Bags of twig

My neighbor knows that I have a hard time turning down a free plant, especially if it's a native, or something I don't yet grow. Last year I got some redbud seedlings from him, some big bluestem grass, and an amorpha fruticosa -- possibly more that I can't recall right now. So when he texted me this weekend asking if I wanted some River Birch saplings, I said "sure".

A few minutes later I had a bag of twigs, or should I say "bags of twig", as each plastic bag contained a single sapling. I wondered for a minute why they weren't all in a single bag, but then remembered that these were from a school-related activity of some kind and there were probably many small hands involved in bagging these small trees.


He let me know that these had been in the bags for about 48 hours, and he wasn't sure if the roots had dried out or not. The trunks all looked fine:

But the first thing I did was take a look at the roots:

They seemed fine to me, but a little dry, so into a bucket of water they went. A good soak will rehydrate them fully:

Did I mention that there were a lot of them? I don't really need this many River Birches, but I'm not sure if all of them will survive, so I'll pot them all up and see what happens.

Since I'm unsure as to their viability, I'll put three in each pot to conserve potting mix and save myself some work:

So I've got a little forest of River Birch now.

Do I have any idea what I'll do with these? Do I know how many will survive? Do I have a place to plant even one of these in the ground right now? The answer to all of these questions is "no". But they are young plants that need my help, at least for a little while, so I'll provide it.

This should also convince the wild saplings growing in all of my planting beds that I actually am starting a tree nursery. (Not really. I'm going with some reverse psychology there, pretending that I'm really interested in growing as many tiny trees as possible. The way things go in my garden, that will immediately kill off at least half of all saplings in my yard. I'll let you know how it works.)

In the meantime, I'm now eager to see how many of these little trees will be waking up in the next few weeks. Am I hoping that they all will? I'm really not sure.


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (April 5, 2011 at 11:29 AM)  

Alan, it's fun getting plants to survive and thrive. You can always give them away later.

I don't know what to do with my four Queen of the Night cacti either. Too bad I can't send you one :-).

:: Bamboo and More ::

LisaJennings  – (April 5, 2011 at 2:16 PM)  

I think they should do a "Hoarders" TV series for plant collectors... I can join you on the first episode! Its just so hard to say no to free plants. Best of luck!

Jono / Real Men Sow  – (April 5, 2011 at 4:12 PM)  

You want them all to survive, I know you do!

Here in England, there is a small 'Guerilla Gardening' movement, where plants are planted after dark in all sorts of weird and wonderful places - I reckon you should do that with your birches...

Alan  – (April 5, 2011 at 4:34 PM)  

Jono: Guerilla gardening is an interesting idea, and seems to be picking up steam, and is worldwide now. From little projects like making seed bombs that can get thrown into abandoned lots, to big "let's plant stuff in this median strip and hope we don't get arrested" projects. I love it.

You will be freaked out if you find a river birch sapling in your allotment this year.

Lisa: the problem is that show would just be called "Normal Gardeners" and nobody would watch it. =)

Steve Lau  – (April 5, 2011 at 5:46 PM)  

I thought about doing some guerilla gardening with some hardy bamboos around here, but the problem with that is once people realize that bamboo grows in this climate, and see it growing in an abandoned lot, they might take it.

This year, my plants will be big enough to give me lots of divisions. I just need another pool-liner, or one of those huge tarps that Alan uses so I can over-winter more plants.

anne  – (April 5, 2011 at 6:35 PM)  

maybe the Parks Dept in your city or a local town would want some - especially if they are donated?

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (April 5, 2011 at 6:49 PM)  

We are avid believers in Freecycle. I've gotten a lot of stuff from there, including many plants, and given away a lot of stuff.

Donna  – (April 6, 2011 at 5:48 PM)  

Always an adventure when you get wonderful young plants and you have no idea what you are going to do with them...

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens  – (April 7, 2011 at 7:31 AM)  

How fun, and I believe river birch is a native tree. You could distribute your trees to various schools, parks, and restoration projects in your area. I love free plants.

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