All gardeners want more plants, even if their garden is already filled with them. After all, can you ever really have enough? The only downside to obtaining lots and lots of plants is that after a while it can get pretty darn expensive. So what’s a gardener to do? Put on your frugal gardening gear and get some plants, of course! Take thorough inventory of your garden plants. I bet you have something in the garden another fellow gardener might like to grow in theirs. Why not consider trading plants. I’m sure you’ll find something growing in theirs that you don’t have either. Most gardeners, whether they’re friends, family, neighbors, or total strangers, welcome the chance to trade plants with others. This is also an ideal opportunity to learn new things and collect ideas; you may even discover trade secrets or new connections to add to your frugal gardening list. Don’t forget to keep some newspaper handy, like in the trunk of your car. This way whenever you get new plants, especially cuttings, you can moisten the newspaper and gently roll the plants up in it. Your plants will stay cool and wet until you get them home.
If you don’t already know how, then now would be a good time to learn about taking and growing plants from cuttings. This is not only a great way to get more plants but it also saves lots of money since you won’t be spending it all on more plants. There are several ways to obtain cuttings. Cuttings may be taken from the stems, leaves, or roots of nearly any plant. When it comes to cuttings, time is of the essence. The ideal time to take cuttings is during their active growth cycle in early spring, although I have successfully taken them in early summer too. Herbaceous stem cuttings are commonly used to propagate plants like geraniums, mums, coleus, impatiens, and fuchsias. Hydrangeas and begonias can be easily propagated through leaf cuttings, and many root cuttings can be taken easily from coneflowers, phlox, sage, etc. Saving seeds from your plants will also supply you with an abundance of plants for future use. Seed trays are inexpensive and can be reused anytime. You can even use them for your cuttings, especially the Styrofoam ones. These are great for floating cuttings and seedlings until large enough for planting. Egg cartons are also good for starting seeds so don’t throw them away; reuse them instead and save money. Growing plants from seed also gives you the opportunity to repeat the cycle of frugality by giving away, or even selling, your extras.
Garden clubs can be great sources for plants too, and many even have their own Web sites. These are good places to find plant or seed traders as well as new contacts. Other sites, like Freecycle or Craigslist, also offer plants and other neat gardening stuff for dirt cheap or free. These frugal classifieds, and others like them, can be sources for many hidden treasures that are just waiting to be found. Another good place to obtain cheap or free plants is from landscapers. Many times, they have to throw out plants simply because they don’t have any other use for them, as they’re usually taken from one landscape job and replaced with others. If you’re lucky, you can catch them before this happens or at least leave them with your number so they can give you a ring whenever they have some extra plants needing a new home. I bet you didn’t know that you can also get plants for less, or even free, from the local plant nursery too. Next time you go, ask the nursery attendant or manager about their throwaway plants. We all know that poor-looking plants don’t make good sellers, so many of these plants actually wind up getting tossed. Asking about these plants would not only save expenses but some plants too. While they might require a little more TLC in order to revive them, oftentimes it’s well worth the extra effort.