Buying plants from the garden center can get expensive, especially if you need new plants every year. There are many ways to find free plants for your garden, if you know where to look. Many of the plants that fill in my flower beds are free, and I’ll show you below how I found them.
It is important to remember that it is much easier to come by free perennials, meaning they come back every year, instead of annuals. Annuals are usually bought or started in the spring and will die when it gets cold in the Fall. We are going to talk about how you can acquire free perennial plants for your flower garden. I’ve listed my five favorite annuals in this post!
The great thing about perennial flower gardening is that you will eventually be able to pay things forward and give away some of your plants to friends and neighbors that are trying to get into gardening without spending too much money.
Free Plants from Neighbors
One of the best, and easiest, ways to get free plants into your garden is to ask your neighbors and friends. Just about anyone who has a perennial flower garden will at some point, have extra plants. Most flowers will need to be split and divided every couple of years, and it is often at this point that people will be looking to give them away. You will be able to see how they look in your neighbors garden first which is an additional benefit.
The added benefit to getting plants from your neighbors is that they are in your local growing zone. These are plants that have toughed out your climate and should thrive when planted into their new garden. When you buy a perennial that has been babied at a garden center, or imported from a greenhouse, you never know if they will do well after being transplanted into your home.
Offer to payback your neighbor in a few years or set up a neighborhood plant exchange! This way everyone will benefit and you will fill your garden up for free.
Free Plants Online
If your neighbors aren’t the gardening type, or you have exhausted all of their resources, try online! The next best place to find plants is to join your local Facebook gardening group and see what people have available. Again, many gardeners are keen to share the bounty from their years of flower gardening. If you pose a question to the group and simply ask if anyone has any plants to share, I can almost guarantee that a few people will put their hands up to help you out.
If you aren’t in any Facebook groups you can also do a free plant search on Facebook marketplace. This is another space where people will be getting rid of perennials. One important note here, before you take any plant from someone you don’t know, you should use Google to make sure it isn’t invasive or poisonous. Sometimes people are giving plants away because they are trying to get rid of an invasive species of plant that has taken over. This is usually out of lack of knowledge, not because they are trying to spread this plant to others, so keep a careful eye on the type of plants you are getting.
Divide your own Plants
After a few years of being in your garden, most perennials will need to be split. This is an excellent, fast, free and easy way to fill in empty spaces in your garden. All perennials can be split, and we usually do this in the spring and fall. One of the easiest perennials to split is a hosta. Hosta can and should be divided every couple of years and then easily replanted throughout your garden. Eventually, you will be the one giving away your plants to neighbors!
This article from Sheridan Nurseries breaks down how to divide your perennials in clear steps and is worth checking out if it is your first time doing this.
Additional Places for Free Plants
You have probably been able to find some free plants for your garden in the places listed above but if not, there are other places to look. Sometimes if you drive down streets with big gardens, you will find pots out front that have a free sign posted next to them. This will be the easiest way for some people to get rid of plants, but the hardest for you to find. Finding plants on the street seems to be just luck of the draw, but you may get really lucky and find someone who just doesn’t have the time to list plants online.
Another place to check is with your local garden center. Nurseries often have plants that are in less than perfect condition that they will be willing to part with for free, or next to free. It never hurts to explain where you are coming from and ask if they can help you out. As the cost of everything rises, we all need a little bit of help to stay ahead. You could even offer to take them without pots, since you will be planting them right away. This way the nursery isn’t out the cost for the plastic pots, and still gets rid of some plants without throwing them away. You will likely have better luck asking garden centers near the end of your local growing season than at the beginning.
Finally, does your community have a free compost area or free community garden? Both of these places could hold hidden plants for you to take home and add to your garden for free.
Have you found free plants anywhere else? Let me know in the comments below!