What To Do with Plant Impulse Purchases

What To Do with Plant Impulse Purchases

Matthew Noiseux
Jun 16, 2010
The petunia above is one very popular plant this season. Its name? Pretty Much Picasso. It has a siren song that many plant buyers are finding irresistable. Are you guilty of walking out of a garden shop with a highly unplanned purchase bought solely out of plant lust and not much else? And once you get it home, then what?

Despite our already rich and varied plant history, every year plant breeders come up with a myriad of new plants to tempt us and separate us from our money. There are already a mountain of Petunia options, yet people will flock to get the new and exciting purple and chartreuse Picasso blossoms. Proven Winners is the company that is responsible for this hybrid, by the way - the sheer number of just their Petunia hybrids will make your head swim. But heirloom companies also drag up forgotten beauties to tempt us with every year, too. Old House Gardens is one such company, and they annually sell out of virtually all of their heirloom bulbs!

I can personally take a pass on Picasso, but I still have my own Achilles heel:

For me it was a group of Passionflower vines from Logee's Greenhouse. Despite knowing how large one would grow, let alone three, I was drawn into the idea of these plants blossoming with abandon all around our windows. I even knew in the back of my mind that really, honestly, the light in the windows might not be sufficient. Or the humidity. And they would need to grow on or up...something. But, mind you, Logee's is a very convincing place where anyone can walk in and feel their brown thumb instantly turn green. And so it went, me walking out the door with my flat of exotic plants, into our rental car and off to our New York apartment. Somehow my wife is immune to the call of the plants, but she humors me every time I come home with that one plant I inexplicably had to get.

So what do we do with these impulse plants if we really don't have room or the right place for them?

  • Looking for local plant exchanges or related groups on Meetup.com, or Freecycle.org may be options, but ones I haven't tried. One great, established resource is the Gardenweb.com plant exchange forum. Gardeners go there to exchange unwanted plants...for other plants (sorry, not money). If you are just looking to offload the plants and not exchange for anything, sometimes newbie gardeners are looking for free plants to start off with and will pay the postage.
  • Pass along these plants to a friend who might enjoy trying their hand at keeping a plant. This is where mine increasingly end up.
  • In my neighborhood people often leave items outside with a 'free for the taking' sign, and most items are readily snapped up. I have never tried it with plants, but maybe one day soon!
  • And since I live in an apartment building, I know that others have my sun exposure. So my downstairs neighbors may also soon end up with plants!

So now you know my story of Passiflora (Passionflower) plant hoarding - do you have one to share? Or have you been the unwitting recipient of someone's overstock?

Matt writes a weekly column on plants, flowers and gardening. Feel free to e-mail questions to matthew@apartmenttherapy.com

Created with Sketch.