Inspect Houseplants Before You Buy

Unhealthy leaves reveal if a plant has been stressed due to overwatering, underwatering, heat, cold, or—perhaps the greatest concern—houseplant insect infestation.

Check in particular for scale, a round brown insect that forms a hard shell and is almost impossible to see on some brown-stemmed plants.

If it’s bone dry, you’ll want to water it as soon as you get it home. Most houseplants like to be watered when the first 2 to 3 inches of soil begin to dry out. Look for soggy soil as well, since overwatering can also be a problem and attract fungus gnats.

Assess the Roots

At the bottom where the drainage holes are, you should see dirt. If you see roots, the plant is in need of a larger pot.

If you buy a houseplant in a 6-inch pot, you’ll want to buy a new pot that has at least an 8-inch circumference.

A plant in full bloom is tempting, but when you buy it, the blooms will be fading soon, so it’s always a good idea to find one that is about to burst into flower.

Notice Nearby Plants

Do any of them look unhealthy or in need of watering? Check the leaves, stems, and soil of the plants in the immediate vicinity for insects, too.