5 tips on shopping for plants in Western New York

rows of plants
Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

It’s that time of year when gardeners in Western New York are happily buying plants. Here are some tips to guide you while shopping.

Plan what to look for

Do you want to grow food, have a pretty yard, help the environment, or a bit of all of those? Do you want plants that are easy to maintain? New and different? Fragrant? Tall?

Even if you don’t know exactly what plants you want, have an idea of what your garden needs.

Shop at local garden centers

Many of our local garden centers not only sell plants, they grow them, too.

So unlike the big box stores, the folks at our local garden centers are very knowledgeable about plants. They are happy to answer any questions you have.

Tip: If you have lots of questions, go anytime except Memorial Day weekend. The garden centers are swamped on those days.

No two local garden centers are exactly alike. They have different plants in stock, so you may want to visit more than one. If you’re looking for a particular plant, please contact them directly.

Here are some of our advertisers:

When you stop in, please mention that you heard about them on Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com!

Know your hardiness zone

You want to make sure any perennials you buy will be able to make it through winter. That’s why you want to know your hardiness zone.

With few exceptions, everyone in Western New York is in zone 5a, 5b, 6a or 6b. You can find your hardiness zone here.

Zone 5a has average low temperatures from -20 to -15 degrees Fahrenheit; it probably won’t get colder than that in winter. The warmer Zone 6b has average low temperatures from -5 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you see a plant tagged as Zone 6, and you live in Zone 6, the plant should make it through the winter. However, if you live in the colder Zone 5, it’s less likely that plant will survive the winter.

If you see a plant tagged as Zone 5 and you live in Zone 5, the plant should make it through the winter. And if you live in the warmer Zone 6 and see a plant labeled for the colder Zone 5, that plant should have no trouble making it through your milder winter.

If the plant is hardy in Zone 4 or lower, it should be fine in the warmer winters of Zone 5 and 6.

See more here.

Buy plant tags

Not only should you buy plant tags, you should actually use them!

If you buy plants in a six-pack, you get only one plant tag. If you plant those six plants in two groups, only one group will be labeled. That’s fine for annuals that are already in bloom, but what if you have two groups of perennials? Will you remember what that unlabeled group is next spring or will you pull up the plants thinking they are weeds? And chances are the plastic tag won’t make it through the winter, so you it doesn’t help you in spring.

Invest in some good plant tags.

You can also make plant tags yourself.

Don’t make this the only time you shop

When you’re shopping, you may be drawn to perennials that are in bloom now. If those are the only ones you buy, you won’t have any flowers later in the growing season.

Make it a point to stop into garden centers throughout the growing season.

1 Comment on “5 tips on shopping for plants in Western New York

  1. Connie, Just send the members to Eden for the best plants and growers willing to share their plant knowledge. Along Rt 62 or Gowanda St. Rd. ,at 6936 we have Braymillers Market, also on Rt 62 at 7502 we have Eden Valley Growers, and at 7952 Rt 62 there is Agles Farm Market. Around the corner at 7884 Sisson Hwy, or Rt 75, we have Henry’s Gardens and at 2163 New Jerusalem Rd. just off Rt 62 we have the Yager Farm Greenhouses.

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