Exchange or give away your surplus plants!

Spring is the main season for moving plants around. You plant out summer bulbs and annuals, dig up, move and divide perennials, sow annuals and vegetables… and inevitably, at some point, you find you have too many plants to handle. Maybe you miscalculated and sowed too many zucchinis (what gardener hasn’t done that!), but often it’s that your plants have expanded, so you divide them… and there’s only so much space available for planting those divisions.

Over time, therefore, you end up with a plant surplus. What are you supposed to do with them if not to toss them in the compost?

Well, why not share them instead?

How to Share Surplus Plants

There are many ways to share perennials, bulbs, vegetables, indoor plants, excess seeds and any other plants that you just have too much of.

  1. Offer them to friends and family, especially to someone who’s adding new flowerbeds or increasing the size of older ones;
  2. Give them to your local garden club if they organize a plant sale;
  3. With friends, organize your own plant sale and give the proceeds to a local charity;20170429BEN.jpg
  4. Participate in Plantcatching, a unique sharing platform for gardeners;
  5. Participate in a plant exchange if there is one in your area;
  6. Contact a hospital or hospice with a hortitherapy program to see if they might be interested;
  7. Sell them at a flea market;
  8. And the simplest of all: 20170429DEN.jpg
    Put them on the street in front of your house (but not on garbage day!) with a sign reading “Free plants! Please take one!”

The latter method works like a charm for me. I’ve rarely seen a plant last more than 2 hours if I put it out on a nice spring day.

Good Manners in Plant Sharing

There are things to do and not to do when you give away or exchange plants.

To Do

  1. Always identify the plant to your best knowledge, even if only with a common name. If you do know the name of the cultivar (example Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’), of course, add it. You can simply write the name on the bag or pot or insert a small label in among the roots;
  2. Better yet, prepare a small info sheet and staple it to the bag, pot or label. Include details a gardener would need to know about the plant (whether it needs sun, partial shade or shade, its dimensions, its preferred soil conditions, etc .);
  3. Place the plant in a pot or bag and water enough to thoroughly moisten the soil. Why offer a -plant that’s dying because you dug it up and left its fragile roots exposed to the drying sun?

Not to Do

Garden friends don’t give garden friends goutweed!
  1. Never share or give away diseased, insect-ridden or invasive plants. For example, don’t even think about giving away goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’) or Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), far too invasive for any garden. After all, if you’re trying to get rid of a plant because it causes you problems, it’s not very nice to share the same problem with others.

Giving plants away is actually a lot of fun. You get brownie points for being the grower and sharing advice, which makes you feel appreciated, plus you meet other gardeners with tastes similar to your own and often develop solid friendships. And if it’s an exchange, that’s even better, as you come away with new plants to try.

Why delay? Share a plant today!Échange de plantes/Plant exchange

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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