The following are tips to help you choose a better plant. Just as no job can be completed without the proper tools, no garden can flourish without quality plants.

1. Foliage: Evaluate the condition of the plant. Are the leaves green, and lush? Steer clear of any plants that are severly wilted or yellowed. Stressed plants may or may not recover.

2. Shape: Consider the shape of the plant. Is it compact and full, with multiple branches? Taller is not often better. It could mean that the plant has been straining for light and has grown thin and spindly.

3. Insects and Disease: Inspect closely for signs of insects or disease. Check both sides of the leaves. Signs can include: blackened areas, holes, spots, mushy areas, stickiness and distortions.

4. Root System: Don't neglect the roots. If the plant is pot bound and the roots are growing out of the bottom, the plant may be stressed and take time to recover. If there aren't many roots and the plant lifts out very easily, it was probably recently repotted and could use more time to become garden worthy.

5. Weeds: Weeds in the pot are competing with the plant for nutrients. They also signal some neglect on the part of the garden center staff.

6. Buds and Flowers: Plants in bud will transplant and thrive better than plants in flower.