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Want a crop of silver dollars next year?

Want a crop of silver dollars next year? Money doesn't grow on trees. It grows on biennials--specifically on one called money plant (Lunaria annua), which, in spite of its species name, doesn't blossom every year. If you sow seeds now, you'll get a low rosette of leaves this season and an abundant crop of flowers and silvery seed pods next year. To get flowers and pods every year, simply sow a second batch of seeds the following season.

If you're a new gardener, or if you haven't grown biennials before, this is a particularly good plant to start with. It's vigorous enough to be almost foolproof and will self-sow and keep coming back for as long as you want it. If you give it poor soil and low water, mature plants will likely grow to only about 18 inches. With better conditions, they can reach 3 feet.

Buy seed from catalogs or well-stocked racks. You can sometimes find potted money plants in nurseries. When you buy, askwhether the plants are a year old or just a few months. Year-old plants will flower and set seed this year. Rosettes from seed sown in greenhouses this past winter will usually wait a year to flower, but the odd plant will bloom and set seed this coming fall. In the garden, you may also see an occasional money plant go through its entire life cycle in a year.

Because money plant is low and leafy one year and high and blooming the next, this is a good cottage garden plant. Place money plant where first-year rosettes are unobtrusive but where second-year flowers and seeds can stand out.

Beyond the white-, purple-, and lavender-flowered versions of money plant that are now available, growers are also working on a form with variegated leaves. Look for it in two to three years.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Mar 1, 1991
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