Summer heat has been pounding down on us for months now and the school season is drawing near. Garden centers are starting to feel the heat as well. As the summer hurries by, most places that sell plants have begun slashing prices.

Now is the time to pick up a few begonias to brighten a spot in your kitchen, or an additional rose bush to fill that hole in the yard. Every year I have some annuals that fail to thrive, though they may be inches away from another plant that just won’t stop. The deals are growing daily, but there are a few things to watch out for while shopping for a great price.

Check the foliage, has the plant been out in the sun without enough water? Is it wilted, or does it have leaves that are turning yellow? Do they have a great big plant in a tiny pot, making the plant root bound? Tip the pot a bit and nudge it out a bit to check for any problem at the roots if you are concerned. The garden center I visited today had a large shopping cart of dead and dying plants they were collecting to haul away. Take care not to pick up something they’ll toss in a day or two–a plant under stress is not the same as one that is on it’s last leg.

Now is a great time to stretch you landscaping budget if you are careful: great perennials like trees and bushes can be had for great prices and that weeping cherry tree you sighed over wistfully a few months ago may fit in your budget now.

And if you don’t have a yard or patio to dress up, look around at herbs for your kitchen windowsill or lavish blooms for kitchen table. With a little TLC a plant that is struggling, or hasn’t quite been able to reach its potential may bring a smile to your face or he face of someone you love for months to come.