Free Plants And Ways To Save Money On Gardening

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Keep Gardening Frugal By Sourcing Free Plants In Your Community

Are there easy ways to save money on gardening?

Yes, there is and I’m going to share with you my secrets for scoring free plants so you don’t have to pay for them. 

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.

Giving Away Free Plants

Why would people give away free plants?

Unless someone grew 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 if you compare them to the ready-made plants at the nursery or garden centres.

Donate Free Plants

If you take a 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 other out there when I say I have a very hard time just throwing away a plant.

Why not let someone else give it a new home especially if it saves them some money in their gardening budget to take it off your hands.


Simple Tips For Dividing Plants

  1. Divide your plants in the spring to avoid hot weather.
  2. Use a sharp tool to make the cut, some recommend using a saw but I use a shovel and it works just fine.
  3. Take a look at how the plant is growing, make the cut where all parts will have a good number of solid roots.
  4.  If not replanting right away place in a pot with some soil and give it some water. If there is a good amount of soil with the clump a plastic bag around the roots will work too.
  5.  Replant sooner than later

Perennial Gardening

What Is A Perennial?

A perennial refers to a plant that will grow for at least 2 consecutive years. It dies back 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 and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Some people enjoy a nice full garden and don’t mind it 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 literally be cut into multiple pieces and planted elsewhere.  

Some just do not survive being uprooted and/or fall apart.

The plants could be added to the compost, donated or discarded and wasted.

Free Plants In Your City

Landscaping side of house

Where Can I Find Free Plants?

The internet sure makes things easy these days 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 just 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 pretty quick, as long as the plants survive.

Just 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 they won’t cost you as much as if you had to go to a garden nursery to buy them.

A family in our town has been doing it as long as I can remember, these days more and more people are selling their divided plants from their driveway.

You may get a hosta for $2 or however little the person chooses to charge, as compared to paying $7.99 or more for one from at a garden centre.

Get Free Plants From Friends, Family, 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 that you have that you need to divide.  

Sharing plants between family and friends can also add some sentimental value to your garden.

I am excited and awaiting some Iris’ that a family member is sharing with me.

These were originally grown on my great-grandpas lane-way.

She received them from great-grandpa and she’s passing some onto me now.

They will always be referred to as great-grandpa’s Iris.

Neighbourhood Free Plants Swap

Recently, Mr. CBB recently picked up a massive elephant’s ear hosta from his neighbour down the road.

The base rootstock is about 2 feet long by 1 foot across, it’s huge.

It’s the size of buying at least 3 x $40 plants at the nursery.

He says he has some crackin’ neighbours which I presume 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 in digging out the free plants they are offering to 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 you want to try and give it a second lease on life don’t be shy to ask for a discount if it’s not already discounted.

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 mostly divided in the mid to late spring before the hot weather hits.

Transplanting is stressful for the plant and the heat would add more stress to that.

Doing this in the spring gives the plants a chance to get established in their new home before the hot months.  

May is a good 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.

Personally, 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 in the fall that you rake from your property.

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 as opposed to dyed, so this works just fine for me.

Take a good 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,  or helping out a friend or neighbour, and using local resources are easy ways to save you some hard-earned money.

Discussion: Where have you been able to find some free plants and do you have any other suggestions for the readers?

Leave me your comments below.


katrina cbbPost Contribution By: 

Katrina is a regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening.

Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years of experience with landscaping and greenhouse production.

Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others.

While being a single mom of two and an in-store marketing representative for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.

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  1. I never even thought about getting plants from garage sales or kijiji! I’ll have to keep that in mind for next year, when I attempt a garden in my backyard. 🙂

  2. K – from America here – just wondering if you guys have any ideas on how to contain wild strawberries? The damn things are taking over my garden and I have yet to find a way to get rid of them. Make no mistake – these are NOT edible strawberries, they’re weeds that spread everywhere and will kill any other plant you put in their path. I don’t want to use any herbicides or other chemicals. Thanks.

    1. Hi Jim! Unfortunately getting rid of wild strawberries without repeated applications of herbicides is very time consuming . Removing them mechanically (by hand) is really your only other option making sure to dig out all the roots. Strawberries not only spread by seed but also by runners which makes them difficult to control. Digging them out is the only thing you can do with out using chemicals. I ran into this issue myself just this last week while working on a property and those suckers pop up everywhere. I wish I had better news for you! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  3. Just moved to the new home and neighborhood so the free plants tips will be used soon, very soon. Thanks for those tips I had no idea i could get them free. I see many people spending hundreds on plants for the lawn.

  4. All kinds of great stuff here, Katrina. We’ve got a yard full of perennials, and I just love them for the lack of maintenance and money we spend on them. The yard looks lovely, and we hardly have to do a thing to it!

  5. You’re welcome hope it helps Adam! Any ideas or questions with your new garden feel free to stop in and ask 🙂

  6. I know we’ll be looking for some new shrubs come this fall. I’m also looking for people who want to divide up some hosta’s. When it comes shrubs I prefer small stuff like boxwood’s and smaller spruce plants. They are just a lot easier to manage.

    1. Hey Chris! A lot people do wait until the fall to divide their hostas so keep your eye out then too!

    2. Chris,
      Stay away from the boxwoods – you’ll have bugs all over your yard AND in your house. Been there, done that.

  7. I just bought $50 worth of vegetable plants from our local grocery store. I thought it was a pretty good price but now that I read your post, I should have done more research! I know veggie plants aren’t perennials but still, I bet I could find free sources where I live. I’m not a big gardener but am trying to be since I prefer growing my own produce to purchasing it. I’d like to become less dependent on our food system and I don’t mind getting my hands dirty!

    1. you are right that vegetable plants are harder to come by free but it is possible. There are also seed swaps online where you can obtain vegetable seeds that people harvest from their own plants. Gardening is certainly trial and error but don’t give up! Growing your own veggies is rewarding and great for your budget. Good luck!

  8. My parents always thin theirs out every year and donate to a plant sale. Most folks are happy to give away clippings or extra plants.

    1. just driving around today I saw two driveway plant sales! There are lots of generous people out there you just have to look for them. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  9. Another super article Katrina!!!!!!! My day lilies should be divided but right now I have no where to replant the bits once divided, although my sister-in-law said she would take some. I know she is hoping for more of my red ones as I gave her one last time and she just loves the colour!!! I have Shasta daisy ‘Alaska’ planted in behind my light yellow day lilies and they bloom together….. Looks so nice!!!!! The pale yellow and the white flopping over….. My forget me nots are blooming now and I hope to get some seed off them, especially the white ones. I have a mystery plant in there this year… No idea what it is but if it’s the plant I think it is there will be yellow flowers with a seed head that looks like a dandelion on steroids. It was growing across the street by the pizza place and how I got this one is anyone’s guess….. Maybe a squirrel ……Blue Jay….. ??????? It looks neat….

    1. Thanks Christine. You should take a picture of this mystery plant and maybe I can help you figure out what it is!! I have one planting of shasta daisies and last year they grew into a large perfect ball covered in white…it was beautiful I’m hoping they look that nice again this year!

  10. I am so not a gardener… in fact it won’t survive in my yard unless it can do so without any attention at all. LOL Hence I have gardeners handle the basic minimum. I used to cry as a child when my hands got dirty and I really never grew out of that. Not everyone is meant to dig in the dirt. 😀 I do enjoy reading your articles though Katrina ’cause that’s a close as I am going to get to a garden.

    1. haha Thanks Mary! If it’s not your thing you’re chances of being successful are lower. As for getting your hands dirty….you would cringe seeing mine after a days work! But I love the dirt and don’t mind getting dirty at all. 🙂

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