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Lessons from a Plant Swap

posted in: Home and Garden

Yesterday’s Plant Swap was easy to organize, fun to be part of, and really helpful to gardeners.  People with established gardens found homes for their extra plants, and people with bare yards got freebies to take home.  So I say let’s make Plant Swaps a Greenbelt tradition, with two every year, spring and fall.  To me, they’re no-brainers, and that’s Lesson One.

plant swap at Greenbelt Homes Inc


Lesson Two is that they’re over in a flash!  So be there before it happens, or don’t bother coming.   People who attended the first swap last fall knew this and arrived in time to pounce at the sound of the starter pistol (or equivalent).   Unfortunately, the GHI website listed this event as going on from 10 a.m. to 12:30, which caused who knows how many people to show up long after the swap was over (at about 10:15).  Next time, we hope to avoid that miscommunication.

plant swap at Greenbelt Homes Inc


And Lesson Three is that plant swaps can easily lead to sudden plant death – unless the basics of  How to Water Your Garden are imparted to newbie gardeners going home with adopted plants.  That’s because bad watering practices are the leading plant-care mistake that leads to dead plants.  Just ask any garden center, especially one that guarantees all their plants, even when it’s obvious to the staff that the customer didn’t water the plant enough or the correct way, but can’t prove their hunch because the customer is always right, blah, blah.

The danger of plant death by bad watering was especially great yesterday, with plenty of sun forecast for the rest of the day and the next, too.  So plants unceremoniously yanked from the ground need to be put in the ground immediately and their root zone drenched, and then possibly drenched again a few hours later and twice the next day.  And maybe daily for a few days if the sun holds up.  That means no sprinklers, no fine misting, and no thinking that a shower from the heavens would do the job – of drenching the root zone.

And just because a plant is native or called “drought-tolerant” doesn’t mean it can survive the aforementioned yanking out of the ground any better than other plants.  Drought-tolerance is almost always a trait that develops “after the plant is established,” and that could mean a whole season.

So I link to “How to Water Your Garden” again because it’s saved many a new plant.  It’s written by me with the staff of Behnkes.

plant swap at Greenbelt Homes Inc

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog weekly at GardenRant.com.

  1. Kristin E.
    | Reply

    Thanks Susan for the How to Water Your Garden article- great advice!

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