How To Start a Garden Plant Collection

I have a lot of friends intimidated by the idea of having a garden. Maybe they think they'll kill it all, maybe they think it's too much work. But thinking of it simply as a collection of individual plants might make it more approachable. You can build small, you don't have to invest much, and it's fun to watch things grow.

Start Small: Like any collection, the point isn't to go out and buy the whole thing in a weekend. It's fun to start with one inspiring 'first' and then build from there.

Do Some Research: Collections are more fun when you're learning about something new. So take a look around and start noticing what plants you like. Then find out what they're called and if they grow in sun or shade. Find out how big they get. And then see if you want to add it to your collection…

Don't Spend a Lot: Anything that costs a lot is bound to get tiresome. So look to friends and family that have a plant you admire and snap off a branch (with permission of course) to start your own planting. Image 3 above is my mom's kitchen sink where she normally has a handful of new cuttings taking root in water. Especially with succulents, snap off a branch and put it in water — it should root and then you can plant it with potting soil (cactus soil is even better) and boom, you've got a plant. (This method works with begonias, and a lot of other plants, too!)

Or you can buy the itty bitty plants at the nursery that are just a couple of bucks each. Pick ones that intrigue you and then watch it grow at home; much more fun than just buying a full grown plant.

Have a Plant Buddy. Just like how going to flea markets is more fun when you're with someone else who appreciates the activity, it's the same with gardening. Geek out with friends over the Latin names of plants, admire the container planting at the restaurant you're eating at, and of course, swap cuttings.

(Re-edited from a post originally published on 9.15.2010 - CM)

(Images: Beth Zeigler, giantjeansparlor, Laure Joliet, Laure Joliet)

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