There are all sorts of flowers that I love, but I have a fairly large garden space to work with, so I have to keep costs down.
I've found several ways to get a lot of plants for cheap or free, and I thought I'd share a few of them with you.
My first tip is, visit the garden centers often.
There is usually an area set aside for plants that have become over-grown, dried-out or drowned. These plants are significantly marked down, and if they're not too far gone, can be nursed back to health. Just be sure to keep them separate from the healthy plants and seedlings in your garden until they're healthy too.
I also like to make a note of the perennials that I like at the garden center while they're blooming. Often those plants get marked down after the blooms are spent, even though they're perfectly healthy. I won't get to enjoy their blooms that first year, but the savings more than make up for that.
Buy the smaller plants.
The main difference between the quart-sized potted perennials and the 3.5-inch potted perennials at the nursery is patience. Smaller plants often recover from transplanting more easily, and by the following summer, you won't be able to tell them from the plant that came in the gallon-sized container for 3x the price.
Buy bare-root, dormant plants when you can.
Bare-root plants sold at the box stores in the spring time are a little bit of a gamble because you can't always get a good look at the condition of the roots inside the packaging. On the plus side, because they're dormant, they won't be stressed by planting. I like to make sure the package is fairly heavy for it's size, and that it doesn't smell rotten. Those same plants, once potted up and actively growing, will cost at least 3x more (potting soil isn't cheap!), and they'll suffer from transplant stress.
Check for multiple plants in the same pot.
When browsing the potted perennials, I look for pots that contain a clump of smaller plants rather than 1 large plant. Those smaller plants can be gently teased apart and planted throughout the garden. In just a couple of years, they'll be nice-sized plants. I've gotten as many as 12 little baby hostas out of one $5 pot.
Watch the garden section of Craigslist and Facebook marketplace for free or inexpensive plants.
Sometimes, a gardener or landscaper will be thinning out a perennial bed, and wants to sell or give away the extras rather than composting them.
Divide the plants you already have:
Many perennials benefit from being divided every few years. If yours have reached that point, then you know they thrive in your garden, under your care. Divide them up and spread them around!
Take cuttings from your favorite plants.
Many plants can be propagated from cuttings, and like dividing, if a plant is already thriving under your care, it's a safe bet to add more of it to your garden.
Trade with a friend.
Are you drowning in orange day lilies? Maybe you've got a friend who would like to trade some hostas for them. There's a special joy in filling your garden with plants that remind you of a friend.
Start them from seed.
I hesitate to advise this, because starting plants from seed, indoors, isn't always as easy as it looks. Buying seed trays, potting soil, grow lights and seeds can get expensive if you aren't careful. If you're not into babysitting seed trays, rather than saving money, you'll be wasting money. But if you know you're good at seed-starting, and you've already got the necessary equipment, go for it! Any extra plants you wind up with can probably be sold or traded.
Do you have tips to save money on perennials?