Getting Plants Cheap – Words Of Wisdom From A Haphazard Gardener

By Amy Grant | November 10, 2020
by Amy Grant
November 10, 2020

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

I don’t have any garden wisdom to impart or at least none that I can discern. I’m a bit of a haphazard gardener, even lazy. Yes, there is a plan, but the plan probably only makes sense in my world. That said, I’m also a neat freak in the home and in the garden. It doesn’t seem that these two rather divergent qualities would transition well, but they actually do. Take my perennial garden, for instance.

I wanted an area with a cottage garden vibe but on a smaller scale, so we put a low fence on one side of the yard and prepared our soil. Then it was time to plant. Like all gardeners, I had to restrain myself at the nursery, not only because I had a size restriction but also because I’m cheap. Okay, cheap may be a bit harsh. I’m frugal and, as such, getting plants cheap is my thing.

Cheapskate Words of Wisdom

I’m on a budget, always. So, while I may not have much in the sense of hardcore garden wisdom to share, what I do have are some frugal gardening tips on finding plants inexpensively.

  • Get free plants from friends. First off, if you have friends that have gardens, ask them for volunteers, seeds, cuttings or divided clumps. However you can get a free plant, go for it (just don’t steal).
  • Look for plant sales or swaps. Next, do a little research and find out if your local park department, conservation district, or conservatory, for example, has a plant sale or even if they give out free plants at any time of the year. Also, check out garden or horticultural clubs and online plant swapping forums. Sometimes, public gardens offer extra plants for sale too.
  • Discounted plant rescues can be found treasures. Most big box home improvement stores and many small ones that stock plants have an area of discounted plants that are often a bit worse for wear. If you have it in you to rescue a sad plant and nurse it back to health, you will be rewarded with a fatter wallet. These places also sell compost, mulch, gravel and other garden amendments cheaper when the bags have been torn.
  • Go to the library. Yes, it’s a good idea to read a book, but many libraries also have a seed library. A seed library is usually a set of drawers in alphabetical order that contain labeled seed packets. For instance, I started the most stunning hollyhocks from seeds I got for free at our local library.
  • Bargain hunt for plants on weekends. On weekends when bargain hunters are flocking to garage sales, keep your eyes peeled for plant sales. Some folks actually propagate plants themselves to sell, and you can get some great deals.
  • Find plants online. Online forums, such as Nextdoor or Craigslist, often have free plants, or low cost. Just be careful anytime you deal with people online and always meet in public areas.
  • Don’t overlook dollar store deals. If you have the patience but not a big budget, most places have a dollar store of one sort or another and many times they carry seeds. In fact, often they have soilless seed mix, pots and other garden related doodads.
  • Gift cards. And, finally, ask for gift cards for your birthday or other holiday for either an online nursery or brick and mortar nursery. It’s never hard to find a gift for a plant lover.
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