Passalong Plants

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Crinum Lily 'Ellen Bosanquet'

Crinum lilies grow from large bulbs and are a favorite passalong plant throughout the south.

The tradition of sharing favorite plants with friends and family is as old as the practice of gardening itself. Plants that are tough, durable, and easy to propagate are often shared among friends and neighbors, or passed down from one generation to the next. Some plants are shared so commonly, they have come to be known as ‘passalong plants’. If you have a plant you wish to pass along to someone, fall is a great time to do so.

Divisions, Seeds, and Cuttings

Many plants can be propagated by division in fall, particularly perennials. A good rule of thumb to determine the best time to divide perennials is to do so in the season opposite of when they bloom. This means fall is a great time to divide and share many spring and summer blooming perennials. Some of the easiest perennials to divide are clump formers like garden phlox, hosta, daylilies, and cannas. To divide these plants, simply dig up the whole clump and then use a sharp spade or hatchet to cut the clump into smaller pieces. Make sure each piece has at least a few stems and leaves attached to the roots.

Perennial plants that grow from bulbs are a favorite type of passalong plant, since they are so easy to share. These include summer bloomers like rain lilies, crinums, and amaryllis as well as spring favorites such as daffodils, Spanish bluebells, and summer snowflake. All of these plants grow from clusters of bulbs that can be easily dug and separated into smaller clusters or even individual bulbs. When digging plants for division, do not allow the roots to dry out. Replant as soon as possible. Water new transplants thoroughly but wait until spring to fertilize.

Annual flowers are easier to share by seeds. To collect seeds, first allow the flowers to completely fade and the seed pods to ripen on the plant. If seed pods are still green, leave them on the plant until they turn brown, then collect and store them in a paper bag in a cool, dry location. Old fashion annuals are the easiest to collect seed from and include celosia, cleome, zinnias, sunflowers, and marigolds.

Other plants are best propagated by cuttings. This is particularly true for shrubs, most of which root best from cuttings taken in the summer. Plants that can be rooted from cuttings taken now include many houseplants and tropical plants commonly grown as summer annuals. These include sweet potato vines, coleus, alternanthera, begonias, impatiens, and Persian shield, all of which can be rooted in a cup of water and potted up once roots have formed. Overwinter these plants in a location that receives bright light and stays above 40 degrees.

Passalong Plant Sale

Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

Get answers to your gardening questions from Extension Master Gardeners during their fall plant sale.

Pender County Extension Master Gardeners will offer favorite and reliable plants from their gardens during their fall plant sale, held in conjunction with the Poplar Grove Farmers Market, Wednesday, September 19, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Poplar Grove Plantation, located on Hwy 17 south of Hampstead. All plants at the sale have been grown by Pender Master Gardeners, who will be more than happy to share plant lore and gardening advice with you.

Among the treasures they plan to bring are hardy perennials and bulbs like crinum lilies, rain lilies, angel’s trumpets and elephant ears; a variety of shrubs including gardenias and sweet shrub (also known as Carolina allspice and Sweet Betsy); and several types of houseplants including night blooming cereus and Cymbidium orchids. Come early for the best selection and to meet the Master Gardeners who grew each plant.

In addition to great plants, the sale will feature the new ‘Garden by the Month’ calendar, developed and written by Pender County Master Gardeners. Chopped full of garden advice for local conditions, the calendar features monthly tips and tasks that will keep your lawn, landscape, and food garden on schedule. The calendar is the second such collaborative fund raising project Pender Extension’s Master Gardeners have undertaken. Their first project, a cook book featuring their favorite recipes and gardening tips, will also be available to purchase. Proceeds from plant, calendar and cook book sales support Pender County Cooperative Extension’s horticultural outreach programs.

Learn More

Visit your local Cooperative Extension office to learn more about gardening and landscape care. Go to to find your county Extension center.