Last updated: 24th May 2019

No matter your circumstances in life, practising thriftiness is almost always a good thing. It is a practical way to live, and this good habit can do wonders for you and your loved one’s future.

For those of us that have made gardening and taking care of plants our life’s passion, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of money on it. On the other hand, for those of us who haven’t planted a single seed ever and just want to try our hand at it, you’d most likely not want to drop much cash on the onset.

So, let’s talk about how to get cheap garden plants and even free garden plants.

How To Get Cheap Garden Plants

There are many strategies out there for getting cheap garden plants. Let’s name a few.

1. Car boot sales

get cheap plants at a car boot sale[Image Source]

Car boot sales are massively popular in the UK. They get their name as sellers load up their car boot with things they want to sell, drive to the car boot sale and park up in rows, setting up a stall by their car.

They sell from the boot of their car, kind of…

The US equivalent would be a yard sale, except car boot sales are held in dedicated fields.

Car boots are a great way to get cheap garden plants because sellers usually price their items low. This is the reason they are so popular in the UK as you’re bound to find a bargain.

The bigger the car boot sale, the more chances you have of getting the plants you want. Whether you’d like plants that attract butterflies or plants that fit well for your window box ideas, definitely look up car boot sales in your area and visit.

Note that car boot sales usually happen on the weekends between March and November (weather depending).

2. Shopping locally

This strategy applies to almost all departments of “shopping.” Needing to import will almost always accrue additional cost. Thus, if there is a place you can buy near you – and chances are there is – consider buying there. Sometimes, they may not have exactly what you want; however, you can take that as a challenge and nurture the plants or seeds that they can offer.

3. Discount tables

Look out for the discount table at garden centres and supermarkets. It isn’t uncommon to find plants that have been neglected and are to be sold off cheaply. Other times, there is merely a sale going on.

Even though a plant has been neglected, there are many ways to revitalise its health. Good garden soil and worm composting, along with the proper care can do wonders and revitalise a plant. A lot of the time these plants just need a good water, especially if they came from a supermarket where they potentially didn’t get proper care.

Whichever the case, try it. A discount is a discount after all.

4. Seeds instead of plants

hands holding plant seeds

Rather than collecting a bunch of already grown plants, find seeds at your local supermarket or even online. If you’re looking for more specialised seeds (an example would be Lithops which can be hard to find) there are specialist seed sellers online and even on Etsy. You can usually buy around 20 seeds for a small amount.

Seeds are always cheaper. Moreover, if you’re planning to grow a whole lot, then your savings will grow exponentially. You’d be surprised how much you can save and learn by choosing to nurture seeds rather than matured plants.

5. Buy healthy plants to avoid repurchasing

buying healthy cheap plants

Having to buy plants over and over again after a failed attempt at nurturing one can get expensive. When looking to buy healthy plants, look out for these signs:

  • lots of leaves and shoots
  • the top of the compost is weed-free, moist and a dark in colour
  • no yellowing roots are poking through the base of the pot
  • it doesn’t look too miserable

This is important to look out for as these are the indicators of a healthy plant. If you do choose to buy plants rather than seeds, make sure they’re at least healthy enough that you can take care of them. If they die on you, all the money you spent taking care of the plant will go to waste. Then, that would prompt you to buy again.  The costs tend to pile up this way.

6. eBay

eBay often offers plants and seeds at a fair or relatively cheap price. Also, there are a few sellers around that do not care about the monetary value. They just need to get a few plants off their hands and into someone else’s in hopes that they will care for it the way they would.

In the advanced search settings, you can also search by item location. Plants aren’t always easy to post, so if you search by location you can find plants for sale close by and opt to collect them instead. This saves the plants turning up damaged, and you having to pay postage fees.

7. Gumtree

gumtree logo

Why shop at only one eCommerce platform when you have other choices? If eBay didn’t have what you wanted, you could try Gumtree. Just like eBay, Gumtree offers plants as well. At times, prices might even be lower on this platform.

Gumtree lets you search for items by location, and is best used to buy items in your local area. It even has the option to search for items that are “free”, so while you’re looking for cheap plants and free plants, you can look for other bargains for your garden!

8. Crocus

eBay and Gumtree aside, Crocus should have the plants you want. As well as the other eCommerce platforms, Crocus also invites potential customers through discounts and promotions. However, unlike the others, this platform has a niche; and that would be plants and gardening! They boast a dynamic variety of offerings, allowing you to search by plant type, growing conditions and more. They even offer gardening tools.

How To Get Free Garden Plants

Finding generous individuals to give you plants for free might seem like a challenging task. Moreover, getting anything with value for free is almost impossible these days. However, this is not particularly true in the gardening world. There are legitimate ways to get plants for free. Here’s a few of them:

1. Self seeding Plants

Self seeding plants, annuals or biennials, save you the money you would’ve used to purchase seeds or plants.

Here are a few examples of self-seeding plants:

  • Aquilegia (Common Columbine / Granny’s Nightcap)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea)
  • Argentinian Vervain (Verbena Bonariensis)
  • Forget-Me-Not (Myostis Sylvatica)
  • The Common Poppy (Papaver Rhoeas)
  • Sea Holly (Eryngium)

As the name implies, these plants self sow, meaning you’ll have a new set of plants each season. Depending on the extent of their self seeding, you may need to regularly keep these plants in check to make sure they don’t take over your garden.

2. As a gift

Getting a gift is a heart-warming experience. If you want to get plants for free, you can ask a friend, a fellow gardener, or even put it on your Christmas wishlist for either your office or family party. Who knows, they might even add some homemade plant food to go along!

If you want a specific type of plant, make sure to give the potential gifter a hand – especially if they’re not plant savvy. Creating a wish list, and even including links to where the plants can be bought, or photos, will all ensure you end up with the plant you want.

3. Freegle

freegle logo

As Wikipedia aptly defines: Freegle is an organisation that originated from the United Kingdom which aims to increase, reuse, and reduce landfill by offering a free Internet-based service where people can give away and ask for things that would otherwise be thrown away.”

It is a movement for the people, by the people. It is also a great way to get free plants when you’d like.

4. Local Community

free plant from the local community

We, as humans, have a need to belong. Usually, it is individuals with the same interest who gather, forming a community. Therefore, it isn’t uncommon to find a community in your area in the gardening niche. Try joining these groups. There’s a chance that someone might be willing to gift you a plant or two, especially if you’re new to the group and need a hand getting started.

5. Online Community

With the way technology in our era has advanced, people have adapted to meeting online rather than in person. It’s much more convenient in many cases. Consequently, this would also help you look for free plants. As much as there are local communities in your area, there would also be online communities that can gift you plants.

Try searching for local gardening groups on Facebook, or stretch the search out to groups in your county. These groups will be filled with avid gardeners that would be more than likely to offer some help. Also, if they have any cuttings or rhizomes going spare, they’re likely to offer them up to the group of likeminded people first.

6. Giveaways

get free plants from giveaways

Trees and plants make the world a better place. That isn’t a debate anymore. With this in mind, there are individuals out there who are very much willing to hand you a free plant.

Look out for events such as Arbour day, National Tree Week in November, and National Tree Dressing Day in December. These events, notably the Arbour Day Foundation, gives out free plants and trees for you to grow.

7. Use Cuttings

Do you already have plants at home? You can cut stems and root them to the soil, then begin to nurture them to growth. This is essentially a duplicating process.

Make sure you look up how to propagate the type of plant you have. Many plants have different methods that work for them, including planting the cutting straight into some soil, rooting it in water, or laying a leaf on the surface of some soil.

Keep on Gardening!

Even if you get your plants for cheap or for free, keep on nurturing plants because that is a gift you give to our planet. Happy gardening!

Where do you get your plants from? Do you have methods of getting plants for cheap, or even for free? Let me know how you do it in the comments below!


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