Free Plants And Ways To Save Money On Gardening

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. 

free plants
How To Score Free Plants For Your Garden.

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

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

Perennial Gardening

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

Landscaping side of house

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.

Mr.CBB

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

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20 Comments

  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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