So, you are off to the nursery to buy yourself some veggies and/or flowers. Huzzah! Support that local nursery if you can (I’m not at all convinced the plants at big box stores get the same sort of love as they do at a nursery, but I’ve absolutely bought plants there, so you know, go where works for you!) and here are some things to look for:
Obviously you want something that LOOKS healthy. No drooping leaves or sagging stems. If there is a choice between something with a cluster of stems or just one, go with the cluster. Shy away from browning/yellowing leaves or leaves with crispy bits. This is not the time for a fixer upper!
The biggest thing here is that you don’t want something really root-bound. But how can you tell when the roots are hidden away in that pot? PRO TIP: Gently invert the pot, supporting the top and plant between your fingers, and tap the plant out of the pot. Boom. Proof of how happy or sad those roots are. You want strong roots that you can see, but not roots circling around and around the pot or pouring out of the drainage holes in the bottom.
I’m always hesitant to buy plants that have bone dry soil. To me it is a red flag so I steer clear and search out ones with good, moist soil.
Read them!!!! Make sure the plant is going to a) do/provide what you want it to (and even taste like you want!) and b) be happy with your conditions. These labels should tell you most everything you need to know, so just pay attention to what they are saying and keep in mind what you are working with back home (shade, moisture, etc.).
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask the folks working there anything and everything. This is their job and (if its a proper nursery) will have well-trained, knowledgable staff. They should be glad to help and be able to answer almost anything you throw at them. If they aren’t, consider a new nursery!