When we first moved to our home 5 years ago, it was a mostly blank slate. A few exotic plants here and there and ivy. Lots of ivy.
In transforming our lot into a garden for food and wildlife, I visited a lot of nurseries. I bought a lot of plants. And spent a lot of money.
Five years later, most of our yard is full of happy California natives, herbs and other drought tolerant, pollinator-friendly perennials. While the plants are fairly well established, there are still bare spots waiting to be filled.
I have decided, however, that I have spent enough money establishing my garden though. I'm now putting my plants to work for me by growing my own perennials. I use 4 primary methods for growing perennial plants.
I learned how to propagate by accident when a new prized native perennial had a branch snapped off. I quickly read up on what to do and ended up turning that broken branch into a new plant.
Island Bush Snapdragon - my first propagated plant. It is 3 years old.
|Island Bush Snapdragon, all grown up. Ground nesting birds - Juncos- nest inside.|
|Some of my recently propagated plants and runner plants. They will be ready for planting in the fall.|
GROWING FROM SEED -
Growing perennials from seed requires more steps and patience and sowing annuals but is basically the same process.
|Milkweed and Hooker's Evening Primrose growing in my greenhouse now.|
Once your seeds are ready to be planted, treat them just like annuals - put them in a starter mix, keep them warm and well-lit and well watered. Unlike annuals, which can be transplanted out to the garden in short order, these little fellows need more pampering. I have lost many perennials by transplanting them before they were ready. It works better to pot starts up to a larger container and let them spend from 6 months to a year - depending on variety - in a pot. At that point, they are big enough to survive the big bad outdoors.
Monarch butterfly on native milkweed in my backyard.
If you want to grow a perennial that you do not have yet in your garden, buy the seed from a reputable source. To grow from a plant in your backyard, simply collect the seeds and plant. My native milkweed bloomed last year and I happily collected the seed. As I type this, those seeds are germinating in my greenhouse, producing more milkweed plants for more neighborhood monarchs.
|California buckeye - the result of a buckeye seed planted last fall.|
|California fuchsia (front) reseeded itself in the perfect spot. California figwort (middle) grown from seed last year.|
|Lamb's ear reseeded itself in my garden path. I transplanted it last fall to fill in the front of a side yard bed.|
|Hummingbird on California fuchsia|
|Grey hairstreak butterfly on chaparral mallow|
Similarly, I planted a native elderberry a few years back. Sadly, the elderberry died its first winter but a single woodland strawberry plant that had hitched a ride in the nursery pot thrived, and spread and spread. Last fall, I was looking for a native ground cover that tolerated shade to plant in the front yard. When my Internet search landed on woodland strawberries, I did not hustle down to the nursery. Instead, I simply dug up the requisite amount of strawberries from the patch in the backyard.
|The back half of this bed is full of woodland strawberries. Free to start with, they have spread nicely. I've take some out for planting elsewhere in the garden.|
Although growing your own perennials takes time, it results in a full garden and wallet. Do you grow your own perennials? What methods do you use?
This post is part of the Tuesday Garden Party, Maple Hill Hop and Green Thumb Thursday.