Large Indoor Plant Bargains

I have noticed sales on large indoor plants at two different big box stores recently. The prices seem to be very attractive on large size plants. I would like a 5 foot real live plant for my family room which doesn’t get too wide. What would you recommend?

Yes, it is quite common for sales of large size indoor plants in the late summer. Growers in subtropical areas such as Florida where they are produced end up with a surplus this time of year. They cut the prices drastically and sell them to the big box stores. This is the very best time of year to buy a large indoor plant.

Big box stores sometimes do not give regular care to their plants.  As a result, they can deteriorate quite quickly in the store. If you buy them soon after arrival, or if they have been watered regularly, they can be satisfactory plants.

Check individual pots to see if the soil is completely dry. Check the foliage to see if it looks droopy and wilted. If possible, slide a plant out of its pot and check the roots. White roots are healthy, whereas brown roots indicate some damage has occurred.

If there are several layers of roots on the sides and bottom of the ball, the plant will need to be moved to a larger size pot soon. If you do decide to repot a plant into a larger pot, take a knife and make top to bottom slices several places around the root ball. Make criss cross slices through the bottom roots and loosen them.

Get a book or go on line to read about various indoor plant varieties. The varieties that are most successful have low light tolerance. Some of the most low light tolerant are Cast Iron plant, Peace lily, and Chinese evergreen. The Parlor Palm is a low light tolerant upright plant which doesn’t get too wide. Several other palms are also tolerant of low light. Dracaena and Diffenbachia are narrow upright plants with a reasonably low light tolerance. If they are placed close to a window, they will probably get enough indirect light.

Indoor plants should have drain holes so excess water will drain out the bottom. If you place a pot inside another decorative pot or saucer which catches excess water, make sure water does not stand in the outer container. If an inch or more of water is retained, it will be reabsorbed by the soil in the pot. When soil stays constantly wet, there is insufficient oxygen for the roots and they begin to deteriorate and die.

For best success feed indoor plants regularly. I like to use a coated fertilizer such as Osmocote which releases fertilizer gradually over a 3 to 4 month period. If you use liquid fertilizers, plants will need to be fed at least once a month.

Allen Wilson can be contacted at


Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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