Fill your garden with plants for free – grow beautiful flowers and shrubs without spending a penny

You don't need to spend a fortune to show your garden some love

The cost of new plants from the garden centre or online nurseries can quickly add up. However, with a little forethought, you can fill your garden with plants for free.

'What is this miracle source of free plants', you may ask? Simple – it’s all about calling on friends and neighbours gardens, saving seeds, taking cuttings and dividing plants. All with their permission of course.

This purse-friendly garden idea does involve a little effort, but you'll soon have a plot bursting with blooms and not a penny spent.  

How to fill your garden with free plants

1. Take cuttings

This method will feel a bit like magic when it produces a new plant. Take a cutting for a plant such as a pelargonium from a friend's garden or when you are out on a daily walk. Just remember to ask permission!

white house with plant and windowsill

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Cut off the stem so that it is about 10cm long and doesn’t have a flower or buds on the end. Store it in damp kitchen roll if you are travelling. Once home, cut the bottom end of the stem just below a leaf and then remove the leaf.

Suspend the stems in an old bottle with water on a windowsill so the bottom end is underwater. Soon roots will form, and in a few weeks, you can transplant the seedlings to another pot. Magic.

2. Divide existing plants

If you’ve been itching to add some geraniums to your garden, and you have a friend with a hardy clump, see if they’ll let you take some home. According to the RHS (opens in new tab), 'dividing perennials regularly will ensure healthy, vigorous plants that will continue to perform year after year'. So you are actually doing your friends a favour.

You can divide most perennials at any time of the year, but at this time of year (between March and May) you will have most success with divide summer-flowering plants. While spring flowering plants are best divided in June and August.

spring flowering plants with brick flooring and pot

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Wait until the plant has stopped flowering, lift the entire thing out with a garden fork. Then split the root ball – as long as you’re gentle and quickly replant the original and water it well, you won’t damage it.

Next, take your section smugly home in a plastic bag to keep the root ball moist until you replant it.

3. Save seeds

Rather than splashing cash on pretty cottages flower seeds such as love-in-a-mist, poppies, cornflowers or marigolds, find friends who is growing them. Or you might be lucky enough to find a patch growing wild.

save seeds with brick wall and wooden bench

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

It is best to wait to do this until September when these annual flowers will have set seed. You can can then snap them off and separate them from the seed cases and store in a dry drawer.

Use one of the sachets of silica beads that come with new shoes or bags to keep them try until spring when it’s time to sow.

Related: Brilliant budget garden ideas that will boost your outdoor space without breaking the bank!

Keep an eye out for potential blooms on your next walk, or get rummaging through your friend's gardens.

Rebecca Knight
Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.