Everyone who gardens will agree that gardening, especially flower gardening, is a labor of love and a great source of happiness and relaxation. Unless, of course, your budget is tight. Then it can quickly become a source of stress as your budget keeps you from doing what you’d like or the costs of what you’d like seem to be more than you plan for.
Here are a few ways to cut costs and grow a great garden that keeps giving back year after year through perennials.
Perennials vs. Annuals
The first great bonus to perennials is that they don’t require that you replant them year after year. Which means you don’t have to buy new ones, go through the seedling process, or keep purchasing soil amendments and such to keep the annuals replaced year after year. Perennials are always there, so you’re only requirement once they’re planted is to care for them and watch them grow and bloom every season.
Other Garden Money Saving Tips:
Use Plant Exchanges
These are a great way to not only get free or traded plants (no money!), but also to meet other gardeners and talk about what you’re doing and see what they’re doing. New ideas and friends are always a great thing.
Wholesale nurseries will sometimes sell to the public as well. Especially if you’re purchasing enough that your visit isn’t like shopping at the average garden center. If you arrive with a specific list and don’t ask a lot of questions about things or try to hunt around the place (in other words, you act like any other business owner would), you’ll likely get in the door to get what you want at a deep discount compared to retail.
End of Season Sales
End of season sales are a great resource. Perennials aren’t as picky about when they’re planted and many can be kept indoors until the next spring if need be. When the summer is at its height and fall is just around the corner, most nurseries, greenhouses, and garden centers are heavily discounting their leftover plants to get them off the shelf. If you’re going to purchase several plants at once, don’t be afraid to try to haggle. After all, you’ll be getting a lot of their stock off the shelves at a time when they’re preparing to just eat the costs on them and send them to the dumpster.
Fundraisers are common, especially when the school year or season is ending. Many high schools will have greenhouses as part of their facilities and the students sell their plants when they’re done (it’s usually a part of their Future Farmers of America curriculum). Other charities and government facilities like botanical gardens and forestry services will also often have sales events.
Buy Smaller or Weaker Plants
Buy smaller or weaker plants and bring them back to life. In fact, if you’re not too proud to “dumpster dive,” you can often find discarded plants behind garden centers and the like that are being thrown out. Ask and they’ll likely let you just take them. With a little TLC, they can be brought back to health – something most businesses don’t have the time for.
Buy Plants that Reseed
Buy plants that reseed and you can often get perennials that aren’t, technically, perennials to add variety to your garden. These plants easily reseed themselves and are easy to keep propagating year after year: marigolds, echinacea (coneflower), and yarrow are good examples.
Divide perennials to make new plants. Taking cuttings (technically you’re not, you’re “dividing”) by splitting existing plants is a great way to make your own replantings. Dividing perennials helps to spread them through your garden or take up more space for a better look.
Want to learn more about saving money on perennial gardens?
Check out these helpful resources:
Perennial Gardening from Colorado State University Extension
Perennial Garden Design from University of Illinois Extension