How to get new garden plants for free

If you are new to gardening, you may not yet have discovered just how much your garden can provide to expand and perpetuate its own existence. Regardless of its size, there are plenty of ways to use the resources at your disposal and get new garden plants for free, from the plants you are already growing!

As you look around, you will find plenty of opportunities to propagate plants from anyone’s garden – your own or that of your neighbors, friends and family, or even a larger environment. To inspire you to try this, I’m going to share some of the ways I’ve already gotten (or plan to get) new garden plants for free.

Preserve the seeds

Saving seeds is incredibly easy and straightforward. Some plants may be more difficult to harvest than others, but you should still give it a try.

If you’ve grown any heirloom or heirloom crops over the summer, it’s worth letting some of them go to seed, so those seeds will fully mature. I don’t keep the seeds of all the crops I grow, but I always leave at the end of the season with a good number of various seeds to sow the following year.

Another great thing to consider is choosing plants for your garden that are easy to self-seed, especially native plants. Self-seeders will basically do the job for you and increase their population in your garden year after year.

Make cuttings

While some plants are easy to propagate from seed, others do best with cuttings. There are a number of different plants that grow well this way, and some cuttings will take root even without the help of a rooting hormone. Using a homemade willow rooting solution can improve your chances of success when taking softwood, semi-mature and hardwood cuttings.

Last month I made cuttings from my lavender and rosemary plants. Over the winter, I plan to take hardwood cuttings from a range of fruit shrubs in my forest garden. You may also be able to take cuttings from other people’s property if you see something you like, but you should always ask first.


A home gardener takes a cutting from a monstera plant.

Lucy Lambriex / Getty Images


Perennial division

Another important way to increase plant stocks in my forest garden is to divide herbaceous perennials. Not only does this keep mature mother plants healthy, it also provides me with new plants very easily and quickly.

For example, I divide plants like comfrey and hostas. This involves lifting up any clump-forming perennials and carefully separating the roots before replanting the remaining part of the original plant. The other section is divided to provide new plants, which can then be placed elsewhere in the garden.

Swap seeds and plants

You should think about swapping seeds and plants with your friends, family, and other members of your community. Sometimes it is possible to find organized seed and plant exchanges, or if such events do not exist, you might be able to help organize one. Schools, churches, and community centers are all great places to connect and cooperate with other gardeners and growers.

The exchange of seeds and plants can also be more informal. When my mother-in-law visited me a month ago, she brought some beautiful flowering perennials from her garden and left with rosemary, mint and a cup of red currant of mine. There is great potential for swapping seeds and plants with other gardeners who might be interested in doing so. In the spring, people often sow more seeds than they need and have seedlings or young plants that cannot fit in their gardens, so they may be willing to share.

Populating a garden doesn’t have to cost the earth. Even on a very limited budget, you can create a truly beautiful and abundant garden. As your own garden improves, you will find that you have more and more opportunities to get even more plants for free.


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