Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Are there easy ways to save money on gardening?
Yes, and I will share my secrets for scoring free plants so you don’t have to pay for them.
Keep Gardening Frugal By Sourcing Free Plants
While I am not saying to stay away from garden centres as they offer a large selection of plants, there are easier ways to save money.
It is possible to get free plants or buy them at a fraction of the cost, but you have to get creative and get your hands dirty.
The payoff will always be worth it since the cost of plants can get pricey.
Knowing where to look for free plants is the key to getting what you need.
Giving Away Free Plants
Why would people give away free plants?
Unless someone grows annuals from seed and has more than they need, you are more likely to find a great deal on perennials.
Growing from seed is a far more cost-effective way to save money in the garden, but not everyone has a green thumb.
I love growing plants, and seeds are fairly inexpensive compared to the ready-made plants at the nursery or garden centres.
Donate Free Plants
If you look around your neighbourhood I bet you will see many plants that come up yearly and seem to sprout in different spots and multiply.
If you are an avid gardener and want to thin out your plants, you have some work to do, but you also can donate your plants to those who are willing to take them and are in need.
I speak for myself and many others out there when I say I have a hard time just throwing away a plant.
Why not let someone else give it a new home, mainly if it saves them some money in their gardening budget to take it off your hands?
6 Simple Tips For Dividing Plants
- Divide your plants in the spring to avoid hot weather.
- Use a sharp tool to cut, some recommend using a saw, but I use a shovel, which works fine.
- Look at the plant’s growth, and make the cut where all parts have many solid roots.
- If not replanting immediately, place it in a pot with some soil and give it water.
- If there is a good amount of soil with the clump, a plastic bag around the roots will work too.
- Replant sooner than later
What Is A Perennial?
A perennial refers to a plant growing for at least two consecutive years.
It dies in the fall and regrows on the same roots the following spring.
As the roots continue to grow from year to year your plants get bigger and bigger, your garden eventually will begin to look overgrown.
An annual plant is just the opposite and only lasts the season; once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Some people enjoy a lovely full garden and don’t mind it being overgrown.
While many do practice the technique of splitting or dividing plants to thin the garden out, it takes time and effort to make your landscaping look like it’s from the cover of a magazine.
The majority of perennials can be cut into multiple pieces and planted elsewhere.
Some just do not survive being uprooted and/or falling apart.
The plants could be added to the compost, donated, or discarded and wasted.
Free Plants In Your City
Where Can I Find Free Plants?
The internet makes things easy when you are looking for free plants or trying to give them away.
Ads can often be found on Kijiji and Free-cycle for people offering free plants; you go pick them up!
Check for ads often, though, some plants shouldn’t be out of the garden too long, so the posts can disappear quickly as long as the plants survive.
This past weekend while working with a CBB fan on her property, we posted on Free-cycle free Echinacea and Daylily plants that we divided and had 4 replies within minutes.
She was also generous to me, and I came home with some Shasta daisies and Forget-me-Nots to add to my garden.
Free Plants At Garage Sales
I am seeing a lot more plant sales at garage sales these days, just like Mr. CBB found a money tree for a mere $0.50 last week, a steal of a deal if you ask me.
They may not be free plants but won’t cost as much as if you had to go to a garden nursery to buy them.
A family in our town has been doing it for as long as I can remember.
More and more people are selling their divided plants from their driveways.
You may get a hosta for $2, or however little the person charges, compared to paying $7.99 or more for one from a garden centre.
Get Free Plants From Friends, Family, and Neighbours
If you know someone who will be dividing plants, say your mother, best friend, or the family next door, you could offer to help with the work in exchange for a few plants.
Or even possibly trade for plants you have that you need to divide.
Sharing plants with family and friends can also add sentimental value to your garden.
I am excited and awaiting some Iris that a family member shares.
These were initially grown on my great-grandpa’s lane-way.
She received them from great-grandpa, and she’s passing some on to me now.
They will always be referred to as great-grandpa’s Iris.
Neighbourhood Free Plants Swap
Mr. CBB recently picked up a massive elephant’s ear hosta from his neighbour.
The base rootstock is about 2 feet long by 1 foot across and enormous.
It’s the size of buying at least 3 x $40 plants at the nursery.
He says he has some crackin’ neighbours, which translates to pretty awesome.
Since he is landscaping his entire property, the elephant’s ear hosta will be used as an architectural piece on his property.
This plant can grow up to 6 feet in height and has huge leaves, and is simply a beautiful plant that enjoys the shade.
It’s always nice to offer something to your neighbour, even if it is a hand digging out the free plants they offer you.
Reduced Section For Cheap Or Free Plants
If you are prepared to take the risk, you may get lucky and score a great deal on a reduced plant that needs a lot of love and attention.
Not all plants at a nursery or garden centre get 100% attention and get missed and generally start to deteriorate.
The nursery or garden may reduce the cost of the plant to recoup some of the loss in hopes will buy it.
If you see a plant that looks like it’s on its last legs and want to give it a second lease on life, don’t hesitate to ask for a discount.
One advantage of buying your plants is that most nurseries and garden centres offer a one-year guarantee on perennials.
If it dies, you get a new plant or your money back, so hang on to your receipts.
This would not likely apply to reduced plants as you know you are taking a risk when buying it.
Start Looking For Free Plants and Garden Seeds
The best time to look for free plants is in the Spring!!
Perennials are mainly divided mid to late spring before the hot weather hits.
Transplanting is stressful for the plant, and the heat adds more stress.
Doing this in the spring allows the plants to get established in their new home before the hot months.
May is an excellent month to keep an eye out online and while shopping the garage sales, especially for the May 2-4 long weekend when most garage and yard sales begin.
Swap For Free Vegetable and Flower Seeds
Another great way to score free plants is by swapping garden seeds.
Perhaps you save your garden seeds to use the next year and have a surplus or extra packets of flowers and vegetables.
This would be a great time to see if there is a local garden seed swap to allow optimal variety in your garden.
I’d start a seed swap as early as January or February, which gives you time to start your seedlings.
Mulch and Compost For Your Garden
A garden requires more than just plants…
Contact your local waste facility to see if they offer free mulch and/or compost.
Alternatively, you can make your own compost for free using leaves you rake from your property in the fall.
Our local dump has piles where you bring your own containers, trailer, truck, or bags and load your own at no cost.
It’s a free opportunity for them to dispose of debris collected around town.
I prefer the natural look of mulch instead of dyed, so this works just fine for me.
Look at what plants you already have to see if you can divide some and use them to fill in an empty spot or plant in a new garden.
If you need or would like more plants, taking a quick look online, helping out a friend or neighbour, and using local resources are easy ways to save some hard-earned money.
Discussion: Where have you found some free plants, and do you have any other suggestions for the readers?
Please leave me your comments below.
Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years of experience with landscaping and greenhouse production.
- Protect Your Investment: Planting Tips For Your Garden
- Garden Growing Guide: How To Prepare Your Garden
- Growing A Garden In A Small Space
- Fall Gardening, Go Grow Something And Save
- Sow, Grow and Save
- Blossoms, Blooms, and Flowers
- Celebrate The Moments In Your Backyard