Now that you have a rough outline of plant sizes, colors, and shapes, and you know which plants will grow in your area, it’s time to start choosing your plants. Now’s the fun part; choosing the actual plants. To get inspiration for the plants you would like, you can just look in magazines, gardening books or even around your neighborhood. What I find the easiest is to take the time to look around where you live to get an idea for what grows well and how the plants will look when fully grown. Sometimes you may see a plant that looks great in the nursery but when it’s fully grown it gets all stringy and ugly.
If you see something you like take a picture so you can easily identify the plants when you go buy them. If you don’t find the plants you’re looking for go to different types of nurseries. Sometimes the big chains won’t have a significant variety of plants in stock. You may find that the small family owned nursery may offer a larger selection of interesting plants and they provide a great wealth of knowledge and experience in caring for those plants.
When you’re ready to purchase your plants you have several options; you can grow your plants from seeds, buy young plants, or buy mature plants. Planting from seeds is definitely the most economical method, but it takes a much longer time to see your result. Let’s face it, who wants to wait a year or so to be able to enjoy their garden? I’m not that patient. Buying mature plants at their final size can be tempting, but the purchase is much more expensive and you don’t get the satisfaction of watching your small garden develop and mature.
Savings-tip: I personally use a combination of the first two. I buy the majority of my plants, the main body of the garden if you will, in the smallest size container available. Then I buy some of my vegetables as seeds. That way I can grow my organic vegetables for far less than the cost of buying a mature plant .
Another cost saving trick I use is to buy about half the amount of the younger plants (or even the mature plants). I split them up into two or three new plants just before I plant them. And voila you have 3x the plants for the same price. Of course, keep in mind that these larger, mature plants will now become smaller plants and will thus take longer to grow back to mature fullness. Beware – this doesn’t work for all plants. You have to make sure you get enough root system in each section or it will die.
Another way to save on plants is to utilize cuttings. Although cuttings are relatively easy to use, there are basic rules to follow…and not all plants can be “cut”. Regardless, when you do this you can feel proud of yourself and say, “I actually grew that plant from a twig with a couple of leaves on it”.
Here are a couple of online resources that offer a good selection of organic seeds (just visit their organic seed sections):
Eco tips: Don’t discard the containers the plants came in. You can use them later when growing plants from seed, splitting plants or growing plants from cuttings. Like you’ll always have an endless supply of containers. I just stack them up and reuse them over and over untill they break, then I recycle them.