All the Smart (and Legal) Ways to Get Free Plants

All the Smart (and Legal) Ways to Get Free Plants
Photo: Marina Lohrbach, Shutterstock

Whether you’re more of a houseplant person or an outdoor gardener, you probably know how quickly the costs of pots, soil, fertiliser, and tools can add up. And that’s without the plants themselves. Fortunately, there are (legal) ways of getting plants without having to shell out a lot of money. Here are a few to consider.

Attend a plant swap

While you can certainly propagate your own plants by clipping and growing cuttings, if you’re looking to add variety to your garden or houseplant collection, you may want to look into holding — or at least attending — a plant swap. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Attendees each bring at least one plant, whether it’s a cutting, a spare, or a portion split from a larger clump of perennials, and swap it for something new.

Join a seed exchange

Check with local gardening clubs or public gardens to see if they have an established seed exchange program, and if so, whether they’re accepting new members. It’s a great way to save money, and meet (and learn from) other gardeners in your area.

Plant sprouted produce

If you open your cabinet and find some garlic, shallots, ginger, or potatoes that you completely forgot about and have since sprouted, rather of throwing them out, plant them instead.

Use a seed library

Take advantage of a nearby seed library — many of which are part of public library systems. Basically, it operates like a regular library, except with an extended borrowing period. Simply pick out the seeds you’d like to grow, grow them, and then collect the seeds from the plants at the end of the season, and return a portion of them to the library.

Use a ‘buy-nothing’ Facebook group

Many neighbourhoods now have buy-nothing Facebook groups or Instagram accounts dedicated to free stuff that is up for grabs or spotted on the curb. These often include listings for plants, flowers, small trees, and shrubs that people are giving away. Follow these accounts and check back often, because once something good is posted, it tends to go quickly.

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