When choosing plants from the nursery, always look for healthy leaf growth, perhaps new shoots and good colour in the leaves. Plants that look pale and show no sign of new growth could be root bound or unhealthy and will take longer to establish in the ground than a plant that is obviously vigorous. There is always a temptation to buy advanced trees and shrubs to give the garden an 'instant' foliage look, but often the advanced plants are root bound and when planted out, will take many months to establish new roots and begin growing. Smaller, healthier plants will often overtake the larger ones when planted. This doesn't mean that you should not buy advanced stock; look for good leaf colour and new shoots and check the container to see if roots are protruding through the bottom.

If they are it means the container has become too small for the root ball and the plant is probably root bound. This means that all the roots will be growing in an encircling ball, twisted in and out and forming a tight, packed ball of roots which will take months to begin growing into the soil. A rootbound plant can be helped by gently untangling the roots and spreading them out, perhaps it will be necessary to cut them so that they point outwards and down, the direction that they will grow into the soil when planted. The main tap root should be also re-directed down if possible. A plant that
has a ball of rootsis almost not worth planting unless the roots are pried loose and untangled, redirected so that they will begin to grow properly out into the soil, not continue growing in a circular direction around the plant's soil ball.

Most plants come in tins, black polythene bags, in hessian or bare-rooted. Bare rooted plants should be planted without much delay and those in hessian should be kept moist and planted as soon as possible. Plants in plastic bags or tins can be kept longer but must be kept moist as tins and plastic pots dry out quickly. It is much wiser to prepare the ground for the plants before they are brought home from the nursery. In this way, there is far less risk of loss.