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Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to Get More Plants for Your Money

As everyone does I like bargains - especially when it comes to plants. I'm always looking for plant sales at local nurseries and of course the big box stores. Sometimes I find deals on the discount racks then try to save the wayward plant. Often those plants are just neglected and need a little TLC and they become good as new but sometimes they are beyond my help. Most of the time though I can't count on discount rack having something I like and I have to resort to other measures to save a few dollars. Below you'll find a few rules that I use to help me reduce my gardening budget!

My One Plant Rule
My one plant rule to put it simply is that I never buy more than one of a kind of plant if I think I can root it easily. If there is a plant I like and it's at regular price it's OK to buy it as long as I limit myself one of that kind of plant. With that one plant I'll take cuttings and make several more plants from the original plant. Most perennials are very easily propagated like the salvia I mentioned last week and annuals like coleus can easily be propagated in water to make more of once they are mature enough.

Related Rules:

The Tomato Rule
Now I usually start my tomatoes from seed but if I did buy them from a store I would follow my one plant rule for tomatoes. If you take a stem of a tomato and place it in a jar of water it will root - very easily. Just leave one or two leaves at the top and remove all the rest and watch for roots to grow. It's a very easy way get a deal on tomatoes!

The Basil Rule
The basil rule is pretty much the same as the tomato rule. Basil roots very easily in water. Last fall I preserved basil over the winter that is still alive and sitting on our windowsill.  It's desperately wanting to be planted outside so in the next few days I'll see that it gets a home in the garden.


The Multiple Plants Per Pot Rule
I always look for the pots that have more than one plant. Often growers will sell plants like basil with three seeds initially planted in the pot to increase the success rate on their pots. Having three seeds in a pot is a little insurance against losing one or even two plants. Sometimes perennials and shrubs will have layered or are able to be divided.  In either case I look for pots I can get a two for one deal on (or more if possible)! Ornamental grasses are a prime example of a plant that can be divided into several more.

The Six Pack Rule
Annuals typically are cheap - cheap - cheap when found in six packs but sometimes stores will sell a single larger version of the same annual for a higher price. Not only is the plant more expensive but you one get one plant! Those little bitty six pack plants will easily grow to be the same size as the larger single one and may only take a week or two longer. It just makes more sense to buy small. 

The Already Rooted Plant Rule
I realize that this falls mostly under the first rule here with plant propagation but it is a slightly different variation. Sometimes you'll find plants that have a little bit of rooting already happening. I bought a lobelia the other day that had this nifty trait happening. The plant had two main stems and one of them had already sprouted some roots along the stem. This happens with many plants when the stem is shrouded in darkness from the surround foliage. The plant thinks those areas are under soil and sends out roots to gather more water. When a plant roots along the stem it's a perfect opportunity pick up an already rooted cutting! Just snip it and pot it up. It may need a little babying until it's roots are extensive enough to fend for themselves. Looking for this trait is also a great way to figure out plants that are easy to root.


I hope you enjoy these ways to save money in your garden. I know my gardening budget always does!

11 comments :

  1. I get some of my best propagating tips here! Thank you very much.

    I do have a question:
    I bought a strawberry plant- which is now growing a single fruit. However there are no runners. Assuming this is a runnerless variety, can I cut one of the leaves (since they have hairs on them like a tomato plant) and stick it in water to propagate.


    [ You might think, why not just run out and purchase a plant that runs. However, where I'm from strawberry plants are very very difficult to come by. So I think that's the reason this seller is selling a runnerless variety. I'll have to wait until I travel to purchase seeds that produce runners.

    Thanks,
    Anna

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  2. Dave, You always have such helpful hints. I'll be back again soon to look up other propagation tips you've posted! :-)

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  3. Dear Dave .. great tips ! .. we are always looking to save money and get more bang for your buck ? : )
    Now that a lot of my plants are becoming "mature" some what like me ? LOL .. I and able to divide them and spread the love ! ;-)
    Joy

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  4. Anna,

    You can propagate strawberries by division easiest but that can take some time. I would try taking a sharp knife to the root crown and removing a leaf with just a little bit of the roof crown attached. You could do several plants at a time without endangering your mother plant. Then plant the cutting in a soilless potting mix. Our strawberries have runners so I haven't needed to try that but that is what I would do with a heuchera.

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  5. Thanks SG!

    Joy,

    Mature plants are great fun aren't they? Doesn't that carry over into people too? ;) I divided a heuchera the other day into ten divisions. Pretty fun stuff!

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  6. Glad I'm not the only one to look for extra plants when I buy new ones. I bought three pots of black mondo grass over the weekend. Most of the pots had one or 2 clumps about 6 inches high. I chose the pots that had many more clumps, although they were only about 3 inches high. I'll divide them up and have more for my money.

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  7. You are a very smart shopper Dave and an even better propagator! I like the tip on buying pots with more than one plant in it. You can find these easily and it sure helps.

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  8. Very frugal gardening Dave! It really is a smart way of gardening. I just picked out a few plants that were able to be divided this morning...It just makes sense and even if I buy more then one, I still look for dividable plants and get even more plants~~gail

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  9. I used to do a lot more plant propogation but now I do dividing because I need a more instant garden.

    I just bought an expensive Algerian Ivy and I will cut it into two to fill outside wall sconces. I find the chopping works best with a small saw or a serated kitchen knife.

    Eileen

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  10. Dave,
    Thanks so much for answering my question.
    I'll give it try and hope it works.
    God Bless,

    Anna.

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  11. Hey Dave, I have a question about my ponytail grass I bought last week. It's in a 4 inch pot. Can I divide it into several plants when I plant it in the garden or do I have to wait until it gets bigger this fall?

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