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Building a garden of perennials for free!

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

Can you imagine building your flower gardens with beautiful flowers or bushes at no cost?

Most times we slowly build our perennial gardens based on our budget. This means that many plants are prioritized and we don’t purchase some because they are too much money for just a “decoration.” Other plants, like edible ones are needed and should be first priority. For instance, buying and starting edible perennials need to be planted first since, many times they take a few years to reap a benefit. These include asparagus, fruiting bushes, trees, rhubarb and nuts to name a few.

When you are starting to build food sources and landscaping the costs can be high, resulting in little getting done at a time as money is available, but I know a secret....

Do you know that most perennial plants can be “cloned”.? This means that a new plant can be started by just taking a clipping and rooting it to create a new plant identical to the original, such as shrubs or bushes. This included blueberries, elderberry and roses! Many plants can also be broken up at the rootball and separated into many little already rooted plants, such as hostas, rhubarb, horseradish, artichokes or iris. Many plants have root systems that are shallow and spread out and get bigger in diameter making it easy to take a small amount of plant including the root and replanting. Plants like these are many times herbs and many medicinal plants.

This past fall I visited my brother and sister in law. They had bought a house that had several beautiful existing flower gardens, but didnt know what plants were planted in them. She had spent several years trying to tackle and maintain them, but its hard starting in when you have a continuous blooming garden and are not familiar with its contents. This makes it hard to know the difference between weed and perennial seeds that are sprouting. They were going wild, expanding and overgrowing the beds and she was just at her wits end. I told her we could do one garden before I left so I could show her what was the best way to deal with it. This way she could do the others as she had time.

When you have a garden like this, the best way to bring it back is to start from scratch. First, the best time to do this is late fall. Why? Late fall is the time the plants are already falling into their dormancy winter sleep. This means moving them now is less traumatic for them and you don’t need to be so diligent watering them while they get established again. The next reason is, for the most part you will still be able to identify them.

This brings me to the reason for this post. When we were doing her garden she had this beautiful hydrangea! I had never seen one like it and was in love.... I want one! Not a problem if you know this information and skill! I took a 6 inch tip of a branch that had young growth and brought it home. I picked off the bottom leaves leaving a top set of leaves. I dipped the bottom leaf nodes in rooting hormone and then in dirt. I also clipped off the top 1/2 of the top leaf set. I put this whole pot into a gallon ziplock to create a microclimate greenhouse environment and placed it in filtered indirect sunlight. Thats it! Leave it and let it thrive. I think its been about 2 months now, I have done nothing to this and look! New healthy baby leaves! I will leave this for a couple more weeks, then I will transfer it to a larger pot and this summer it will be ready to plant in my gardens! It cost me nothing, but a little root hormone and a lot of time. It will always be a special plant because I made it and when I see it It will always remind me of my sister in law ❤️

The moral of this story.... help your gardening friends in their garden maintenance and you will take home many new plants to make your own! The help is appreciated and working with a friend always makes a job fun! In using these techniques I have gained many plants over the years and each one is special reminding me of the giver! I have many plants from friends gardens including roses, elderberries, hostas, rhubarb, flocks, hens and chicks, hydrangeas, lilacs, plum trees, mint, peonies and the list goes on. Go help, learn and plant! It doesn’t have to be a “budget build”, just a passion to grow.

The sky is the limit... there is always more than one way to achieve a goal. We don’t need to limit ourselves based on the obvious option. Think outside of the box and break those mindsets, problem solve! You got this!

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