Free Plants!

IMG_0181Many people who are new to gardening probably head to the garden centers and find themselves shell-shocked by the cost of plants.  It can cost thousands of dollars to add both foundation plants and flowers to a yard.  I speak from personal experience!

It doesn’t have to cost serious moolah to achieve a beautiful yard but it does take some patience, ingenuity, and know-how.  So, here are some tried and true tips that I’ve learned over the years that may help you achieve the garden you want without busting your budget.

  • Look for wholesale nurseries.  Chances are pretty good, if you ask around, that there are some wholesale nurseries not too far from your home that offer cheap plants.  Here in North Carolina, there are several in Angiers – Old Stage Nursery and Broadwells to name two.  You do have to know your plants to some extent, or at least know the plants you’re specifically looking for.  But this is a great way to get foundation plants for half the price you’d pay at a retail garden center.
  • Ask neighbors for volunteers.  No, I don’t mean ask neighbors to volunteer their time in your garden or to volunteer to give you money for plants.  What I mean by this is, most perennials must be divided every few years so they continue to produce and bloom.  Lilies, hosta, iris and liriope are a few common plants.  Others, such as hellebores, rudbeckia, salvia, roses, etc., spread and create babies nearby that can be dug up and transplanted.  Larger plants, such as azaleas, hydrangea, and aucuba, can be bricked to encourage rooting from existing woody stems and then cut off from the parent plant and replanted elsewhere.  Ask your neighbors if they have any extras they’d be willing to share, or check facebook, craigslist, or other similar sites for community garden groups online that encourage sharing or swapping of plants.  Once you have established plants in your own yard, you’ll have your own stuff to divide and transplant, or share.  This is the best way I know of achieving a beautiful garden on the cheap!
  • Scatter some seeds.  Throw some seeds into decent soil, cover lightly and water.  You never know what might come up!
  • Join a local garden.  For a small fee, you can become a member of a local garden.  The JC Raulston Arboretum near NC State, offers annual memberships for example, and this gets you access to periodic plant sales and giveaways where you can take as much as you can grab, for free.
  • Get to know your plants.  Once you really get into gardening, you’ll have a better feel for what grows best here in Zone 7, and what soil and sun requirements each plant needs.  Consider what you want in terms of privacy plantings, color, etc. but don’t be afraid to move things around in your garden until you find the right spot if something isn’t working out for you.  There’s a plant for every soil, and a plant for every type of light!

Happy gardening!


Categories: Piedmont Gardener

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