Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PASS-ALONG PLANTS: a Southern gardening heritage

One of the great pleasures of gardening is sharing information with family members, friends,and neighbors. But perhaps the best benefit of sharing with other gardeners is receiving and giving pass-along plants.

Sharing plants is an especially strong tradition in the South. Pass-along plants are easily propagated, often unavailable at a retail nursery, and "passed along" to other gardening friends. Each holds a story of where it came from and the loving hands that grew it whether you trade with your next door neighbor or attend an organized plant swap. I have pass-along plants that were given to me when I lived in Florida that traveled to Georgia and now reside in my South Carolina yard! I feel close to the giver whenever I see them in my yard. I have also passed along plants to my friends in all 3 states and hope they have the same good memories.

Many old varieties, such as Confederate rose and heirloom vegetables, are available only as pass-along plants from other gardeners, who have often cultivated them for generations. A pass-along plant is defined as one that can be easily propagated and given away. But when and how does one acquire them?

Fall is a good time for acquiring pass-along plants, with divisions, seeds and cuttings as the usual methods of propagation. Here are some tips for each.

Divisions: the rule of thumb in plant divisions is that the plant should be divided opposite the season when it blooms.
Thus, those plants that bloom in spring and summer can be divided now. Some examples alliums, cannas, ox-eye daisies, coreopsis, crinums, crocosmia, dianthus, gladiolas, daylilies, iris, and phlox.

Seeds: seeds can be collected and saved for spring planting or for starting early indoors or in a greenhouse. There should be many seeds available for such old favorites as coral vine, cypress vine, cardinal climber, hyacinth bean,
butterfly weed, yarrow, coreopsis, purple coneflower, gaillardia, gaura, salvias, and many others.

Cuttings: for plants that aren't winter hardy, you can make cuttings to carry over indoors or in a greenhouse,
for setting out next spring.

Here are our some popular plants to hand down from generation to generation.
Keep your eyes open for pass-along opportunities so you can participate in the enjoyable activity of sharing what you have with others and having others share with you.

spider lily
ginger lily

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