Shopping for plants is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. But cheaper and more satisfying, and the easiest way to ensure your garden, balcony or pots are always full of flowering plants, is to divide and pot up the ones you have, or save the seeds. Then enjoy them yourself – or give them away to friends, offer/obtain them on upcycling sites or join a plant swap group – there are lots on FB.
Beautiful alliums at our Menston garden
Divide and conquer!
When perennial flowers (the plants that die down and return each year), get too big for the space they are in, it is time to dig them up and divide them. The best time to do this varies with the plant, but the rule of thumb is to do it after they have finished flowering for the year – often this will be in early autumn. There is lots of good advice online so you can always find out when is the best time of year for the plant you are looking to divide; see https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants.
Ease apart clumps of flowering plants
Dig them up, pull them apart, or chop them into smaller pieces with a sharp spade – you can generally be fairly brutal – and, making sure each piece has some roots on it, re-plant one or more back into the space, and put the others into individual pots to grow on.
Want some ideas for no-fuss flowers to try? Have a look at my recent blog Easy Perennials.
Collecting and saving seeds too can be a great way of increasing the plants in your garden and having some to give away.
Allium seedheads ready for harvesting
When the seed is ripe – usually indicated by a change of colour – (and this can be part of the regular inspection of your patch) you dry it and harvest it into paper bags with a label, ready to sow again next year. Store in a dark cool place away from moisture. Put them in an old takeaway plastic box or similar so the mice can’t get to them! Many plants readily offer seed- the RHS has useful advice at Seed collecting.
I like to collect nigella and allium seeds, sometimes foxgloves and hellebores. It’s worth just having a go and can be fun to see what happens. And of course if you have squirrels in the garden you’ll know that tree seeds like acorns, horse chestnuts and beech mast germinate very easily!
Get friendly in a plant swap group
Plant swapping is on-trend as well as great for getting your hands on new plants you’ve not tried before. Especially in these cost- of- living squeezed days when any extras you have can be exchanged for a new plant or three. Many are sociable in-person swap events, advertised online or in your local community magazine.
Veg garden abundance
There’s now a swathe of community food groups, such as Plant Show Grow, which are part of the new sharing economy; they held a ‘plant and share month’ recently. FB groups such as Plant Exchange UK are focused on houseplants. Try FreeCycle and Gumtree too. And many other local and national groups offer all kinds of different seeds and plants.
There may be a Community food garden in your area that you could gift your extras to, especially if you’ve overdone it with veg seedlings. For example http://abundantborders.org.uk/community-food/ does some amazing work.
Veg garden abundance
And there are an increasing number of excellent organisations which help communities to thrive by sharing their knowledge, expertise and passion for plants. You could contribute to these – or be a beneficiary! It will all add to your enjoyment of gardening.
If you’d like to have a personalised One Day Consultation with one of the team at North Leeds Garden Design, we can help you get started with all things plant-based in your own garden space, ranging from what plants would suit your conditions, to where should your new beds be best located – just get in touch today!
Eryngiums and alliums