Passalong Plants

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Indian Chief 1929


Southland 1934


Passalong plants is a term coined in the South. It refers to those plants we acquire because another gardener shares a start, cutting, bulbs or seeds. Although my family doesn’t have Southern roots, we long ago took the term – and the practice – to heart. When we go to visit, we nearly always cart along something for the garden. I’m always on the lookout for new plants. I’ve collected seeds from the local library’s Abyssinian gladioli, from crape myrtles planted on city streets and from annual flowers blooming in deserted vacant lots.
In my own garden, I have:

  • Eucalyptus, flowering quince, coreopsis and wisteria from my father.
  • Lilacs and violets from our first house.
  • Crape myrtle, hawthorn, daylilies and alders from my sister. My most recent acquisitions from her were a huge jade plant, a pinkish-gray succulent called graptosedum and a dozen Watsonia bulbs.
  • A purple re-blooming iris, rain lilies and a coral trumpet vine from a woman with whom I’ve been friends for over 40 years.
  • Iris from my grandmother’s garden. They were her favorite flower and she grew dozens of different varieties. Over the course of her 98-year lifetime, she gifted thousands of iris plants to family members and friends.
  • Mystic Melody 1949


    Natchez Trace 1964

    Currently I have my eye on starts from the Cecile Brunner rose that was planted next to the original house on the ranch my parents bought when I was in my late teens. Since the man who sold it to them had lived there at least 50 years, the rose bush is probably closing in on a century of bloom. Our neighbor just up the road has an iris collection planted by the former owner that badly needs to be thinned, so that’s on the agenda for this fall. One of the leggy tomato seeds I rescued this spring turned out to be a delicious orange cherry tomato, so I saved seeds from several plants.
    What passalong plants do you have in your garden?

    Beverly Sills 1979

    Coral Magic 1979

    Edith Wolford 1986

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    4 Responses to Passalong Plants

    1. littleleftie says:

      Hostas are great as passalongs. We divide ours every 3-4 years but in alternate years, our son (who got his as passalongs from me) divides his so there is always a constant supply. All of our respective neighbours have been gifted pieces.
      Also, black-eyed susans, which came from my Mother’s garden and the seeds for a tall red salvia variety that I cannot get where I live, are a favourite passalong of mine. Love ’em!

    2. Denny144 says:

      I pass along seeds of my milkweeds and orange butterfly weed. The plants are expensive and it’s very difficult to dig up an established plant and have it survive. So I save seeds and usually have a waiting list. Since the seeds need an extended cold spell, now is the time to spread them.

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