Plant swaps

We all love the word “free”! It’s an especially wonderful word for all gardeners.
By Mary Conroy
Plant swaps

We all love the word "free"! It's an especially wonderful word for all gardeners. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned gardener you may have heard about plant swaps. Experienced gardeners love to pot up offspring of favorite plants to share with others while newbies love to receive these free pass-alongs. No money is exchanged for plants, and nothing is sold. How great is that?

Most people who are able to check out the Internet garden sites will see lots of lists of spring and fall plant swaps all over the Carolinas. Many of our local papers and garden clubs also are good sources to find plant swaps. Here is an excellent site for plant swap get-togethers: www.gardenweb.com.

Plant swaps are a great way to network with like-minded people. Plant swaps are not just about sharing plants but also bulbs and seeds. At some point every gardener realizes perennials will look better if divided, and this is a perfect way to pass along these plants.

If you need advice about what does well in your area or if you need native plants, a plant swap is a perfect place to start. Ask gardeners about a favorite plant, and they share wonderful stories of how they came to have this or that plant.

How to run a successful plant swap

Fall is an ideal time to hold a plant swap. By this time of the year you know what plants you want to part with. Although many perennials may not have shown their full glory, gardeners are ready to do transplanting this time of the year.

Hold the event in someone's backyard or inside someone's garage should it rain. You may want to use a public garden space if you have a large crowd.

You can invite just a few gardening friends or open the event up to the public. A large-scale plant swap is a perfect event for your garden club, a senior's organization, a neighborhood association.

Get the word out by e-mail sent to garden friends or distribute invitations or fliers. Tell gardeners to bring perennials, annual seedlings, shrubs and vines.

To do in September

Fertilize established lawns around mid-month. A general recommendation to use is 10 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet of lawn. The three fescue-fertilizing holidays are Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day.

Control winter weeds with a pre-emergent herbicide applied Sept. 1–15 on lawn and shrub plantings.

Overseed warm season grasses with ryegrass in late September.

Use pelletized lime for surface application. Do not till into soil.

Peachtree borers are serious pests of all members of the prunus family (cherry, plum, peach, apricot, nectarine, cherry and other laurels, and flowering varieties of fruit trees). Timing is critical for control. Use Dursban or Thiodan in late August or early September. Spray from the lowest set of branches and thoroughly wet the trunk down to and around the soil line. Repeat the application in early spring before fruits form.

Prepare plants for dormancy. As day length shortens and temperatures begin to cool down, trees and shrubs prepare for the winter. To permit the plant's internal processes to proceed naturally, do not fertilize or prune, and gradually decrease watering. Properly acclimated plants have a greater degree of winter hardiness.

About the Author

Mary Conroy is a Master Gardener in Forsyth County. Visit her online gardening forum: www.gardeningcarolina.com

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