Swap or buy a plant at annual event

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2011

By Carole Massey
Rowan County Master Gardener
SALISBURY — Rowan County Master Gardeners will hold their 15th annual Plant Sale and Swap on Saturday morning, May 7.
Open to the public, the plant sale begins at 8:30 a.m. and the swap will begin at 9:30 a.m. Both will conclude at noon. The plant swap and sale will be held at the Agricultural Center on Old Concord Road. The sale and swap will be outdoors, under the Outdoor Learning shelter and in and around the greenhouse.
There will also be a silent auction with garden themed items donated by local merchants and Master Gardener Association members.
The swap is for perennials only. This is a great way to exchange one terrific plant for another and perhaps go home with a very exotic, unusual variety. As the swap has grown in popularity, so has the quality of the plant material brought by the swappers. The more unusual the better, but recognizing that a plant must meet the needs of our Zone 7 requirements is still an essential element.
As plants mature and become crowded, quantity and quality of bloom decline. Late winter, early spring is a great time to divide perennials. To lessen shock of 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 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. Pot and label accordingly. Growing requirements are appreciated.
The Plant Sale will begin at 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 propagated many desirable varieties of hydrangea and viburnum this year. There is a huge selection of ornamental grasses including carex, Mexican feathergrass and Muhlenbergia capillaris Pink Muhly.
There are also several varieties of camellias featuring Lady Laura, Taylor’s Perfection and Yuletide. Many other flowering shrubs, including buddleias (butterfly bush-one with a yellow-leaf and purple bloom), and a variegated leaf weigela, as well as a dainty pink flowering plain leaf weigela.
There are two abelia varieties, Kaleidoscope and Katherine. For the shade garden there is an assortment of hostas.
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 one 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 — avoid undesirable plants such tree seedlings, common liriope, ivy, etc. No houseplants are allowed in the swap. 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.See www.rowanmastergardener.com.