6 Places to Find Free (or Nearly Free) Plants

Shari Altman
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onion plant

Is your budget tight these days, but you still find yourself daydreaming about adding new plants to your garden? Well, don't despair. Here are six great places to look for free (or nearly free) plants.

1. Befriend a gardener.

Nine times out of ten gardeners are going to have extra plants that they are willing to part with. Why you ask? Because gardeners love plants and often buy or grow more plants than their yard can sustain. Also, many plants spread and gardeners tend to divide these plants to make room for new acquisitions.

See a plant you love? Don't be afraid to ask your gardener friends for a cutting (a small section of stem about 4 inches in length with a few leaves) that you can try and root in a glass of water on your windowsill. The cuttings will pretty up your windowsill until the plants can be potted or planted outside.

2. Check the local newspaper.

Local newspapers often have an agriculture section in the classifieds. I've found many plants such as daylilies and phlox free for the taking in this section. Just one word of caution. Often, folks are giving away plants that have spread too much in their own gardens. This could be a good thing, though, especially if you are just beginning and have plenty of space for plants. Do a bit of research and make sure you know what you're getting. When you go pick up your plants, talk to the gardener about ideal planting conditions and suggestions for keeping unruly plants under control.

3. Volunteer at a community garden.

When I was just starting out with gardening, I volunteered at a non-profit and worked in their herb garden one morning a week. It was amazing how many plants I ended up with, not to mention the knowledge I gained from interacting with the head gardeners.

4. Encourage sprouting vegetables and plant seeds from your pantry.

If I notice an onion already sprouting, I pop it root side down, of course, into water in a pretty glass vase or a cute coffee cup and let it grow on my windowsill simply for the fun of it. You can also put it in a pot. You won't be able to produce more onions, but you may succeed in getting the onion to flower.

What can I say? I like to grow things in jars on my windowsill. Try this with potatoes, too.

Do you have any dried beans in your pantry? In her book, Gardening Anywhere, Alys Fowler suggests planting chickpeas or other beans you might have in your pantry. The chickpea plant is really lovely and I hear you can truly harvest chickpeas if you keep the plant healthy. Think I'm going to try this soon and report back.

5. Visit church sales.

Church sales are a great place to find well-loved, healthy plants for a reasonable price. Usually, you can get great tips for plant care here as well. Don't forget to ask if the plant prefers sun or shade.

6. Rescue a plant from the discounted section of your local nursery.

With such great prices, what do you have to lose? My suggestion would be to pick out a plant that appeals to you in the discounted section and then ask the owner of the nursery for information and tips on bringing the plant back to life. If nothing else, it's a great learning experience. If you lose the plant, so be it. But if you succeed in reviving it, think of how you'll feel! You've got a 50/50 chance of scoring a bargain here.

Where do you go to find free or reduced price plants?


Image via Shari Altman

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