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I Would Have No Garden if Not For Free Plants

When I left SW Florida for the second time, I brought very few plants with me, around 12 to 15, if I recall correctly. most of them were mature plants I couldn't give up and some were pots full of cuttings from others that I gave away or sold. I also brought a bag of seeds I had saved or gathered here and there. Everything I brought was precious to me.

Along the way, some died or tried to die. I lost my beautiful pink Thanksgiving cactus, but I luckily had cuttings started, although it will take years to get it back to that size. My Clivia was almost eaten alive by snails, and is still recovering from it's near death. My beautiful pink orchid cactus died, and there was nothing I could do to save it. My yellow Thai Crown of Thorns almost died, and I still haven't planted out or potted up the remaining pieces. My staghorn fern was doing well until it got here and got sunburned and almost died -- for the fourth time. I'm keeping it indoors for the summer. My purple epidendrum orchid all but died, and is now struggling to come back from some tiny keikis that survived. Another orchid died altogether, but honestly, I didn't expect that one to live, because it was never really healthy.

I thought I would never have a beautiful garden again. I moved from here to there, never really finding my footing, picking up a few plants along the way. Now that I'm finally settled into a place that seems to love me and my plants, I decided to take an inventory and see how many plants I have and how I came about them. I was SHOCKED at the number and diversity of the plants I have which were gotten primarily for free.

So I made a list of the freebies. I have bought only a few plants since I've been back in FL; some half-price vincas from WalMart and a few 75% and 90% off plants from Lowe's. All totaled, those were about $5. This is how I got the rest:

List of free plants in my garden

From McCrorie Community Garden

  1. Lemon grass - grew from one sprig I got off a plant at the edge of the compost pile
  2. Tithonia - Dug up a volunteer plant from the pathway
  3. Mirablis logiflora (Sweet Four O'clock) - volunteer growing in my plot
  4. Sweet potatoes - volunteers in my plot
  5. Amaryllis - gift from a fellow gardener
  6. Red-leaf canna - gift from a fellow gardener
  7. NOID cherry tomato - grown from seeds from a fallen fruit
  8. Spearmint - Dug up escaped plants in pathway
  9. Red tropical sage - Grown from harvested seeds
  10. Rosemary from a cutting from a fellow gardener

From My Current Apartment Complex

From tenants moving:
  1. "Little Ruby" alternanthera
  2. "Japanese Giant" coleus
  3. Purple lantana
  4. Yellow/orange canna
  5. NOID white-leaved syngonium
  6. Red & White Amaryllis
  7. Purple wandering jew
  8. Dwarf oyster plant
  9. Kalanchoe luciae 

From around the property:

  1. Purple Queen
  2. Arrowhead syngonium
  3. Blue-eyed grass
  4. Clerodendrum bungeii
  5. Green spider plant
  6. Coral bean
  7. Loquat seedling
  8. Crocosmia
  9. Wild blue violets

In the courtyard when I moved in:

  1. Banana
  2. Giant Xanthasoma elephant ear
  3. Peppermint
  4. Red pine cone ginger
  5. Aloe greenii
  6. Asiatic dayflower
  7. Red, orange and yellow tropical hibiscus

From roadsides, vacant lots, parking lots, etc:
  1. Crinum lilies from a vacant lot
  2. Ruellia "Purple Showers" from escapee on roadside
  3. Wild Petunia - Ruellia caroliniensis from roadside
  4. Mimosa tree (seed) from roadside
  5. Agapanthus (tiny babies) from parking lot
  6. Variegated flax (babies) from parking lot
  7. African iris (seed) from parking lot
  8. Cassia bicapsularis from cuttings from city property
  9. Bulbine cuttings from parking lot
  10. Shrimp plant escapees from roadside
  11. Yellow butterfly weed escapees from roadside
  12. Florida roseling from the roadside
  13. Green wandering jew - Tradescantia fluminensis from the roadside
  14. Magenta four-o'clock (seed) from the roadside
  15. Coontie and seedlings from an abandoned lot
  16. Liriope from an abandoned lot
  17. Red and Yellow coleus cuttings from abandoned plants around a closed business

From friends, trades & free seeds:
  1. 4 NOID Brugmansias
  2. Peacock ginger
  3. Black coleus
  4. NOID Papaya (probably Miradol)
  5. Golden pothos
  6. Various bromeliads
  7. "Dart frog" caladium
  8. Taro
  9. Red stripe leaf amaranth
  10. Blue walking iris
  11. Everglades tomatoes (seed)
  12. Cayenne peppers (seed)
  13. Black cherry tomato (seed)
  14. Seminole pumpkin (seed)
  15. Angled luffa (seed)
  16. Albemoschus manihot (cutting)
  17. Various ornamental and veggie seeds not yet planted
  18. Red Thai crown of thorns
  19. Yellow dwarf poinciana (seeds brought with me)
  20. Dragon fruit (store-bought plant seeds)
  21. Talinum fruticosum - Ceylon spinach
  22. Datura inoxia (seeds brought with me)
  23. Datura "Double Purple" (seeds brought with me)

That's 75 kinds of plants I didn't have when I got here, and since some are multiples, it's probably more than 100 plants total. Some are just babies, and some were obtained by what some would consider "dubious means," but I don't ever take the whole plant, just offsets, seeds or starts, and I don't feel bad about rescuing plants from parking lots and around buildings that are going to die anyway.

Now if I can just keep the whiteflies and hornworms from killing everything, I'll be happy.