You’re walking through a store in early spring and spot a beautiful garden plant across the aisle. A smile instantly comes across your face. There is a spring in your step as you dart over there and admire the bright blooms and interesting leaves. Then you pick up the price tag and your smile disappears. Why are flowers so expensive?
The good news is, they don’t have to be expensive. You may have to pay full price for rare plants or specific varieties that you just absolutely have to have, but you can also fill your flowerbeds with cheap garden plants or completely free plants if you follow these ten gardening tips. I am not including “grow from seed,” since everyone knows that by now, and some are simply unable or unwilling to grow from seed.
1. Shop a year ahead.
At the end of a season, stores can easily put the leftover clothing in the back for next year, but they cannot do that with live plants. They have to cut prices before the plants die.
2. Find the perennial morgue in your local garden centers.
Many garden centers, particularly those in stores like Lowes, will have a special section where they put plants that are no longer healthy enough to sell at full price. These are the plants that have been sitting out in the sun without enough water, or which have simply been in their small pots longer than they can stand. Some will be too gone to save, but many can be turned into beautiful perennial plants with a bit of TLC.
These cheap garden plants are often marked down to a dime or a quarter a piece or may come in flats for a dollar or less. Larger or more expensive plants may be marked down to a dollar or a couple dollars.
3. Work with seedlings and younger plants.
The younger the plant, the less you will pay for it. They will take longer to reach full size, but you can purchase more plants for your budget.
4. Find roadside flower sales, farmer’s markets and local gardening trades or shows.
You may or may not find cheap garden plants at these events. Sometimes the prices can be far too high to be considered a bargain, but sometimes you can get lucky. You may also find rare plants at reasonable prices if they have been grown by local gardeners. There will also be some unusual varieties that you have not seen before. It is fun just to walk through and see what you can find.
5. Shop online flower garden centers.
Many websites selling flowers are connected to real garden centers located around the country. Many people shop these sites because they can get varieties not commonly sold in their local areas, or the prices may be better than their local centers. The problem is the plants are not all that cheap, and you have to pay shipping in most cases.
Yet, you can still get cheap garden plants by shopping for flowers online. This is how I have done it over the years:
Sign up to receive a paper catalog from sites that have plants you would like to purchase. They will typically arrive at your doorstep with coupons attached.
Sign up for email newsletters or updates. You will receive coupon codes that may give free shipping or discounts on plants. The half off deals are very common here as well.
Search for the name of the store and “coupon code.” You can often find the same deals presented in newsletters and catalogs on coupon code websites. Those rare completely free deals will not be offered online, so you will still benefit from requesting a paper catalog.
6. Look for cheap garden plants on eBay.
I am throwing this out here because you can get cheap garden plants on eBay, but you have to be careful. Make sure you are shopping for plants that are not susceptible to disease or that you know the signs of disease so you can check before putting your cheap garden plants into your garden.
7. Shop for collections online.
Many websites will give discounted prices for collections or groups of similar plants. This is a great way to get cheap garden plants in varieties that typically do not go on sale.
Many sites also sell complete garden plans with all of the plants needed to recreate the design sold together. You can get substantial discounts when you purchase in this manner. You don’t have to follow the plan when the cheap garden plants arrive at your doorstep.
Tips to Find Free plants
8. Find your local Cheapcycle or Freecycle group.
You can now find these groups through Facebook. There are a variety of junk and yard sale type groups for regional areas on Facebook as well, such as One Man’s Junk. Sign up to as many of these groups as you can because people will often offer free plants when they thin out plants in their garden. If you can go pick them up, or sometimes dig them up, they are completely free plants.
9. When you receive flowers in pots as a gift, put them out in the garden.
Many potted plants will grow beautifully. They may not grow this season, especially in the case of forced bulbs. If they don’t come back next year, you lose nothing. If they do come back, you turn a free gift into a beautiful free garden plant.
10. Make a post on Facebook that you are willing to exchange garden plants with others.
You never know if you have others in your social circle interested in free or cheap garden plants. If you make just one connection, you can fill your garden with free plants, and it will just cost you a cutting from your own plants or perhaps some seedlings or thinned plants.
Can you think of other ways to find free or cheap flowers? What about vegetable plants for the garden?