When I was a poor college student, my motto was "enjoy life on a dime". I love container gardening, as I mentioned in my last post, but it can get very expensive very fast. But not to worry! It is possible to garden without breaking the bank.
I would like to preface this by saying that, even though I have been container gardening for many years, I still consider myself a novice gardener. I tend to gravitate toward the plants that are easier to grow, and I am still learning. With that said, the information provided here is from a novice’s perspective.
One amazing find that has helped me keep my gardening budget low is seeking out the stores that have a plant clearance section. The major ones off the top of my head are Lowe’s and Walmart. I have yet to see a Home Depot have any clearance plants at all. What do they do with all of the plants that wither due to the Texas heat?
Lowe’s seems to have this clearance section year around, although I have been there when there was nothing on those shelves (probably due to the season change). The cool thing about Lowe’s is that they have several “sections” within their clearance section, which include $1.00, $3.00, $5.00, and a 50% off sections. I am not sure if the categories within the clearance sections vary by store. Many of the items in the $1.00 section are browned annuals or groundcover. However, you can sometimes get a whole tray of flowers (browned or happily healthy) for $1.00! The flowers pictured here are $1.00 for the small square pots, and they look pretty healthy to me! The $3.00 and up sections generally include bigger items. Plants that I have seen in the $3.00 and $5.00 sections are succulent dishes, six packs of annuals, and hanging baskets. Jasmine, agave, large trees, and shrubs are plants that I have seen in the 50% off section. In addition, Lowe’s runs some great deals seasonally, so check those out! My favorite sale is the one on three ounce Bonnie Plants and Herbs that cost $2.50 (regularly $3.68).
Walmart clearance plants are almost always 50% off UNLESS there is a price tag on top of another clearance price tag (can be yellow or red). A wide variety of plants can be found in this section. I bought a really nice lemon tree about three years ago (which I still have!) for under $10.00! Many of the smaller plants that come in trays or in small square pots can be found for under $1.00 each. I have even purchased a medium-sized shrub for roughly $3! The hanging basket pictured below was only $5.44. The catch with Walmart is that the clearance plants do not seem to be a regular section in the garden center. This may vary from store to store.
BONUS! Be sure to check out your local nurseries. There is a wonderful succulent greenhouse called Lost Pines Nursery in Bastrop, Texas that has a 40% off section for succulents and plants. I have purchased some very beautiful, unique, and quality succulents in three to four inch pots for $2.00-$3.00, which is cheaper than Walmart or Lowe’s for that size. The herbs shown in this post are from a local nursery that usually sell for $2.49 that I got for $0.99 each!
About half of the plants found in clearance sections are shriveled, brown, and possibly dead. However, the other 50% are plants that are either perfectly fine, slightly injured, a little browned, or are considered overstock.
Here are some tips for picking out good clearance plants:
1) Choose plants that are easy to grow. I have had success with herbs, shrubs, bulbs such as tulips and amaryllis, succulents, cacti, and citrus trees.
2) Choose plants that look pretty healthy. If they have a few brown or damaged leaves or stems, take a quick look at the roots to make sure they aren’t completely dry or have root rot. Also, evaluate the plants for any signs of distress or disease. Make sure they are not overly dry or shriveled up. You might be able to prune off some browned buds, flowers, stems, and leaves. I would consult a reputable online gardening resource for more information if you are unsure about the condition of your plant.
3) To further your dollar even more, purchase pots from the dollar store. The beauties here are amazing biodegradable pots. They are very durable. You can even decorate pots like I did in this video.
4) Make sure to choose the best soil for your patience level and watering schedule. I say this because there are several potting soil brands available that have built-in fertilizer as well as moisture retaining properties (as well as other properties available) for specific personal needs, such as Miracle Gro, and there are other brands that do not have these properties.
These clearance plants, especially those that seem a little rough around the edges, may need a little more TLC. But, I am positive that you can make the most out of your gardening budget with these tips and a little bit of research. Below, I have provided some reputable online resources for your reference. Keep at it and watch your garden thrive! Thanks for reading!