Building your indoor plant jungle can get pretty expensive. Especially if you’re trying to do it as quickly as possible.
But you don’t have to restrict yourself to buying plants at garden centres, online plant shops or big supermarkets. You can often get houseplants for free.
If you know where to look.
Some of my best indoor plants were acquired for free and I’m going to take you through my top sources for free indoor plants.
Many of these sources for how to get houseplants for free are ones you may not have thought of before.
Source 1: Friends and Family
Let’s go for the obvious option first. But thinking about it in a few different ways.
If any of your friends or family have an indoor plant collection, chances are they would be happy to help you start your own with a few gifts or loans.
There are several ways this could pan out:
- They might be going away or moving house and need you to look after some plants, which you could easily do in your own home.
- They might be looking to reduce the number of plants they have and could offload a few to you.
- They may have plants that you can take cuttings from (highly likely if they have a decent collection of plants).
- If you have a birthday/Christmas/Anniversary/Mothers Day, etc coming up, ask for plants! You’ll be surprised how quickly this adds up. Ask for a gift voucher if you want complete control!
We all know that people will default to the easiest option when it comes to giving presents. My Dad had a pig farm years ago and he got way too many pig-based presents!
All you need to do is sow the seed (pun totally intended) with your friends and family that you are now a keen houseplant parent and are open to taking any plants going.
Source 2: Complete Strangers
I’m not suggesting you peek through people’s windows, looking to see if they have a plant collection, then knock on their door…. Although…
No, probably best not, then again if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
I’m thinking of slightly less intrusive methods, such as:
- Joining online plant or re-use groups, such as:
- Local plant exchange groups (Facebook is great for this).
- Freecycle/Gumtree/Craigslist – although you need to be quick to reply!
- Local community groups (also a great source of hilarious ranting and raving about what’s going on locally!)
- Local events listings – you may have regular plant swapping events near you.
- My best secret sources are parents/school groups where the chat is constant and people are always getting rid of
sh*.. really good stuff!
- If you’re often meeting new people, have houseplants as one of your go-to topics of conversation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how often serendipities arise!
- Look out for plants that need a bit of care to bring back to life. The learning curve will be invaluable in the long run and the sense of pride will be huge!
- Don’t wait for people to offer indoor plants, be proactive and let it be known that you are on the lookout for some.
Source 3: Your Own Indoor Plant Garden
Ok, so this might not be an option if you are just starting. But you can start your houseplant parenting in the right way to make your garden pay you back in plants.
A lot of indoor plants will allow you to propagate or take cuttings from them. Basically, they will give you plant babies forevermore!
Plan out the plants you choose so that you are able to multiply them. Don’t worry about how long this might take, you can often start propagating or taking cuttings within the first year.
Additionally, when you buy/acquire plants look out for tell-tale signs that they are ready to produce more plants. For example, Pilea Peperomioides will often have offshoots appearing around the edge of their pot.
Don’t be scared about the prospect of propagating, taking cuttings, dividing roots, or even harvesting seeds. There is a multitude of online resources and videos to take you through the whole process step-by-step, for every plant imaginable.
Yep, you’ll find a lot on House Planty! 😉
Great plants for propagating:
- Pilea Peperomioides
- String of Pearls/Bananas/Nickels
- Polka Dot Begonia
Source 4: Garden Centres and Other Plant-Selling Stores
Yep, I know, it costs money to buy plants, but hear me out.
Just like food in supermarkets, plants have a shelf life and not all of them will get bought.
Be brave, put on your big girl or boy pants and go and ask if they have any stock they need to get rid of.
You may get a ‘No’, you may get a ‘Yes!’, you may be asked for a small charge.
But if you try this a few times, you’re more than likely to end up with quite a few perfectly good plants at very little or no cost.
Source 5: Nature!
This will work better in locations with a warmer, tropical climate, but there are usually plants out there that you can bring into your home.
The easiest way to go about this is to ask a local expert. Start with people you know that are houseplant parents themselves and move on to gardeners and your local environment agency.
Be careful with local regulations about cutting wildflowers or pulling up wild plants and be sure you know what it is and whether it is suitable before you bring it into your home.
Source 6: Volunteer at Local Public Gardens/Botanical Gardens
If you have a public garden with a tropical house that needs volunteers and you have the time, this can be a gold mine!
If they don’t offer you spare plants as a thank you, you can guarantee there will be cuttings a-plenty to be given a good home.
Source 7: Gardeners and Plant Sitters
Eh? But gardeners deal with OUTDOOR plants and plant sitters are looking after OTHER PEOPLE’s plants. How do these characters fit into this article?
I admit that these might be a little less likely to be fruitful. But the key here is that both of these people look after plants.
If anyone is in a position to know when someone is getting rid of indoor plants, it could well be them. Give them a call, let them know you’ll take any indoor plants going and leave it at that.
You can simply look through local listings for these types of jobs.
Maybe nothing will come of it, maybe you’ll get a house-load of plants, but it’s pretty low-effort, so why not try!
There’s a bit of a theme with all these sources… Asking the question often gets the answer.
There are so many ways you could build your indoor plant garden at very little cost or even for free.
You simply need to ask the right people.
Don’t worry, you’re not asking for a lot. People will be happy to help a fellow plant-lover start or grow their collection.
You might even make some valuable indoor plant friends!
Good luck and let me know if you have any other sources. I’m always keen to get a few more plants!