Where to Find Cheap Plants—12 Places to Look

Online sites and local groups are goldmines for discounted plants.

Illustration of different plants in pots

The Spruce / Ran Zheng

Not everyone has the budget to buy new plants for each season or occasion. But that doesn't mean a garden has to look drab or bare, nor do gardeners need to be deprived of their favorite pastime. The sign of a well-designed garden is not how much money is invested. It's all about the selection of plants and how well they're cared for.

There is a variety of ways to fill your life with plants that are little to no cost. Through cuttings, seeds, plant sales, plant rescuing, and other resourceful ways, a garden can look like paradise without breaking the bank.

Here are 12 options for where to get cheap plants.

  • 01 of 12

    Propagate From Cuttings

    Cuttings transplanted into blue seedling trays with soil

     The Spruce / Almar Creative

    Cuttings are one of the easiest ways to create new plants. You can propagate existing plants by trimming off a healthy portion of stem and rooting it. You also can divide mature plants or trim off any small offsets, or young plants growing from a mature plant. This is an especially popular way to add to a succulent garden, as succulents tend to propagate well through leaf cuttings or offsets.

    There are many plant groups on social media with people willing to share cuttings. You also might be able to take a cutting from a plant you spot in your neighborhood that you'd like to try growing yourself. (Always ask the owner first before taking a cutting.)

  • 02 of 12

    Locate Rescue Plants

    landscapers working
    Hunstock/Getty Images

    Just as animals have dedicated rescue groups, so do plants. While some plant rescue groups focus on preserving specimens native to a region, others rescue all types from being discarded.

    If you don't know of any plant rescue groups in your area, think about local sources for unwanted plants that you could nurse back to health. Some ideas include:

    • Trash areas of garden centers and florists: Retailers will throw out plants that were returned or don't look their best.
    • Lawn care companies: These companies often discard plants from last season as they swap out new ones for clients. Approach the crew, and ask for the rejects; consider offering a tip or refreshments.
    • Construction lots: If there's a building under construction near you, there's a good chance some or all of the existing landscaping will be removed. If you spot a plant on the lot that looks like it's worth saving, contact the construction company to see whether you can dig it up.
  • 03 of 12

    Look at Farmers and Flea Markets

    Free garden plants in pots sitting outside be taken

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    Farmers markets can be a great source for cheap and sometimes free plants. Sellers generally price plants to be affordable, as they want to move their inventory while the plants are looking good rather than continue to care for them.

    Flea markets and other community home and garden sales also can be a good place to find inexpensive plants that are already adapted to the local climate.

  • 04 of 12

    Go on Garden Tours


    The Spruce / Lisa Hallett Taylor

    If there's a public garden in your community, see whether it gives tours. This will give you an opportunity to learn about the plants that grow well in your region.

    Plus, many garden tours offer cuttings of plants for sale or even for free. If they don't explicitly offer, it can't hurt to ask. An ideal time to go for cuttings is in the spring as the growing season is picking up. That way, your cutting will have time to form a root system well before chilly winter weather.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Join the Arbor Day Foundation

    girl watering small tree
    Paul Thompson/Getty Imagaes

    The Arbor Day Foundation is a group for tree lovers and for those who want to learn more about tree care. One of the perks of joining: You'll receive 10 free trees that are chosen specifically for your zip code. You'll also receive discounts on trees and shrubs through the foundation's online nursery. 

    Plus, your membership can contribute to 10 trees being planted in U.S. forests, as well as 10 trees being planted in threatened rain forests. 

  • 06 of 12

    Visit Yard and Estate Sales

    yard sale
    Jill Ferry Photography/Getty Images

    Plants are often overlooked at an estate or garage sale. Everyone has an eye on a valuable piece of jewelry or a cool furniture piece. But you often can find beautiful mature houseplants at these sales that would be quite expensive at retailers.

    Strategically arrive toward the end of the sale when items are often reduced drastically as the sellers want to pack up and move on. Offer a low but reasonable amount to take several plants off their hands, and be prepared to move them yourself. With a little gardening know-how, you can even nurse a somewhat-neglected plant back to health.

  • 07 of 12

    Check Out Garden Clubs

    plants for sale

    The Spruce / Lisa Hallett Taylor

    Local garden and horticulture clubs often hold seasonal plant sales. And if you're looking for more unusual plants at a great price, these are the sales to attend.

    An added bonus: Club members typically can offer information on how to grow the plant. And you might even find out that the club regularly engages in free plant swaps if you become a member.

  • 08 of 12

    Request a Plant as a Gift

    Orange potted flowers given as gift to another person

    The Spruce / Almar Creative 

    If your friends and family are asking you for gift ideas around the holidays and your birthday, suggest a few species of plants that you're interested in growing. The gift-giver can have fun picking out a good-looking specimen and a cool pot. And otherwise, it's a fairly straightforward gift option that doesn't involve a lot of guesswork on their part.

    You also can request seeds for a gift option that's easier on the budget. Or simply ask for a garden center gift card if you prefer to pick out your own plants.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Shop Online

    Houseplants searched online with laptop on desk with plants surrounding

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    It's possible to find local plant-swapping groups online, as well as individuals who have plants to give away often for free. Some places to look include:

    Check online groups regularly, as the offerings constantly change.

  • 10 of 12

    Start From Seeds

    Seed packets selected by hand to be planted

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    Seeds have always been one of the most inexpensive ways to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other plants. Many seed packets only cost a few dollars. And you don't necessarily have to get scientific (and pricey) about starting seeds with grow lights and a miniature greenhouse if you don't want to.

    Keep things simple with the basics—good soil, light, and water—making sure to follow the care instructions on the seed packet. It's unlikely that all your seeds will sprout, but that's OK because you didn't break the bank on them.

  • 11 of 12

    Look in the Sale Section

    Garden center displaying discounted rose bush being held

    The Spruce / Almar Creative

    Head to a garden center or any retailer that sells plants after a major holiday (especially spring holidays, such as Mother's Day and Easter), and you'll likely find some discounted specimens in the sale section. There's often nothing wrong with these plants. They're just seasonal inventory that the store wants to move.

    Moreover, don't hesitate to look at the garden center's plant sale or clearance section year-round. Sometimes returned plants or ones that are damaged end up in this section at a discounted rate. Just consider what you're capable of nurturing back to health, so you don't waste your money on a plant that will die.

  • 12 of 12

    Check Schools, Churches, and Offices

    easter lillies

    Tobias Titz / Getty Images

    Schools, churches, and office buildings often decorate for holidays and other special events with potted plants. And after the event, they might just throw away these plants.

    Speak up and ask whether you can take some home. They often will be glad to give the plants away for free, so they don't go to waste. You could even volunteer to distribute any unwanted plants to community members, reserving some for yourself.