Any ideas for spending less money on plants?
Sin bin/ dead trolley at garden centres. Often rich pickings there. There was a good thread about these plants last year but I can't remember what it was called.
Learn to grow your own plants from seed and swap some with other gardeners. Learn to take cuttings
As Dove said, propagation.. and I would add patience. Buy one plant from the garden center and collect the seeds that fall, or propagate at the appropriate time. Resist buying all the plants to fill your garden at once. Also, ask friends and contacts for cuttings or splits from their plants. I'll even stop and ask people if they happen to be out in the yard when I walk by with my dog, and have ended up with a few big bags of day lilies, a lilac, and a raspberry. One persons extra heading-to-the-compost-pile plants are anothers treasures.
Also, just work improving your soil with the compost you are gradually making. Don't go out and buy loads of bagged compost. Offer your garden as a place for neighbors to dump their old potting compost, instead of putting into the garbage. I even collect up the neighbors pumpkins to rot in my garden over the winter. Someone else a few streets down collects all their neighbors bags of grass clippings and leaves, and composts those. I worry too much about chemicals and carnivore feces to do that myself, but I do take clippings from the next door neighbor who I know doesn't treat her yard.
Best of luck!
When you buy a plant at the GC or nursery, always look at it from the point of view of how many cuttings you might be able to take or whether or not it looks like the pot can be divided into two or three sections. In next to no time you will have lots of discounted plants (or freebies, depending on your point of view!)
Many garden centres have an area where they put plants which have passed their best. This may simply mean that they have passed their flowering period and aren't as appealing as other plants. There are some real bargains to be had IF the garden centre continues to look after them properly.
There is one GC we go to regularly where the sale plants get just as much tlc as everthing else but the plants are discounted by up to about 70%. Other GC's seem literally to dump them in a corner and hope some mug will buy them before they die.
If you have a good nursery ( or GC ) near you, go along in late August /early September. Perennials will be filling pots and may be well discounted. You can often divide them into two or three plants and pot them on.
Agree with Violet re buying plants to split. Also keep your eyes peeled for bargains at discount stores like Aldi, B&M etc. B&M are doing three perennials for a fiver at the moment. Actually some nice ones too. Join Green Plant Swap and do plant requests on here. And try sowing some seeds if you're patient.
Just to show that I practise what I preach - I have today finished creating an alpine border. The soil is a mix of new topsoil and lots (and lots) of horticultural grit, with a pea gravel top dressing. The plants are sitting there looking comfortable.
Three saxifrages were, having finished flowering, not looking particularly attractive (ie they were not the horticultural eye-candy that GCs place prominently to get punters to buy) good, healthy plants, and from three pots I have split them to create six plants. I could have been even more parsimonious had I chosen, but I have high hopes of what I have done.
Time will tell.
Agree with the bargain bench. Last August September I had some hebes for 99p, they looked dry and tired, now massive. Also a leycesteria golden lanterns that looked like dry sticks for £2.. my nan had passed away in a local hospice following a fight with Parkinson's, with one outside her hospice door, and I was desperate for one in the weeks after. Look at it now! Love the almost flouro green leaves. Some of the hebes also in shot.
Ive also had perennial collections for a tenner from wowcher, which have taken and spread, and the ones I liked (and didn't kill!), I bought a couple more of.
also free seeds with magazines!
Go on Freecycle in your area and see if there are any offers or requests for plants. I have just given away five "lots" of seedlings and plants which need splitting up or are not needed in my own garden.
I hate throwing viable plants away and people are seem very keen to get them. I had to put a stop on the number of requests I could help with. I did the same last year.