Tips For Creating New Plants For Free

One of the many marvels of gardening is that you can create a gorgeous and productive garden with very little financial outlay. It will take longer than going to your near nursery and stocking up with everything you want. But I enjoy watching my garden evolve over time.

OK, so how do I get new plants for free? The quickest way I know is to give some of your own plants away. Yes, that's right! You probably already have something in your garden that you can divide, collect seeds, take cuttings from or dig up a few rhizomes or bulbs.

Give some of whatever you have plenty of to someone who you know is a keen gardener. Gardeners are very good at sharing. The love to share their knowledge, their plants and often their crop yields. Just try giving some plants to three or four gardening friends or family. In no time you will have plants being given to you out of the blue.

If you do not have any friends (get some), join a gardening group. There are gardening groups all around the world, some of them very specific – for example Orchid Gardeners Society. There are also many Community Gardening Groups that meet regularly. Look for something local to you.

Collecting seed is one of my favorite things to do. You need to wait until the seed is mature (very dry). Then store it in envelopes until you're ready to plant. Remember to label the envelope with when and where it was collected and what it is. Then you always have seed ready when you want more plants.

Plant division is quite a simple process. You will end up with lots of 'new' plants. The best time to divide is after the plant has finished flowering. Take a sharp spade and lift the whole clump out of the ground.

Work out rough where to make your divisions. Some plants you can tease apart with a garden fork, others secateurs are the best way to go and some you will need to slice through with your sharp spade. Discard any old shriveled looking pieces, trim any damaged roots and replant 'new' plants with a little organic fertilizer and water in well. If it's warm / hot weather, keep shaded for a few days.

Many plants will grow from a cutting taken from the host plant. A few plants will 'strike' new roots just in water. Try geraniums, ivy, mints, coleus, many aquatic plants. Most softwood cuttings should be taken in late spring / early summer. Make your cutting 10 – 15cm long, just below a leaf node. Remove the lower leaves and dip the base of the cutting in a hormone rooting compound.

Place your cuttings in potting compost, spray with water and cover with a plastic bag. Place the pot in the shade, where it will not get full sun. When your cuttings are well rooted, re-pot them into small individual pots or harden them off before planting them in their permanent site.

Plants that grow from a rhizome (root swelling) such as Iris can be divided at any time, provided you care for it as you would for any plant being transplanted. Make sure there is a healthy bud swelling on each piece of rhizome that you cut. This is where the new plant will grow from.

Most bulbs need to be lifted every two or three years. Wait until the leaves have withered and turned brown. When you dig them up you will probably find small bulbils clinging to the parent bulb. These baby bulbs can be dropped from the parent and planted out on their own next season.

These tips are a few ways to create new plants for free. There are more ways than this, but these are the easiest to start with. Have fun expanding your garden.