Pass-Along Plants in the South
By: Mickey Gazaway
Pass-along plants have been a gardening tradition since Gardeners became Gardeners. If we have a plant that we like, we always feel the need to share it with others. Many times, these plants were passed on to us from family and friends for generations, and most with interesting stories. We think of these stories when we come upon these plants in our gardens. Many of these old plant varieties are not available in Garden Centers and are only available when shared from other gardeners.
This morning, as I walked around my garden, on this cold gray day, low and behold, my first bright yellow Daffodils were blooming. It made my heart sing! These bulbs were given to me by my Aunt Evie, who dug them up from our old home place in Monroe County.
I love to imagine my Great-Great Grandmother, taking the time to plant flowers when she had so many other chores to do. Who knows, maybe her Grandmother brought them from Ireland and passed them to her? I have given many of these bulbs to family and friends and always try to share their story.
Among my favorite pass-alongs is a beautiful white Peony, given to me by life-long Dallas resident, the late Mary Smith. She dug this from her childhood home on Main Street. It greets me every spring with a wonderful sweet smell.
This summer, everybody was amazed at my beautiful Confederate Rose, given to me by my friend George Barber. I love the way it starts out white, and then changes to pink then turns red. I made lots of cuttings in the fall so I could share this with others. My Angel Trumpets, Hellebores, and Pink Oxalis are also treasures given to me by friends.
Other favorites are Native Azaleas; rescued by my friend and fellow gardener Jean Wright, from what is now Six Flags when it was being built. Many more of these Azaleas were still growing on her old property in Marietta the last time I visited.
Pass-alongs can be from cuttings or root divisions or seeds. My friend, the late Guy Harris gave me seeds from Queen Ann’s Pocket Mellon. This fruit was carried in the pocket to make the ladies smell good. Another unusual bunch of seeds came from Jay Fletcher of Marietta. They were called Giant Sword Beans and the bean pods were over 18” long. (Not sure, what they were used for.) I have never seen either of these in a store or in a catalog.
Also, do not forget to share treasured houseplants. I have a Jade Plant that has been in my family for generations and what could make a better Christmas Gift than babies from that very long-lived family Christmas Cactus?
I hope many gardeners will continue this tradition. Do not forget to pass along some of your favorite plants and be sure to include a little note along with them, telling their story. However, if you are the recipient of a pass-along plant it’s VERY IMPORTANT to always remember the old gardener’s rule:
“Never thank someone for a plant they give you, or it will die!”
Mickey Gazaway, is Master Gardener Extension Volunteer. These volunteers are trained experts, who answer questions about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and environmentally friendly gardening practices.