable and increase their chances of flourishing.

  2. Maintenance level. Some plants require minimal care, while others need more attention. Selecting plants that match your gardening skills and the time you can devote to them is crucial for a successful garden.

  3. Aesthetic appeal. Plants contribute significantly to the overall look and feel of your garden. The right combination of colours, shapes, and sizes can create a visually pleasing and harmonious outdoor space.

  4. Purpose. Consider the purpose of your plants. Are they for shade, privacy, attracting pollinators, or purely ornamental? Knowing your plants' purpose will guide your selection.

We're here to help you make informed decisions when choosing the perfect plants for your garden or landscape. Follow our step-by-step guide to ensure your outdoor space thrives with lush greenery and beautiful blooms.

Nurseryman Plant Buying Guide

Step 1: Assess Your Environment

Before you start selecting plants, it's essential to understand your garden's environmental conditions. Consider the following factors:

Soil Type:

Determine whether your soil is sandy, loamy, or clay. Knowing your soil type will help you choose plants that thrive in your specific soil conditions. As a rule of thumb, most plants prefer good drainage, so if your soil is heavy dig wide, large holes or trenches for your plants so the roots have plenty of room to expand.

An understanding of if your soil is too acid or alkaline is also very helpful – the majority of plants prefer a slightly acid soil, around pH6.5 (7 being neutral), but others notably rhodos, azaleas and camellias like a more acid mix. You can read about specialised fertilisers to assist in this article.

Another very useful indicator of what grows well in your soil is looking at what species are doing well in the area, for example the neighbours. If your neighbour has got a rhodo that isn’t looking too flash there’s a fair chance the soil in the area is too alkaline!

Sunlight Exposure:

Observe how much sunlight your garden receives throughout the day. This will help you select plants that require full sun, partial shade, or full shade.


Take note of your local climate. Does your region experience harsh winters, scorching summers, or mild temperatures year-round? Do you have a microclimate? For example a property surrounded by large trees and hedging. Choose plants that are well-suited to your climate zone.

Step 2: Explore Our Plant Profiles

Browse through the plant profiles on our website to discover the perfect plants for your garden. Each profile includes valuable information such as:

  • Plant Name: Learn the common and scientific names of the plant.

  • Growth Habit: Understand how tall and wide the plant typically grows. This is crucial for spacing and design.

  • Maintenance Requirements: Discover the level of care the plant needs, including watering, pruning, and fertilising.

  • Ideal Growing Conditions: Find out the plant's preferred soil type, sunlight exposure, and climate suitability.

  • Seasonal Interest: Learn when the plant blooms or exhibits other unique features, such as colourful foliage.

Step 3: Design Tips

Create a beautiful and functional garden layout with our design tips:

  • Colour Combinations: Explore which plants work best together to create visually appealing colour combinations. Keep in mind what effect you’re trying to create – a bold, bright garden will use colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel, for example red and green. For a softer serene feeling, use colours that are beside each other on the colour wheel – for example blue, green, yellow.

  • Focal Points: Consider adding eye-catching focal points, such as tall trees or striking flowering plants.

  • Purposeful Planting: Determine the purpose of each plant, whether it's for shade, privacy, attracting pollinators, or purely ornamental.

With these overall concepts in mind, try working through these steps:

  • Begin with thinking about the form and colour you're looking for - shape, size, texture, etc

  • Without over-thinking it, jot down the names of the plants that spring to mind that could fit that bill

  • Now work through each specific attribute you want, and cross out the names that don't fit. Eg, does it need to be evergreen? Cross out the deciduous plants. Wet area? Cross out the ones that don't like wet feet.

  • Existing plants in the garden? Choose colours close to each other on the colour wheel to complement each other, or opposite colours to create contrast. Cross out the plants that won't work.

  • Before you know it, that perfect plant you were struggling to identify will be staring at you off the page - the last plant not crossed out!

Step 4: Seasonal Recommendations

Plan your planting schedule based on the seasons:

  • Spring: Ideal for planting most flowers, vegetables, and shrubs.

  • Summer: Great for heat-loving plants like tropicals and succulents.

  • Autumn: Perfect for planting trees and shrubs, as the soil is still warm, but the weather is cooler.

  • Winter: Plan hardscape projects or indoor gardening during the colder months.

Step 5: Care and Maintenance

Ensure your garden's long-term success with proper care:

  • Planting: Don’t plant trees or shrubs too deep! Planting the stem/trunk below ground level is a sure way to kill them. Plant with the top of the rootball flush or slightly proud of the soil.

  • Watering: Learn how often and how much to water your plants, considering their specific needs.

  • Fertilising: Understand when and what type of fertiliser to use to promote healthy growth.

  • Pruning: Master the art of pruning to maintain plant shape and encourage new growth.

  • Pest and Disease Management: Identify common garden pests and diseases and how to manage them.

Your Next Steps

While this Plant Buying Guide provides valuable information, our knowledgeable staff at Nurseryman are here to assist you further. Contact our nursery today to explore our wide selection of high-quality plants and receive personalized recommendations to make your gardening dreams a reality.

Whether you're landscaping a large commercial property or creating a cosy backyard oasis, our team is dedicated to helping you achieve your gardening goals. We take pride in offering a wide selection of high-quality plants, trees, and shrubs to suit every preference and budget.

So, are you ready to transform your outdoor space into a lush and vibrant haven? Let our Plant Buying Guide be your trusted companion on your gardening journey, and with the right plants and the right knowledge, your dream garden is just a few steps away!

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