Growing your own food shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Yet we spend billions (with a lot of zeros) on lawn care and gardens each year. Kind of seems counterproductive if we are spending more money growing our vegetables than it costs to buy them from the store. Time to tap into your frugal gardener with these tips on where to get cheap or free garden plants and seeds.
12 Places to Get Cheap or Free Garden Plants & Seeds
I’m sharing all my best tips on how to get cheap or free garden plants and seeds, but what if you can’t grow a garden?
In this article, How To Get FREE Food That’s Healthy! By Gleaning The Fields, I reveal the secret to getting FREE organic and fresh produce, check it out!
#1 Craigslist Free Ads
Craigslist has become the #1 Free advertising website for all things classified. Whether you’re looking to find some eggs or wanting to buy a tractor, Craigslist is the place to look. You can often find free plants, seeds, and even trees on Craigslist. As a matter of fact, as I am writing this, I just responded to a Craigslist ad offering FREE Osage Orange Trees, SCORE!!
The key to obtaining free items is to check the website often. Free stuff goes quick and the first to act is the first to receive.
Seeds are the single most affordable way to buy inexpensive plants for your home. For less than the price of one plant, you can get up to 100 seeds or more. To get a deal on seeds, shop at the end of season sales.
#3 Seed Exchange or Seed Library
Many libraries offer a seed exchange and even our local produce store has one. Search the web to find one in your area or call your local library.
To learn more about seed libraries check out PIMA County Library
#4 Discount Seeds
Seeds have a sell or use by date on its packaging. Many stores will discard or drastically reduce the price of seeds at the end of the season. To get a deal on seeds, shop at the end of season sales, last year I bought seed packets for $00.03 each! Seeds can be viable for years past their use-by date, just plant more of them or perform a germination test. Learn more about how to test for seed viability here.
# 5 Seeds From Your Food
If you buy organic or locally grown produce, you can save the seeds from the food you eat and grow your own plants from the seeds you save. I have a permanent shelf over my sink where you will always find seeds drying that I harvested from dinner ingredients.
To learn more about how to save seeds from your food click here
#6 Regrow Garden Plants From Scraps
You can regrow plants from many foods you are already eating. Buy once, eat again and again. It’s recycling at its finest. We have re-grown: celery, onions, potatoes, pineapple, avocado, and lettuce.
While starting a plant from a clipping may seem daunting, it is actually easier than you think. Ten years ago my mom broke off a twig from a fig tree in a parking lot, we stuck it in the ground (literally) and now that twig is almost 15 feet tall and produces a bounty of figs every year!
#8 Divide an Existing Plant
Many perennial plants and annual herbs can be divided and or rooted to create additional plants. There are also a lot of plant varieties that produce babies or pups that you can easily start a whole new plant with. Such as; century plants, spider plants, aloe plants, banana plants, and many of the palm varieties.
Read more here about how to divide plants
#9 Big Box Home Supply Stores
Shopping at our big box home store (I won’t say any names but it rhymes with Some Heap O’) I was asking a sales clerk when they would put their plants on clearance for the end of the year. She informed me they no longer reduce the plants because it is more profitable for them to just throw them away! It was against their policy to even let the customers take the ones out of the trash. The employee was kind enough to turn her head and I pillaged and plundered my way through their trash can and came out with a bounty fit for Martha Stewart. Talk to the garden manager and ask if you can help reduce their waste by taking these plants being exiled to the landfill and give them a new life.
So if you are visiting a big box store take a peek in the trash, you never know what garden goodies are lurking in there.
#10 Charlie Brown Sections
Many nurseries have a section for plants past their prime, have seen better days or have gone dormant for the season and look like dead sticks. They will offer these plants for free or at a hefty discount for you to take them off their hands. The best time to ask nurseries is at the end of a season, especially in the fall for trees. Nurseries have to care for their trees and protect them from the winter weather, so they would much rather sell them to you for a discount than to overwinter them. With a little love and care, they will bounce back without a hitch, again for free or at a fraction of the cost.
As I am writing this post (April) I had to go to the local nursery to buy some herbs for a workshop and I asked if they had anything in their Charlie Brown section, I scored big! They gave me; (for free) collards, cilantro, some flowers, and perennial herbs that have not started sprouting yet. All you have to do is ask.
#11 Golf Courses or Private Neighborhoods
I happen to live in an area with a lot of golf courses and private communities, which is great for my yard. Unfortunately, they both plant purely for the aesthetics of their homeowners/tourists/guests. They perform frequent plantings throughout the year to keep things visually-pleasing and vibrant. I had a good friend who was a landscaping manager for a nearby development and he had a budget of $30,000.00 per season to spend on landscaping.
If he didn’t spend his entire budget each season, he would lose it for the following season. So many times he would be very wasteful in his plantings just to keep his budget. When they change their plants, they simply throw out the existing plants to replace with new ones and this is where you luck out. Ask to speak to the landscaping supervisor/manager and see if you can come by and get the plants destined for the garbage dump at their convenience. Most will be happy to know the plants are finding a new home.
# 12 Ask Your Friends & Neighbors
Most of my friends have plants of some sort. Let your friends know you are trying to landscape your garden. I am sure they will be more than happy to let you divide their plants. Take the babies, a couple of clippings, or even give you some they may have grown tired of. I see ads all the time in the paper and on the internet offering free plants, trees, etc. if you are willing to move them.