Having a beautiful garden doesn’t have to mean spending all your vacation money at a local nursery. There are lots of inexpensive ways create a lovely natural environment without breaking the bank.
Cuttings are a great way to get beautiful plants for free! You can take cuttings from plants already in your yard or ask a friend or neighbor to let you cut a sprig from one of theirs. I’ve grown large, healthy foliage from oleander and Japanese yew clippings. But lots of popular plants can be propagated with cuttings, including: hibiscus, rosemary, camellia and geranium.
Most cuttings will grow if you just stick them in dirt and water them, but you can give them a little boost by applying a root propagation mixture to the cut end first. You can purchase commercial ones at most garden centers. There’re also a variety of homemade options using everything from fertilizer and water to honey.
Will Work for Pups
Some plants propagate by sending runners a short distance from their own root balls and growing mini me’s at the end of them. If you’ve ever seen an airplane plant, that’s what’s going on with all those tiny plants hanging out of the pot. You can cut the runner – which is basically like an umbilical cord connecting the new plant to the parent – as long as the baby has some roots. The runner is just there to support the new plant until it can develop its own root system.
In larger plants the offshoots are called “pups.” My century plant and sago palm both make pups like crazy. In fact I got them from other people as pups. Periodically we have to clean the pups out of our beds to keep them from taking over, and we just give them away to anyone who’ll take them.
Talk to your friends and neighbors. You’re bound to turn up someone who will let you have all the pups you want for free if you’ll just come dig them up.
Plant from Seed
Seeds are obviously less expensive than established plants. However some plants are easier to grow from seeds than others. I’ve found that zinnias actually do better if you grow them from seeds, but I wasn’t as successful growing tomatoes from seeds.
Buy Smaller Plants
When putting in a flower bed I recommend purchasing smaller plants and seedlings rather than larger ones. Not only are the small plants less expensive, but they do better in the long run if they can establish their root system in their permanent home, rather than in a pot.
Do it Right the First Time
If you take a little extra time to put your plants into the ground the right way, you’ll save a lot of money on replacing them year after year.
I planted a shared flower bed with a neighbor. We purchased our plants together from the same nursery, but each did the planting on our own. I prepped my holes properly and filled them with water and fertilizer before putting the plants in them. They didn’t. They have to replace some of their big plants every year. Mine are all original.
Take the time to make sure you’re planting the right plants for the space. Putting heat tolerant plants in full sun and shade loving plants under trees gives them a fighting chance and ensures you’ll be spending less money replacing them next year. Also, find out which flowers are perennials before making your selections. They’ll come back next year, but annuals won’t.
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