Minnie Hatz headshotWhile the pastures are still brown, I look for cacti that I can transplant to my rock garden. While cacti grow wild here, it is only semi-arid, so pasture grass grows also, and somehow every few years there are cacti that appear in the grass. I usually take some small stakes that I can mark the location of the evergreen cacti among the winter dry grass. When it is warm enough to transplant, I return with a bucket, spade and heavy gloves. The cacti do not root deeply, but of course must be handled with care.

I try to locate the transplants in areas where I have rock and landscape cloth. Ever try to weed a cacti patch? I have a neighbor who likes to use native plants in her landscaping as well. She has transplanted various “weeds” that grow along the adjacent irrigation ditch to her flowerbeds.

 Transplanted barrel cacti 

Some things to keep in mind when looking for “wild” flowers to transplant; It is illegal to dig up plants and trees from public land. Likewise be sure private property owners agree to let you dig up plants. Most people don’t mind getting rid of cacti but it is good policy to ask. Transplant wild plants in the spring or fall. If you can’t get it done in the spring, don’t do it in the summer. Just like nursery stock, plants struggle greatly in the summer heat and dryness. Also many plants are in the midst of flowering or seeding and the resources that could go into growing new roots are not available. Study what you are transplanting. Is it a perennial or an annual? Is it attractive most of the year? Does it need any special care?

If you admire water lilies, for example, know what you are getting into.  They grow in water over a foot deep. You may need waders or even a small boat to get them. Once you have them you need to provide a similar habitat for them to grow. Water lilies present another challenge. While they are perennials, they need some special care for wintering over. This is a challenge for me, so I buy from the nursery every few years!

 Water Lilies 

nebraska dave
4/10/2012 11:11:56 PM

Minnie, free plants are always good. Right? In most cases they are. I like your idea of xeriscaping by using native plants. I've had two experiences with using native plants for flower beds. One was the wild strawberry. I thought somehow a neighbor's strawberry plant had made it to my yard. I transplanted it to a raised garden bed and was very proud of my free plant. By the end of the summer those plants had taken over the garden bed and decided to expand into the yard. My next find was a wild African violet. I did the same thing. I transplanted a few violets from the yard into a flower bed. They also escaped back into the lawn. I guess there's a reason why those plants do so well out in the wild. I am not trying to discourage anyone from finding wild plants to grow in there flower beds but just a word of caution about being sure you know what you are bringing into your landscape. Have a great wild plant day.





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