Wednesday, May 7, 2008


After reading Jen's post over at Our First Garden, I thought that I might share with you my thought's on pass-along plants.
I believe in always being prepared when it comes to acquiring free plants from generous gardeners. You must always carry in your vehicle the necessary items to make the sharing of plants as easy as possible for both parties, the giver, and the receiver. The givers will be so impressed when you open your trunk and show them that you are prepared to receive as many plants as they are willing to share. They will also feel that anyone so prepared to take the plants, can also be counted on to take good care of them when they get them home.
The items that you will need will all fit into a shoe box, so there is no excuse to leave home without it. In what I call my 'Pass-Along' kit I carry these essential items.
1: A shower curtain. This is the most important item because it is cheap, folds up into a very small area, unfolds to cover a very large area, and most important, keeps my car safe from loose soil, or wet plants. This item is also very handy for garden center visits. I would never venture out on any trip without a shower curtain.
2: plastic grocery bags. We all have tons of these, so keep 10-or 20 in your kit so that each shared plant can have it's own bag. The bags can be labeled on the outside or by using the number 3 item in the kit, old plant labels.
3: Old plant labels, and marker. I keep old plant labels and a marker in my kit so that the name of the plant can be added to the bag, or written on the outside of the bag. If the person sharing the plant with you knows the name of the plant, by all means, write it down. Don't count on your memory. If you are lucky enough to get lots of bags, it will be very hard to remember which plant is which. You can also write on the bag whether the plant grows in sun or shade, and other notes about it.
4: A pair of gloves and a knife. Always have a pair of gloves on hand, and a kitchen knife, or the root knife, shown in the picture, that I bought at Lee Valley tools. It cost's $8.50, and really works well. I have several of them, and they have held up great. I even use them in the Fall when I am cutting the foliage from daylilies back for the winter. The knife is used for dividing a perennial or cutting a small start from the main plant. You may also want to keep a pair of pruning shears in your kit if you have an extra one.
5: Camera. This is not essential to the kit, but if you take a picture of each plant that you get, you will be able to look at them when you get home and decide the best place to plant it in your garden by noting the size that it is in your givers garden.
When receiving pass-along plants from other gardeners the rule of thumb is not to thank them. The belief for this is that the plant will die if you thank them for it.
I always thank the giver for plants that I receive, and don't feel that I have suffered any losses because of this. I do think that if I appeared ungrateful, they might not be as generous next time, so I ignore the 'no thank you' rule.
Don't get hung up on having the name and variety of plants that you receive. After all, they are free! Some of my favorite plants are unnamed. The miniature Iris in the picture had no name, but it always blooms first thing in the Spring, without fail, and I like it as much as any of my named varieties.
Now, to be honest, in all of the years that I have been sharing plants, not one person has ever showed up with a "Pass-Along' kit. So, to remedy this situation, I keep plenty of bags and tags handy, so at least when they get home, they know what they have got.
Maybe I should make up these kits and market them? Hey, if they can sell pet rocks, anything is possible!


Cinj said...

For me not to say thank you would feel so wrong. I have thanked all of the plant givers for their lovely plants and have rarely lost any plants. (I have lost many roses, but none of them were ever pass alongs.)

Robin's Nesting Place said...

A shower curtain is a great idea for visiting nurseries!

I just wish I knew a few generous gardeners. With a fairly new neighborhood, so few of the young families grow much, so there hasn't been too many pass along plants up here for me.

SuzyQ said...

Thank you for the great tips! I will have to be sure to set up a little kit in my car for just such occasions! Never thought of using a shower curtain - that is brilliant!

Karen said...

Great Ideas! I would have to say thank you too, otherwise I would feel like I'm being ungrateful.

Marc said...

This is a great idea! Sign me up, I'd buy a pass along kit from you! I could have used these tips a few years ago when I was taking the master gardener classes. We would always end up at one of the participants houses, or a speakers house and they would have plants to share. I never could take many home since I wasn't prepared like you. Another item to add to your list might be a small folding camp shovel to help dig up plants needing to be separated.

Great tips!

Cathy said...

Thank you for sharing your tips. What great ideas!