Gardening can be an expensive hobby and in these economic times mean we need to find ways to save money.  Experienced gardeners often have thrifty ways of increasing their plant and seed collections without stealing or spending a penny. Here we look at five top ways you can get free plants.

1. Ask Friends & Neighbours

Kicking off with the easiest and fastest ways to grow your garden for free. Why not ask friends, neighbours, family or work colleagues (particularly those who are keen gardeners) for any plant cuttings, extra plants they don’t need or seeds. 

2. Pruning, dividing and removing plants that have gone to seed

Free plants are all around you and ready for the taking. All you need to do is divide them. To divide a plant means to dig it out of the ground and separate the parent plant into smaller sections. It’s not only an economical way to acquire additional plants, but it can also be necessary to control size, or to rejuvenate it.

Plants like hostas, daylilies, and peonies, among many others, grow to several times their original size after a few years in the ground. Turn one plant into two or three or more through the simple magic of division. Dividing most perennials is actually good for them and not only does it provide an inexpensive and easy way to increase your plant collection, but it also helps to keep the plants healthy and looking their best too.

Herbs also do really well when propagated by division, this include chives, lemon balm, lime balm, comfrey, all mints, oregano, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, lovage, catmint, bergamot and lemongrass.

Early autumn or mid-spring is the best time to divide plants and depending upon the size of the original plant, you may cut it in half, making two plants or multiple plants if the root ball is large enough

3. Plant cuttings

When taking cuttings ensue you look for a healthy plant, this is called the mother plant and it should be large enough that removing one or more cutting will not harm or kill it.

  • Softwood cuttings are ideal for many tender plants like pelargoniums, petunias, verbena, argyranthemums and osteospermums. You can also take softwood cuttings from many deciduous shrubs, including lavender, rosemary, forsythia, fuchsias, hydrangeas, lavatera and buddleja. Softwood cuttings need more attention than hardwood but are quicker to root and start growing.
  • Hardwood cuttings work well for most deciduous shrubs and roses, as well as climbers like honeysuckle and grape vines, and fruit bushes such as blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries and figs.

Our Haxnicks Deep Rootrainers are an ideal way to grow your cuttings as they encourage vigorous and strong root formation. They enable roots to grow straight, avoiding root balls and pot bound plants. Examples of vegetables that do really well in these trainers include beans and beetroot.

4. Seeds 

Collecting and saving seeds of vegetables or plants from your own garden is possibly the easiest way to get free seeds. 

Starting plants from seed means you can ensure they are healthy and strong right from the start. Tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas are good choices for seed saving. They have flowers that are self-pollinating and seeds that require little or no special treatment before storage. It is best to choose open-pollinated varieties rather than hybrids as these plants bear similar fruit and set seeds that will produce more plants that are similar. Experienced gardeners also opt for open-pollinated varieties that may be "heirlooms." These varieties may be passed down through generations, or they may be selections that are more recent.

Exchanging seeds with others is another great way to get free seeds. You can give up the seeds you don't want while at the same time getting the seeds you do want. This is a win-win situation because you both get the seeds you're after but without paying for them. Seed exchanges can be done in two ways: you can either meet with someone physically to swap seeds or communicate with someone over the phone, email, or a website to set up a long-distance exchange.

There may be local seed exchanges that you won't find on gardening websites. Do a general online search to find one near you that someone may have already set up a seed exchange. You may also try searching Facebook for seed exchange groups, or a "seed swap" event in your local area.

5. Growing plants from your food leftover

One of our favourite ways of obtaining free plants is by growing from our left overs or fruit and veg. It’s fun and rewarding to watch scraps continue to sprout time after time. Many vegetables and herbs from the supermarket or grocery shop will regrow easily in water or in soil. It is worth remembering that If you are buying fresh fruit and vegetables to choose heirloom/organic varieties as these grow ‘true to type’ or same as the parent so you will have a rich resource to grow new plants from. Some of the easiest veggies to grow includes; garlic, tomatoes,
spring onions, lettuce and celery.

To find out how easy it is to grow from your kitchen scraps, look out for our next blog on the 14th June. We will explain how you can grow plants using small fruit, veg and herb pieces that may have otherwise been flung into the compost bin!