A good way to buy indoor house plants and flowers is to buy them rather in the same way as one chooses salad vegetables. Look primarily for crispness and colour. Whether the plant you seek bears flowers or whether it is grown for the beauty of its foliage, a healthy plant has a certain crisp appearance about it. Stems are turgid, stiff, not limp or drooping, even if it should be a trailing kind. Colour should be deep and glowing, leaves should be gleam. Be suspicious of any plant which seems faded in appearance. Certain leaves have metallic sheen on them which is more intensified when they are in the pink of condition. Hairy leaves should look new-brushed and not shabby.
Accept nothing that has spot on it, that is, unnatural spots which are obviously the result of burning or disease. Some leaves may appear to have dried brown edging to them. Do not accept a young plant in a small pot in this condition for this is usually an indication of a damaged or sick leaf. A indoor plant should fill its pot. Be suspicious of a plant whose pot looks too large for it. Ailing leaves may have been cut away.
Always examine the growing tips and shoots to make sure that they are sturdy, plump, healthy and capable of further growth. Buds should be succulent. Pointed tips as in philodendrons should be well filled. If they are papery they probably do not contain living shoot and this indicates that the plant was neglected at some time. Whether the plant is a temporary or permanent kind always treat yellowing leaves with suspicion, unless of course, they are supposed to have yellow variation in them.
If you buy indoor house plants for gifts, do not collect them too much in advance of the date when you want to give them. Certainly order these well in advance. If you take the plants home soon, they will begin to adjust to your own home conditions and then when you pass them on to another home they will have to begin all over again and they may sulk.
Never leave plants wrapped. Wrap plants at the last moment if you must. If you are going by car and the weather is fine you can take plants unwrapped. Guard against the plant falling over about. Quite often the best way to secure it is to take a cardboard box, turn it upside down and pierce the centre. From this hole make a few incisions, short and long according to the size of the container and press the pot down into the space thus made. Another method, and this is good for small plants, is to fit a box or tray with a block of oasis foam and to press the point into this. If the weather is really cold when you buy plants, avoid street stalls and ignore any indoor house plants put on show in the open air.