Blooms on a Budget

Blooms on a Budget
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Blooms On A BudgetBy Margot Ziemer

One of my favorite things is to walk into a greenhouse in spring and see the rows and rows of beautiful blossoms, just begging to find a home in my garden. I fill trays with market packs, then get a sinking feeling as I approach the register. Those spring forays can easily cost more than my weekly grocery budget. Does that mean I have to resign myself to a barren garden with only dandelions for color? No! There are many ways to have a flower-filled garden that won't break the bank.

1. Start plants from seed. It's easier to buy market packs of flowers each spring, that's for sure. But it is infinitely more satisfying to start the plants yourself from seed, nurture them and then be rewarded by flats of flowers that will transform your garden for pennies a plant. The average market pack of four plants is approximately $2.19 in my area. A pack of 20-36 seeds is about $1.49. If you save seeds or trade seeds, the cost is far less. It's not to late to start! Zinnias are particularly fast growing, drought resistant and will bloom for months. Last June I planted wildflowers that also grew very quickly and surprised me by reappearing this spring.

2. Start plants from cuttings. Some plants are very easy to propagate from cuttings I've had good luck with forsythia, geraniums, ivy, begonias and even petunias. Simply place the cuttings in a cup or jar of room temperature water and keep them in a warm location with lots of light. Replace the water every few days. In one or two weeks, you'll see the roots beginning. Some cuttings do better if they are started in a rooting powder or solution.

3. Use last year's seeds. I recently bought packs of last year's seeds for 10 cents a pack. I also used seeds that were left over from last summer. I had fairly good success with both. It's true that the success rate is far lower than fresh seeds, but at 10 cents a pack, the 50% success rate I had seems pretty good.

4. Trade. I have a profusion of peonies. My friend, Jennifer, has a bounty of bee balm. I was delighted when Jennifer asked to trade some bee balm for a clump of my peonies. Another friend cares for an elderly neighbor's flower beds in exchange for an occasional cutting, clump of day lilies, and glass of homemade lemonade.

5. Perennials. If you do decide to purchase plants, go for perennials. Perennials are initially more expensive than annuals, but they will fill your garden with little effort on your part for years to come.

6. Wait for the sales. Annuals that were $2.19 per pack in April, May and early June will be marked down considerably by the 4th of July. Yes, it's true that you've missed a month or so of growing time, but you still have three or four months of enjoyment ahead of you.


About the author:

Margot Ziemer is author of four cookbooks, including "The Carefree Cook's Lighter Side of the Southwest." She is also founder of Coyote Moon, a spicy gourmet foods e-business specializing in hot sauces, snacks and barbeque sauces. Be sure to visit Margot at Coyote Moon.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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