October 25, 2021 4 min read

How do you know you’re buying a healthy plant when you go to the nursery? What’s the big difference between quality and price?

The plant market is flooded with cheap, unhealthy plants using poor quality potting mix and inferior short-lasting fertilizers. The quality of your plants and how they are reared is of the utmost importance to give your new plants the best chance of thriving. Here's what to look for when plant buying, so that you can enjoy beautiful, healthy plants at home. 

Our advice is to get it right the first time. It’s imperative that young plants are provided with all the quality nutrients needed to ensure they continue to thrive once you plant them in your garden.

Potting Mix

A good quality potting mix is an essential growing medium for plants in pots as it provides everything they need to grow, flower and fruit to the best of their ability. Quality potting mix really matters in terms of how well your plant transplants into the garden or how well it grows in the pot.

How to identify cheapo potting mixes (** and avoid!)

  • Un-composted wood shavings or sawdust and sand
  • It has no texture, no structure and therefore only minimal nutritional value
  • Is badly aerated which starves roots of oxygen
  • Does not include a quality slow-release fertiliser

How to identify good quality potting mixes (tick of approval)

  • Look for quality raw materials which show organic matter
  • Check how long they will last in the pot they come in
  • They will contain controlled release fertiliser to feed for six months or more
  • They may include a professional grade wetting agent to help with moisture penetration and retention


Ask questions about how long the fertilizers last for when you’re buying plants. All our plants use long-lasting slow-release fertilizer which can last up to 12 months. A lot of the time nurseries use cheap fertilizer which may only nourish your plants for a matter of weeks or be completely ineffective already.

Root systems

Roots are all important, so check those carefully. Check out whether there are many roots or not. If the plant is pot-bound and the roots are growing out of the bottom, the plant could be stunted or weakened and may never recover.

On the flipside, if the plant lifts out extremely easily, it was could have been recently re-potted and need more time in a pot if planting it out.

Insects and disease

Check your plant purchases carefully for signs of insects or disease. Inspect both sides of the leaves and the potting soil and container. Signs of infection can include holes, spots, blackened areas, mushy areas, stickiness, distortions and webbing. Don’t buy plants with these signs. They could infect your other plants.


Take a good look at the foliage condition of the plant you’re interested in. Are the leaves green, shiny and lush? Avoid plants that are wilting or yellowing. Stressed plants may not recover and could spend a month or more recovering in your garden, if they recover at all.

Customer Reviews

Choose plants from a reputable seller like Sunshine Coast Plants, with plenty of positive reviews to back its products. Positive customer service reviews are important as you know there will be someone there to answer any questions you may have after purchase.

Know What Your Plant Species Should Look Like

Be aware of the normal appearance of the plant species you want to buy. If the plant is supposed to be tall and a bit spindly or tight and compact and they are not matching their typical characteristics, don’t waste your money. While some plants possess distinctive features, like yellow-green foliage or a weeping growth habit, plants that don't appear ‘normal’ often have serious problems.

Stay Away From the Nursery Sales Table

The Sales table at a nursery can often be the place where almost dead plants which need to be disposed of are sold to clear them out. We all love a bargain and price haggling for a  great deal can give us a buzz, but it maybe a short term buzz if your plants don’t last long. When you buy from us, the haggling has already been done. We offer great quality plants at affordable prices, so you can feel confident you’re already getting an awesome deal. Whether it’s Tropical plants, hedging and screening, Palms, Outdoor or Indoor plants we have a diverse range of healthy, top quality plants to support your garden projects.

While there can be some variations in growth due to soil preparation etc, any lack of performance is typically down to the lack of nutrients in the potting mix the plant is growing in at the time of purchase. Buyer beware!

If you are looking for high-quality plants to add to your garden, check out the Sunshine Coast Plants online store and take the hassle out of getting your plants home. We deliver direct from the nursery to your home or worksite. Servicing Southeast Queensland, Northern NSW, and beyond.