Tips on how to be a frugal gardener

Gardening can be expensive if you rely strictly on nurseries and garden centers.

Take advantage of every opportunity to save money by growing your plants from seeds and cuttings.

Many plants growing in pots on my patio were inexpensive because I grew them this way. Seeds planted this spring grew into lovely zinnias, purple horsemint and cleome. Cuttings from last year's plants provided a bounty of scented geraniums, fancy-leaf geraniums, Mexican petunias and bloodleaf.

The list of garden flowers grown from seed for beds and borders in a long one. At this moment in the garden, the big showstopper is bumblebee daisy (Rudbeckia triloba). This is a biennial plant, meaning that it has a two-year growing season.

The first year the plant simply produces a low mound of leaves. In its second season, it sends up branched stems of gold and black "bumblebee" flowers. It blooms in late summer and fall when its vibrant color is most welcome.

At the end of its second season the plant dies--but not before dropping many hundreds of seeds. They will sprout in spring and continue the cycle. My entire population of bumblebee daisies sprang from a single packet of seed sown about 15 years ago. It's ideal to sow half the seeds one year and the second half the next.

This way you'll always have plants in both stages of their two-year life cycle.

Bumblebee daisies grow in sun or partial shade and are somewhat drought tolerant. Wind or heavy rain may bend them. Remedy this with a stake and twist tie. Pick up the bent plant and push it back past vertical. Insert the stake at the base (facing you).  Let the weight of the plant rest on the stake. Tie the main stem to the stake. It's helpful to wet the soil at the base thoroughly so you can push the stake in well.

Take advantage of other plants that may produce seedlings. Keep an eye out for seedlings of lavender, phlox, purple coneflower and many other perennials. Now is an ideal time to carefully dig them up and transplant them to a nursery bed. They will settle in well before winter. Next spring they can be moved to permanent positions in the garden.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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