Find Your Green Thumb without Wasting any Green
I used to spend money on plants. I’d buy them at the lovely garden center near my apartment where they were pricey, and because I’d invested money in them, I was afraid they would die. So I never experimented with them. Over the years, I’ve learned the key to keeping houseplants: live without fear of moving them around, trim them, or re-pot them if necessary. I found I never experimented with expensive store-bought plants (in expensive store-bought pots) because I thought change would kill them.
Then I mastered the art of the hand-me-down, the clipping, and the dumpster dive. With these low-cost (or no-cost) acquisitions, even if you fail, you learn something but you don’t lose anything.
A house-full of plants without spending a fortune
- Ask friends for cuttings from their plants. This works well for Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane), Devil’s Ivy, Jade plants, Wandering Jew and rubber plants. Many established home horticulturists have successfully replanted cuttings from their own plants and know which plants work as donors. So if you know a plant person, hit them up.
- Dumpster dive salvagable plants you find in alleyways or dumpsters. Some plant centers throw out plants they can’t sell, so their dumpsters are often an excellent source of free greenery. Just keep an eye out for pests or obvious disease, and keep dumpster dived plants away from your other houseplants and animals (like on a back porch) until you can establish their health.
- Estate sales are an excellent place to find cheap or even “free to good home” plants, especially in vintage homes where house plants have had several decades to grow and flourish. You’ll find strong, well-established plants, and many are pre-potted!
- Big box hardware stores are one of my favorite places to check around back to see if any “bruised” plants have been tossed. They’ll also toss out cracked planters and stuff.
Don’t forget the planters
I often find beautiful vintage ceramic planters at estate sales. My favorite is Haeger Potteries, which are also easy to find on eBay or Etsy. Hull Pottery is a close second. Shawnee Pottery has a great line of figural planters which you can find on the cheap. Their deer-shaped planters make excellent containers for cacti.
Thrift stores are also a great source of planters, especially if you get creative. Look in the housewares department and think outside the box: glass bowls, vintage enamelware saucepans, chip and dip sets, even plastic bathroom trash cans make excellent planters. If they don’t work out, you haven’t spent a fortune on them, so you can re-donate them and try something else. No matter what offbeat object you use as a planter, be sure to line the bottom with something that helps the water drain away from the plant’s roots, like gravel, broken pottery or pebbles.