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Plant swap and sale a chance to try new things

Rowan County Master Gardener Volunteers will hold their 13th annual Plant Sale and Swap on Saturday morning, May 2.
Open to the public, the plant sale begins at 8:30 a.m., and the swap will begin at 9 a.m. Both will conclude at noon. The plant swap and sale will be at the Agricultural Center on Old Concord Road. The sale and swap will be outdoors again this year under the Outdoor Learning shelter and in and around the greenhouse.
The Plant Swap is for perennials only. Master Gardeners have been known to select the unusual for their home gardens and are eager to share those plants that have unique characteristics. Exceptional plants are always in demand.
As plants mature and become crowded, quantity and quality of bloom decline. Now is an excellent time to divide perennials. To lessen shock to the plants as they are being transplanted, try to choose a cool, overcast day.
Depending on the plant characteristics, there are several methods to use for division. Use a sharp spade or knife to remove portions of the crown for perennials such as coral bells. This will ensure that sufficient roots are available to support each new plant.
When the entire plant is dug up, the result is usually more pleasing to the eye. The plant is then divided into pieces; one division replanted in the original location. Sedums, hostas and daylilies respond well to this method. Many other perennials drop seeds (columbine, blackberry lily, hellebores and campanula) so that you need only dig up the volunteers and relocate them.
Creeping perennials often root sections away from the center of the plant. Carefully dig up the rooted section and disentangle it from the main plant. In all cases, prepare the new location(s) by loosening the soil and adding amendments if necessary.
Plant the division at the same depth as the original plant and water thoroughly. It will be necessary to water the new plantings until they are established. After dividing, plan on bringing any surplus plants to the swap.
The Plant Sale will not begin until 8:30 a.m. There will be no early sales or early selection. The sale plants are either donated by Master Gardener volunteers or have been propagated by volunteers during one of their popular Propagation Clinics. Cuttings have been taken from specimen plants in locations throughout Salisbury.
Master Gardeners have again propagated many desirable varieties of hydrangea this year. Those offerings will include Limelight, Oak Leaf and a large mop-cap variety.
Perennial vines will include the beautiful and fragrant evergreen clematis Armandi, five leaf akebia, coral honeysuckle and the double blooming Carolina jessamine.
There is a selection of ornamental grasses including Mexican Feathergrass and Leymus arenarius Blue Dune. There are also several varieties of azaleas and many spring blooming shrubs.
This is just a small sampling of the many wonderful perennials that will be available. The saleroom will also have many houseplants. Volunteers will be available to assist with selections, offering information regarding the plant, planting guides and care.
For those entering the plant swap, the following guidelines apply:
– Plants must be healthy, free from insects and disease, and in containers no larger than 1 gallon;
– Containers must be labeled with plant name, growing conditions and name of person swapping plant;
– Each person may swap up to five plants, but no more than two of the same type;
– There will be a $1 fee per person to participate in the swap;
– Plants obtained in the swap may be exchanged for those on the designated swap table;
– Bring only plants that you would enjoy receiving from the swap ó avoid undesirable plants such as tree seedlings, common liriope, ivy, etc. Master Gardeners reserve the right to reject any swap plants deemed not worthy.
Carole Massey is a volunteer with the Rowan County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association. For archived garden columns or other information, visit the Rowan County Master Gardener web site at www.rowanmastergardener.com.

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