June 24, 2010

An Affordable Flower Combination

Buying plants can be an expensive endeavor. Whether you are a beginning gardener or an experienced one who has large sections to plant, you can make your money go a long way by selecting plants that will increase in number. Perennials that can be reproduced from seed or through division will stretch your investment.

You may have noticed that some plants have patents or trademarks. Propagating patented plants through division, layering or cuttings (known as asexual reproduction) is prohibited without permission from the patent owner. Offspring resulting from seeds are not prohibited. However, with most patented plants, the seeds will not be true to the parent.

A trademark, on the other hand, is ownership of a registered plant name. A registered (®) trademark (™) protects a company brand, series, or plant name. You can propagate or divide the plant into more plants, but you can't give it the same name if you sell the offspring.

Two perennials that make an affordable and beautiful pairing are coneflowers (echinacea purpurea) and bee balm (monarda didyma).

The purple coneflowers have been blooming since late May. I am deadheading regularly now in order to keep the blooms coming on strong. When the flush of blooms ends, I'll leave the seed heads to dry on the plant, both for the birds to eat and for seed collecting.

My coneflower of choice is the open-pollinated 'Prairie Splendor' for the abundance and size of blooms, the rebloom and the fact that I can collect seeds and grow more. There are also a few echinacea rubinstern 'Ruby Star', another self-seeder, among the mix. Not all coneflowers can be grown true from seed, but the offspring from seed of 'Prairie Splendor' and 'Ruby Star' are like the parent plant.

I am gradually increasing the numbers by planting the seeds in the low part of the garden in rich, moist soil. When the seedlings are mature enough to bloom, I transplant them into my design plan.

Someday, I'll have the desired effect in large masses. This budget-conscious gardening takes awhile, but I cannot see buying more plants when I know that I can grow my own. It takes a little patience and the planting of filler annual flowers, also inexpensively grown from seed, to keep from being too impatient.

Bee balm is another smart choice for creating big swathes of color in the garden. Take one bee balm, give it rich soil and moisture and it will spread quickly. In only a year, you'll have a nice clump. By the third year, you'll not know what to do with all of the plants!

The cool colors of bee balm are just now in bloom and catching up with the early coneflowers. There are two colors that I like to pair with purple coneflowers. Monarda didyma 'Raspberry Wine' is my favorite for impact, but monarda didyma 'Blue Stocking' is my favorite for widespread use as the color seems to work well with so many perennial and annual partners. In another part of the garden, I grow the bright red and tall 'Jacob Cline' that blooms earlier and is currently going into a second flush of flowers after being deadheaded. There are many colors of bee balm and shorter varieties on the market.

If you select flowers that can easily be grown from seed or plants that spread quickly and can be divided, the cost is then reduced to a few cents per plant to grow a large garden of flowers!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer resistance varies based upon deer population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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