1~ As you may know. The biggest tip is to find the clearance section in your gardening center. Mine mostly being Lowe's and Wal-mart. Sometimes however I do get lucky enough to find moderately (notice I didn't say cheap : ) priced plants in nurseries. The clearance section is usually the ones that have been over watered or been in the sun when it need shade or vice-versa. They usually look like crap , but a lot of times they do have hidden potential you just have to find it. Plus, when its $.50 I mean why does it really matter? : )
Take this weekend for example. We went to Lowes (like we do every weekend) and of course we DID NOT have extra money, so I headed first to the clearance section. I was in luck upon walking up there were already people surrounding the carts of clearance plants. The one that was getting the most attention were the annuals in peat pots for $.10. People were going CRAZY! They were all excited and giggly. But being the somewhat greedy gardener I am. I went in search of the Perennial clearance plants. I really didn't feel like planting anymore marigolds or impatiens anyways. That's when I spotted the Calla lilies for $. 50! They didn't have any blooms and to say I know nothing of Calla lilies is putting it mildly. But it just so happened that the weekend before I was at my neighbors admiring her one Calla Lily that she didn't even know she had! So it proved to me that it was hardy in zone 7 and that was all the incentive I needed.
So I ended up with 3 of the small Calla Lilies and 1 big pot calla Lily (that retailed for $17 for $1!!) So all in all I ended up with-
2- Pillow Talk Calla Lillies (red bi-color)
1- Amethyst Calla Lily (purple)
1- (big one!) Crystal Blush (white)
1- Park Princess Dahlia (pink, of course!)
1- nearly dead Strawberry Sunset Hibiscus tree (with a braided trunk!) Oh I hope I can keep this alive!
1- Double wave Petunia (for $.50)
2~ PATIENCE. A hard word, but in the end its just smarter. Whenever I see a plant, I want it in the smalled size possible. (aka. the cheapest) it may take a while to get to the size you want, but that's half the fun right? Patience inspires appreciation. Right now I have 7 hydrangeas that are not even a foot tall that I planted last fall. I paid probably between 5 and 8 dollars a piece from Michigan Bulb. Where as had I went to Lowe's or even a nursery it would have cost twice maybe even three times that! Now they may be small, but they are there and I didn't go bankrupt trying to buy them. Plus it left me money to buy more plants : )
3- I know that all of you gardeners know this one. DIVIDE and SHARE. There are so many Perennials that you can divide and split up and scatter them in other places of your garden. Like the Iris's that were beside our house. I dug them things up divided them and now they are all over the yard!
Plus you can dig them up and Share with someone else. You never know maybe they will have something that they can share with you!
4~ One of the things that many of us thrifty gardeners have to learn the hard way is that saving money is not always the thrifty way. For example. I have clay soil and it is horrible. I have to amend the crap out of it by adding peat moss and manure to help it drain. Well, at first I didn't want to spend the money to buy the amendments. (trying to save money) but in the end it ended up not being the thrifty way because my plants suffered and some died. So the forth tip is to going ahead and spend the money and take care of those plants. That's the thrifty way!
5~ My favorite thrifty tip, EVER is this. SEEDS!!! Even if only half the pack germinates your still only out the price of a plant and you get so many more plants! Seeds are trial and error. Some germinate easier and faster than others and some just aren't really worth the time. Which leads us to the 6th tip.
6~ Knowledge is Power. The thrifty girl knows all about googling and reading up on the plants she tends. She knows that when your planting that knowledge can make a world of difference.
For example. My hydrangeas. The Greek root "hydr" is a reference to water, like hydrate. So it needs A LOT of water. I didn't know this last year, but I guess it wouldn't really matter since we were going through a drought! Get a library card, use the Internet for something other than Myspace : ), Magazines are a great source of information. and of course read blogs. Get other peoples experience with their garden!
7~ Buy self-sowing annuals/biennials such as Marigolds and Hollyhocks. One years cost, many years of pleasure. But be diligent about thinning them out. They could be a good thing eventually turning very bad!
Thats all I can think of right now. I by no means think I know everything about gardening, these are just some of the ways that I save money and I hope that it can help you too!
Hope everyone has a Great day and Happy Gardening!