The Low-Budget Flower Garden

As y’all know, I’m a newbie gardener, and I’m not yet confident enough to fork over $25 for a Lenten rose or peony. (I mean, a girl can dream, though.) Instead, I’m always on the hunt to find cheap plants to beautify my yard and let me hone my skills.

Here are some successes I’ve had so far:

Cheap plant sources:

  • Friends: If your friend loves to garden, it’s almost guaranteed that she’s got extra of something to share: a bit of extra seed from a too-big packet, a plant running rampant that she can divide for you.
  • Craigslist: I’ve bought irises from Craigslist and seen ads for free plants — usually if you’re willing to dig them yourself. And recently I negotiated a bunch of blackberry bushes from a woman I’d bought blackberries off of earlier this summer, at the price of only $2 per plant. It never hurts to ask!
  • Family: This is the least practical choice if you live in a climate very different from your family’s, but there is something magical about growing four o’clocks descended from my nana’s down in South Florida many decades ago.
  • Costco: Seasonally they have very inexpensive bulbs and tubers: 50 gladioli for $10, if I recall correctly, peonies 10 for $10.

Cheap plant choices:

  • Plants that need dividing: day lilies, irises. Buy a few and stay vigilant about dividing them so that you’ve got new plants all the time.
  • Plants that make seed gathering easy: I’ve had luck with four o’clocks, zinnias, Mexican sunflowers and nasturtiums, and I’m going to try gathering sweet pea seeds this year.
  • Herbs, if you were going to buy some to cook with anyway. In August I bought a sage plant for $1. It won’t overwinter, but if I make my favorite butternut squash, sage and pine nut pasta even once, I’ll still come out ahead of if I’d bought a little packet of fresh sage at the grocery store. And tucked between the aging gladiolus and the flourishing marigolds, it serves as pretty greenery.

What ways have you found to spruce up your garden without breaking the bank?

2 thoughts on “The Low-Budget Flower Garden

  1. You can get cuttings from some plants, my mom let a friend having a cutting of an old-fashioned rose bush and it developed into a bush eventually. Recently my mom, sister, and I have got cuttings from a lovely indoor ivy bush of my grandmother’s. You cut a stem and leave it in water until it develops plenty of roots.


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