Plant trading

Getting plants via mail order is fun and exciting. You place the order, wait a week or two, and a box shows up full of new plants. If you've never done it, you should give it a try.


Even better though is trading plants with other gardeners. It's like buying mail order plants, but free! (Well, except for the price of shipping.) I received one box of bamboo rhizomes earlier this year, and today I look at another more recent plant haul.

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This trade was for a specific plant, but the person sending the plants (thanks Steve!) packed a few extra surprises in the box too. I love it when the box arrives and is just bulging (see above photo)! This one was jam-packed:


Since I didn't know exactly what I'd find, I just started pulling bags out. First out was a nice big Sempervivum ("Hen and chicks"):


Next, some sort of sedum that Steve included because he knew I like sedum:


It looks like it may be a type I already have that's quite an aggressive spreader, but I won't know for sure until it breaks dormancy and starts growing. Very thoughtful of Steve to include it though.

Next up are some small bamboos:



I'm excited about these, but I won't completely unwrap them today. I had to unwrap this little seedling though as it was all jammed down into its cup. I'll completely unpackage and pot them up in a few days when the weather is nicer.

Finally, the focus of this trade -- the plants that are the "core" of this transaction:

Not really a phone book, but as heavy as one.
I should point out that depending on the size of the plants being shipped -- actually, the size of the rootballs -- they can be quite heavy. A tip: the US Postal Service "flat rate" boxes are a fantastic deal for shipping heavy plants.

The reason these particular plants are so heavy: they have thick "tubers", and are a plant that grows in boggy conditions: gunnera manicata.


There are actually two division in here when I was only expecting one -- another reason that trades can be better than mail order plants. When was the last time you got 2-for-1 or extra plants in a mail order?


Unless you like big clumps of mud, these aren't much to look at right now. They do have the potential to become a real show-stopper though, as they produce huge leaves. I'm really excited about this, because with all of the small-leaved bamboo around my yard I need some large-leaved plants for contrast.

Back in the box to be potted up in a couple of days.

I'll be getting a box of plant materials together for Steve this weekend, and sending it will complete this particular trade. I'll probably be trading with other gardeners throughout the spring, as it's just too much fun! It's also a great way to try new plants without spending much money.

I should point out that some states have restrictions on plants sent through the mail, so please do your research.

Then trade away!

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LisaJennings  – (March 17, 2011 at 8:12 AM)  

What a great idea! I just got bulbs in the mail (which is exciting) but never thought of sending plants in bags like that. I guess my concern would be too much heat/cold on the plant in shipping but yours look happy!

Gerhard Bock  – (March 17, 2011 at 9:53 AM)  

Wow, a Gunnera manicata! I've always wanted to have one. The leaves can't be beat for sheer impact. Unfortunately, our climate is just too dry in the summer.

I agree, plant trades are lots of fun!

:: Bamboo and More ::

cathysue  – (March 17, 2011 at 10:21 AM)  

i have never seen nor even heard of a gunnera manicata. sounds like something you'd order in an italian restaurant. wow! they're huge! trading sounds fun but i don't think i have enough to offer anyone else yet.

anne  – (March 17, 2011 at 11:38 AM)  

now that's a plant that needs lots of real estate! (I checked out pictures of it)

Janet/Plantaliscious  – (March 17, 2011 at 12:14 PM)  

Fabulous, I've only ever swapped seeds by post before, though I know people who do it with plants. I always love to pass plants on to people though, and receive them too.

Steve  – (March 17, 2011 at 12:17 PM)  

I'm really looking forward to when my gunnera leafs out which should be in about another 2 weeks, maybe a bit longer since it hasn't been a warm spring like last year. They do take up lots of space, and suck up lots of water with their enormous leaves in the summer.

Looks like the Parv got a bit dried out maybe from removing too much soil to get it to fit in the box, but that shouldn't impede its growth of new shoots in another month.

Helen Lewis  – (March 17, 2011 at 12:27 PM)  

I'm glad that you are advising your friends to do their research. This is particularly important when sending across states and countries. Like you said they can become a weed in one place if they are invasive. And most importantly, they could also be carrying some pests and diseases. Plant exchange is a great idea but it can undermine the efforts of the government to protect our agriculture industry.

Alan  – (March 17, 2011 at 2:30 PM)  

Helen: great point. I wouldn't attempt to trade plants with somebody in another country. It's also important as the receiver of trade plants to know if there are any restrictions on the plants you're receiving.

Alan  – (March 17, 2011 at 2:32 PM)  

Technical note about this post: you may notice that this page is slower than others on my blog. I realized that I used images that hadn't been resized -- they're full resolution! Sorry about that.

Donna  – (March 17, 2011 at 7:21 PM)  

wow I love mail order plants but have never swapped plants with others via the mail...hmmm may have to give this a fun try...

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