Thursday, September 9, 2010

PassAlong Plants

The superstitious say, "Never say 'Thank You' for a plant that someone gives you or it will die."  I don't know if that is true or not, but why take a chance.  I think that the best things in life are free. This statement is usually made by someone with little to no money (and I am proof).  However, in the garden it is a very true statement.

A PassAlong plant is a plant that someone shares with you.  It could be passed down from your grandfather, or your mother, or another family member who had received the plant from one of their ancestors who valued something about the plant. Or, it could be given to you over the back fence by a gardening friend. Either way it is a gift from one gardener to another.

One of the great benefits of PassAlong plants is that every time you work with, or around that particular plant it brings back the fond memories of the friend or family member who gave it to you. It’s like planting memories in your garden! Every plant has a story and a name attached – not just the name of the plant, but the name of the person who shared it with you.

PassAlong plants tend to be some of the best garden performers. The plant has to be easy to grow and easy to propagate or the gardener won’t have enough to share. They are generally given to you by someone who lives near your location which means that you know it grows well in your zone.

Many PassAlong plants are not available at the local garden centers and must be given and received by gardening friends. Many of these plants have survived for decades by being passed from one gardener to another.

Beware of PassAlong plants that are invasive. As I said earlier, PassAlong plants are easily grown and propagated. Invasive plants are also easy to grow and propagate – often too easy. They grow like wild, and self-seed all over the place becoming more of a weed than a desirable plant. My father gave me a baggie of seeds before he passed away and said, “Plant one of these and you’ll love the colorful flowers.” Well, I did love the colorful flowers the first year – I did not love the hundreds of little plants that were covering every square inch of ground in my garden the second year. Be cautious and ask your gardening friend lots of questions about the plants they are offering before planting them in your yard.

All in all, PassAlong plants are a blessing for the giver and the receiver and will be cherished plants for years to come. So get out there and make some gardening friends with a PassAlong plant. (Just don't thank them for the plant!) Together we can make the world a more beautiful place – one plant at a time.

Get your hands dirty!


  1. I love the passalong idea - it is the ones that have been given to me by people that are now no longer alive that provide the coolest element of gardening. Continuity.

  2. Thanks for the comment Catharine - I like the idea of Continuity too.

  3. The plants I buy from nurseries usually do not last. But the passalong ones are doing great. I believe in passalong. I have grown many potted plants and given them away.

    I'm quite sure I have thanked the givers already...

  4. The plants that came from friends and my parents home are the BEST plants I have because I can pass them along with a story about the person that I got it from. It keeps the plant alive and it also keeps memories alive.

  5. I heard a story about a yellow rose in my area that came from English pioneers. One woman brought one precious start from her home and managed to take care of it all through her journey. That single start survived and its posterity is still surviving to this day as far as I understand.

    I have a type of sedum in my yard that my Grandmother gave to me. She lives 2,000 miles away from me, so having this plant is special to me. So, yes, passalongs are pretty dang cool! :)


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