Passalong Plants: My Post for the Garden Bloggers Book Club

Night Blooming Cereus, One of My Passalong Plants

When ever I go away on a vacation, I like to go to whatever bookstores are nearby to see if they have different books from what we have “back home”. One year I went to Mantoe Booksellers in Manteo, North Carolina, where I found and purchased my copy of Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing, the current selection of the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club.

I was not too concerned that this book was written by “southern” gardeners because in looking through the book, I quickly recognized many plants that I both had or could have in my own zone 5 central Indiana garden.

Like many gardeners, I have a garden enriched with many passalong plants, some from family and some from friends, all reminders of how generous gardeners are to each other. As Bender and Felder write in the introduction “Luckily, to a gardener, all other gardeners are friends”. And I’ll add to that, all other gardeners are a source of new plants!

When I had my first garden, I turned to my aunt for starts of Michaelmas daisies, Lily of the Valley, mums, spiderwort, old-fashioned roses, hostas, daylilies and more. I filled my new little garden with those passalong plants from her garden. Then when I moved, I passed my plants along to several other friends and family members so I could circle back around and get new divisions of these same plants from them for my next garden. And this was repeated once again to bring my passalong plants to my current garden.

Now whenever I go to one of my sisters’ houses in the spring or summer, inevitably we end up on a slow walk around the yard, looking at our commonly shared passalong plants and noting new plants we can share. Then magically, someone produces a trowel and some plastic bags and we are digging and dividing and sharing again.

I can’t imagine a garden without passalong plants, constant reminders of the generosity of other gardeners.

But my favorite of all my passalong plants doesn’t grow out in my garden, it stays inside. If you’ve visited my blog before you may have read about it before, My night-blooming cereus, the night bloomer, the queen of the night, Epiphyllium oxypetalum.

Every passalong plant has a story to tell or a memory of someone associated with it, a history about it that makes it special. Here’s the history of the night-bloomer.

My main plant was my Dad’s and it happily occupies a corner of the sunroom. He got his start from a family friend who came from Czechoslovakia, though I doubt she brought hers from there. This night bloomer has only bloomed three or four times for me, but each time it has bloomed, it has been an eagerly anticipted event. I have a second, smaller night-bloomer that was a start my Dad gave to my aunt probably 30 years ago, which she asked me to take last spring. I was happy to take it. While transporting it, a branch broke off, and from that I started six more night-bloomers. My older sister took one start, but she says she doesn’t plan to let hers get as large as mine. We’ll see. Now I have five remaining starts to pass along to others and I hope to find some willing takers before the end of the summer.

What’s your favorite passalong plant? Even if you didn’t read the book, Passalong Plants, for the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club, you can still join in the club “virtual meeting” by posting about your own passalong plants before May 31. Then leave me a comment or send me an email to let me know about it, and I’ll include it in the “virtual meeting post” on May 31st.


  1. I like the idea of "passalong plants"...I felt so bad when moved from Ky to Ohio in the dead of winter...I had been saving a Mandavilla vine and a Hibiscus both given to us for our 25th wedding anniversary...I gifted them to a family member with a green thumb and I know she takes care of them...but I still want those same plants...maybe I will check with her next visit and see if I can get a part of those once again now that I have a nice house and yard instead of apartment living...

  2. My night-blooming cereus is a passalong too! It's just a small piece that broke off of a larger plant that I rooted so it will be a long time before it blooms. My post for GBBC is now up also.

  3. My first passalong plant I got from my mom. It is Sedum "Autum Joy" She snapped a few stems off and give them to me and said stick them in the soil.

    Passanlongs are free but gardeners get joy from sharing plants with other gardeners.

  4. My current pass along is what I call, a Passion Iris, a creeping iris, or an apostle plant..... never have gotten the "correct" name, as I received it as a pass along, too.
    Here's an iMovie I made about it:
    Try and get yourself never fails to cheer on a grim March morning.
    NBC - 2nd favorite. Movies also available at the same web site.
    Of course, the hostas, Jacob's ladder, bleeding hearts, too.

  5. Salvias. Since I've lived in the south, I have so many different varieties growing-like crazy everywhere (the fall bloomers are my favorite), and I just pull them up (with some roots) and put them in a glass jar and give them to any willing takers. It's a great book - especially for people just getting their feet wet.

  6. Your Night blooming cereus sure has an interesting history to go along with its exotic look, Carol.

    I find it interesting how some of the plants we first received, were then passed around and returned to us after a move. The more we gave away, the more we could get back!


  7. Such a beautiful flower. How do you manage to keep such a large plant indoors? The night blooming cereus I've seen were planted outdoors and were huge plants.

  8. Carol, I plan to do a Passalong post...really! Enjoyed yours very much! I hopped over here to tell you that I have a nomination for another time...Married to my Garden by Barbara Blossom Ashmun...and I just wrote about it!

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  10. Hi Carol! Isn't it funny how a mishap can turn into a wonderful thing? The cereus branch broke, but you turned it into 6 passlongs for your fellow gardeners.

    My favorite passalong would have to be the zinnia, and I wrote about it in my Book Club post:

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hi Carol! That's a beauty of a bloom - we have some collection night blooming cereus' too - apparently at one point Marjorie Lyons (one of Blithewold's founding daughters) charged townspeople 5 cents to check it out - and gave the proceeds to the Red Cross!
    I can't email you - our server and comcast are some kind of incompatible but I wanted to let you know I'd like to join the Garden Bloggers' Book Club with today's post on
    Thank you!!

  12. What a great story about the night-blooming cereus! I just posted my contribution - thanks again for hosting the club.

  13. Ginger lilies! I got mine from my dad and have passed them on to 3-4 people while I have had them. And their smell is heavenly.

  14. We have several "Passalong plants" here in our rooftop. They are growing nicely, thank goodness :) we have an Amazon Lily (Eucharis), a small gardenia tree, 2 seedlings of trees(they are locally called "Balete" but I think it's a kind of ficus. We are dwarfing it for bonsai.)and just like you, we have several passalong Night Blooming Cereus! The blooms are worth the wait. They are simply awesome!


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