Do you want to expand your vegetable, herb or flower gardens but don’t have a lot of cash to spend? Over the years I’ve figured out quite a few ways to add plants to my gardens and landscaping around the property for free or cheap. Today I’m going to share with you my top seven ways to source more plants for our gardens without spending a lot of cash.
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Seven ways to find free or cheap garden plants:
1. Craigslist Free Ad. We check the free ads on Craigslist at least once a day and it has paid off. Things can go quick on Craigslist so the key is to respond fast if you see an ad for something you want. Over the years I’ve picked up a variety of herbs, perennial flowers and shrubs for free on Craigslist. Last spring we picked up six large Pea Shrubs someone dug out. We planted them on our front fence line along the road to create a privacy hedge. They cost over $20 for a small shrub at the greenhouse in town so this was a great score!
2. Freecycle. If you haven’t signed up for Freecycle in your area, you totally need to do it! It is an online venue organized by communities to give things away. Over the years I’ve picked up quite a few vegetable plants, herbs and perennial flowers from folks downsizing. It is also a great venue to giveaway plants when you’re thinning or downsizing and I’ve done my fair share of this over the years!
3. Barter/trade. If you know other gardeners in the area, barter and trade with each other for plants. You can swap plants, seeds, or even swap produce in exchange for some plants. Several times I’ve volunteered time weeding in exchange for plants.
4. Clearance table at the greenhouse. A few years ago I discovered a 75% off table at a greenhouse in town. Every time I’m in that area, I stop in to see what they have. Typically the plants in there are either struggling, done blooming, or have a broken branch or two. I look specifically for perennial herbs, flowers, and shrubs. This is the main way I’ve been able to grow my perennial herb and flower gardens over the years for very little cost. These plants typically need a little extra care, but if you have a green thumb this can pay off. Last summer I bought a large black currant shrub for $4! There are a couple branches in the big pot that don’t have leaves but the rest is healthy. We planted it in our perennial fruit beds in the garden to provide us another fruit source.
5. Wild harvest and transplant. My mom taught me how to do this as a kid. If we saw perennial wildflowers growing in the fields by the house that were going to get mowed down with the alfalfa, we would dig them out and put them in our flower beds. The key when doing this is to make sure you get as much of the root as possible and water, water, water. I always take a large shovel and try to dig up a big scoop of the soil with the root. Once you transplant it into your garden area, make sure you water it often in the first couple weeks.
6. Grow your own from seeds. Starting plants from seeds is more cost effective than buying the plants at the greenhouse. You can start your seeds indoors or you can start them in a greenhouse. I started out growing just vegetables and herbs from seeds. I found myself still buying flowers at the greenhouse and the cost was adding up. Last year I started a variety of annual and perennial flowers from seed in my greenhouse. I can still enjoy the beauty of the flowers but it cost me a small fraction of the price since I didn’t buy the plants at a greenhouse. You can save even more money if you start saving your own heirloom seeds to plant so you don’t have to buy seeds at the store anymore!
7. Craigslist sale ads. Occasionally people will list plants for sale on Craigslist. I’ve found that the prices are usually cheaper than the prices at the greenhouse. We bought more strawberry plants and raspberry canes for a good price from another farm that was thinning their plants and advertised on Craigslist.
Do you have any tips to share on how to find free or cheap garden plants?