Mix up your garden: Swap plants next month at a Monmouth County park
MIDDLETOWN — There are cookie swaps and baseball card swaps. But what about a plant swap?
The Monmouth County Parks System and Deep Cut Gardens will host its "Great Spring Perennial Plant Swap," Saturday, May 7 at 8:30 a.m. at Tatum Park in Middletown.
Deep Cut Gardens horticulturalist Kate Lepis said the idea of the swap is for people to dig up perennials in their gardens that may have gotten too big for that spot. Divide the plant up, pot those pieces up, then swap them out with others to add a little more zing to your garden this spring. The swap will accept plants in one-quart, one-gallon, or two-gallon containers, which should be properly labeled.
Lepis said it's an even swap, meaning, however many plants a person may bring to the swap, that's how many they can take but of the same size. So, for example, if someone were to bring 5-one quart pots to the swap, they can take five 1-quart pots back home with them.
Make sure plants are well-established in the pots. No small sprigs in a pot full of soil will be accepted, she said. They want to make sure people go home with full, luscious plants.
Popular plants that are swapped include ferns, irises, and small shrubs.
No invasive plants will be accepted. Go to the Deep Cut Gardens webpage at www.monmouthcountyparks.com to find a list of the aggressively-invasive plant species that will not be accepted at the swap. Such invasive plants include vinca vines and Japanese Honeysuckle.
While the purpose of the swap is for pure fun and pleasure, there is a focus on avoiding invasive plant species because the U.S. alone spends $120 billion a year to manage these plants, according to Lepis.
"If you walk around any of our parks, they're everywhere. They are really degrading the environmental health of our wild spaces. Since we are a botanical institution, it's part of our responsibility to make sure that when we do these plant swaps, we're not promoting the next exotic invasive," said Lepis.
To that end, there's no reason why people shouldn't get together to swap out nice perennials such as peonies, she said. Cutting up a peony and re-planting pieces in different size pots would be a welcome addition to anyone's garden.
Lepis also said that swappers should avoid bringing 10 to 15 pots of the same type of plant. "That's in our effort to maintain higher quality. If you have 15 of the same thing, it's probably because it's aggressively spreading in your yard, or that you just divided it into pieces that are so small, it's not really the quality that we're looking for," she said.
Houseplants are also accepted as well as herbs and vegetable seedlings. Again, Lepis said if someone brings a six-pack of seedlings, they can take a six-pack of seedlings with them.
The plant swap has been a popular event in years past. Lepis said last spring 103 gallon-sized plant pots were swapped out.
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