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Starting Plants for Gifts

I like Ness's idea on the Mother's Day present for some flowers that she plants in her yard, but I'd like to take it a step further. ANY summer event is good for sending flowers like this. My brother's girlfriend is having a house warming, so I have started a couple of hanging baskets of nasturtium and canary vines that I am taking to her place BEFORE the party. Nasturtium like poor soil and thrive with a weekly (or so) watering. Don't water on a schedule-- water when the plants need it which can be more often than once a week. Water provides turgidity to the plants. So, whenever they seem a little limp and the soil feels dry, water them.


I also a have a few baskets started for some of my husband's coworkers who are going to the hospital for planned operations, having babies and getting married. He just lets them know what I am doing and they either let me drop the plants off at their houses or I stop by work at the end of the day. Or (for those who commute in the OTHER direction) I drive to town at the end of the day with my baskets. Be careful, what you tell people, though -- my husband told some friends that I passed my master gardener class a few years ago, so I often stop by people's houses and I find that they have lots of questions for me!

Other plants that are good for hanging baskets are strawberries-- a few alpine plants are great for laying supine in a hammock and eating like grapes as you spend the day reading! Lobelia can be trained over the edges and made to look like a waterfall and also looks great on rocky slopes.


Don't forget that cuttings of your own plants can be used to start new plants! Take a "pinch" off something like say, mint or basil, pluck off the lower leaves and soak in water -- I like to use the rose stem water reservoirs that come with the roses (that I used to get before I got married,) but you can use a Dixie cup or small glass. Just be sure to keep it in the darkness for a few days, otherwise the plant will go into shock and die. I bought a chocolate mint plant and several friends wanted to try it so I did pinches and planted them in 2" plastic pots when their root systems established! To get a bushier plant from this one little start, when it is four inches high, pinch it back to 2 and it will branch from there-- and you can do a new start with the little pinch!

I also had some snap dragons start successfully from this-- since a big garden costs a lot of money, and I am cutting back flowers until I can plant them outside, this is working well for me. The root systems get established and I plant them in plastic pots until June first. Just be certain that after you are done with your pots and tools that you wash them out -- diseases can spread if you don't.


If you plan a few weeks in advance, you can start plants like lavender with root start hormone (bought in the gardening section -- it is severely poisonous so keep it away from your toddlers.) You prepare the starting shoot, dip it in the hormone powder and then CAREFULLY plant the dirt around the plant, being careful to not disturb the hormone powder. Again, put them in a dark area, only for a bit longer like a few weeks. MAKE SURE THEY ARE WATERED! I don't advocate using peat pots as they mildew and mold too easily-- go for plastic pots.

Alouette of Wasilla, Alaska

About The Author: Alouette is a long time Clipper reader and contributor

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