The pounds can quickly add up when you start shopping for plants but there are many ways you can cut costs and still have a fantastic floral display without spending a fortune.
Gravel can be a curse as anyone who has it knows… you spend half your time pulling unwanted weeds out of your path or drive, turn your back and they’ve regrown again but gravel can also be a blessing as it provides the ideal growing medium for self seeded plants from you borders. Carefully tease the seedling out and you should find a perfect set of roots newly released from the stones. Pot them on like any other seedling and you will soon have a strong new plant that can be transplanted in to your border and fill in any gaps. Free plants – what a satisfying way to restock your flowerbeds!
Deadheading is such a simple but essential method to elongate the flowering season. A plant’s main focus in life is to replicate before they die so once flowers are spent they stop putting energy into producing new blooms and concentrate all their efforts in to making seed. You can delay the inevitable by snipping off dead heads and slowing down this process, essentially tricking the plant in to producing new flowers to ultimately make seed… eventually!
Annuals, repeat flowering roses and herbaceous perennials respond well to deadheading but take care not to remove all potential rose hips. It is a fine line between deadheading for new flowers and leaving enough hips intact to give you a fabulous autumn display. When blooms do fulfil their destiny then seed can be collected in a paper bag or envelope, dried and sown in your own garden or shared with friends; completing the circle of life with more free plants.
Divide plants & take cuttings
One of the easiest ways to increase your plant stock is from cuttings and dividing your existing plants.
Indoor plants such as Pilea peperomioides do the hard work for you. The mother plant produces babies, plantlets, from her roots. Once these roots form leaves of their own you can slice them off the mother plant and pot on. As they already have their own roots they quickly establish themselves as a new plant. They make an ideal gift for a friend!
In autumn or early spring established herbaceous perennials such as hostas benefit from being divided. Plants can quickly out grow their space and become cluttered so dividing can increase vigour and of course multiply your plants.
Dig out your clump and put two forks back-to-back through the centre and prise apart. Likewise some plants may require sawing or a sharp spade sliced through the middle. It seems harsh but the plants soon recover.
These days many of us are on a water meter and if not then being as economical as possible with water is important for the environment to reduce strain on local resources. Collecting rainwater is the most natural, simple way to help keep your garden blooming. Set up a water butt to collect the run off from your roof or tap into your down pipe. We are increasingly seeing summers of prolonged drought, which makes it even more imperative to collect every drop available to us. Without water, plants cannot transport nutrients from roots to stems to leaves. Water is essential for photosynthesis so keep your plants turgid and you should have healthy happy plants.
Make your own compost
One of the greatest gardening expenses is growing medium so save yourself some money by making your own. You can either buy a purpose built compost bin or construct one from wood. Locate in a discreet area in the garden for easy access but not in full view.
Ideal compost material comprises of healthy garden waste, lawn clippings, coffee grounds and uncooked food waste. Avoid woody material unless you have shredded it, cooked food as it may attract rats and do not compost perennial weeds such as bindweed as the roots will not decompose and you will be reintroducing the offender back into your garden.