First, let me be clear: This isn't a list of plants you shouldn't own, just a list of plants for which there's no need to trade actual cash unless you're feeling picky. These are the usual suspects that spread, slowly or otherwise, in people's yards and many gardeners would be happy to find a good home for their excess.
These are frequent fliers at our annual Green Girls free plant swap coming up May 31 from 10 to noon in the park area across the street from the Star Tribune building at 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis. If any of these plants are on your wish list, chances are good that you can score plenty of them, even if you think you have nothing to swap in return. These plants you can always find for free:
1. Generic hosta. Either the solid green or the green/white variety show up in droves, because the plants do better if they're periodically divided. Most of them are what I call no-name hostas, because they came with someone's house and weren't planted, so no one ever knew their name. But if you've got a shady area, they're super reliable all-season greenery. And usually someone will show up with some big leaf blue hosta to trade, because even gorgeous, pedigreed hosta need dividing sometime.
2. Lily of the valley. These plants are givers that won't stop giving, and their owners won't stop giving them away. Unless you're heart is set on the pink variety, you're guaranteed to have your fill of lily of the valley.
3. Chives. When I see these plants for sale, I think "Really?! Please, take mine." And if you're smarter than me, you'll put them in pots or else be prepared to dig out the excess. Even garlic chives are likely to make an appearance at most plant swaps.
4. Orange daylilies. Borders upon borders' worth show up at every swap. They may not be as exciting as the many varieties available now for purchase, but if you've just got a side of a garage you don't want to have to think about, a row of these babies will take care of it.
5. Grandma's ferns. There are a lot of gorgeous varieties of ferns worth parting with money for, but if you're just in the market for a back of the shady border staple, nearly everyone who has them, has them in droves and will gladly share. (And if they're by a neighboring fence, we'll share them willy nilly.)
If you're one of the gardeners with these plants to unload, know that someone else always has a spot where they need one of these staples, and if you're one of the people in need, know that you'll find plenty to plant. So mark your calendars and start digging. And in case you didn't guess, you're bound to see some of the plants in these pictures here, along with some more unusual suspects from my garden.