Don’t you just love getting something for free? What better way to improve your garden than to add some green without spending any green?
Self Seeding and Spreading Plants: These beauties will do the work for you! Plunk them in the ground and let them do their thing. Water them well for a few weeks until they are established and walk away. Seriously. Plants to try: Sedum, Vinca Major, Vinca Minor, Solomon’s Seal
Sweat Equity – Trade a little Work: Last Spring I spotted daffodils growing in the woods behind the building where I work. I struck a deal with the property owner to transplant half of them into a landscaping bed in front of the building in exchange for the other half of the bulbs. I brought about 7 large clusters of bulbs home.
Dividing: Dig the plant up by the roots and slice it in half if it’s small or into more sections if it is a large plant. Be sure to leave plenty of healthy roots on each section. Hosta, Liriope and Scented Geraniums all take this well.
Layering: This technique works well for one of my favorite plants, the hydrangea. With an investment of a little work and some patience, you can have a sweep of hydrangeas for free. Here’s how: In the Fall, find a healthy lower branch of the plant without flowers. Without disturbing the leaves at the tip, break off the next lower set of leaves down to the branch. The place where you removed the leaves is the node. Gently lower the node to the ground, loosen the soil under the node, then pile about an inch of soil over the node and place a rock or brick over to hold it in place. Water occasionally if needed. Wait until Spring and check on your plants. New growth at the tip of the branch indicates that your baby plant has taken root. Leaving the rock or brick in place, snip the branch between the weight and the mother plant and wait a few more weeks before transplanting the baby. Try this with Forsythia too.
Propagate in Water: My brother and sister-in-law had beautiful purple sedum in their wedding centerpieces. Afterwards, I took several of the cuttings and placed them in clear glasses of water on my kitchen window sill. Topping off the water occasionally, in a few weeks they had formed nice long roots. I then transplanted them into pots and eventually into a garden bed.
Municipal Swaps and Give Away: A neighboring town hosts a plant/bulb/seed swap at their library. Bring a plant, take a plant. At the end of the growing season, our city offers a plant give-away. They remove flowers and grasses from municipal planting beds and heap them up in a parking lot. There is usually a mix of annuals and perennials, so it helps to know which plants you want and what type of care they will need.
Pass Along: These may be the best plants yet; plants with a story. I love to walk around my yard looking at plants that came from my Grandma’s garden in the Midwest. I have pink peonies from plants that my Mom recalls watching my Grandpa dig up from his mother’s yard nearly 60 years ago. I have Lily of the Valley from my in-law’s garden and loads of pass-alongs from my sister-in-law.
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