The best places to find affordable plants

Alocasia silver dragon

I finally willed myself to leave the five mile radius of my town for the holiday weekend and had some self-prescribed fun! (And now I need to sit in a dark, quiet room for about three weeks.) Anyway, I browsed a lot of plants yesterday. My love for plants hasn’t waned over the years, but I am more cognizant of what I bring into my home these days, as I don’t want to overspend on things that could, you know, potentially die. (Will I try to buy a cute calathea occasionally? Yes.) To the untrained plant consumer, I think it can be easy to drop a lot of money on fairly basic plants that might not make it. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Over the years, I’ve been digging around for “cheap” plants with relative success. Here are a few of my favorite ways to source affordable plants.

Me holding obovata and pothos and philodendron

Plant swaps

My town has a local meetup every month or so for trading plants. Often, people will bring plants to sell, although I’ve also scored some sweet plants through swapping (like my gorgeous neon philodendron). Local plant sellers usually offer amazing prices, too. I do not haggle unless sellers propose an “or best offer” — plants take a lot of time and resources to grow! And even if you show up to a swap empty-handed, you may be able to score some small freebies because foliage enthusiasts can be quite generous. 

Marketplace

I don’t check the notifications for my local Facebook plant group often, but I’ve seen great deals. You never know what steals you’ll find when people want to declutter. 

Succulents in a box

Flea markets

Every month or two, I visit the flea market in my hometown with my dad. Besides finding amazing prices on DVDs, clothes, fresh produce, and home goods, I always find the best prices for succulents — often two to five bucks for healthy, niche succulent and cactus babies. I try to go as early as possible in the morning to avoid crowds and afternoon heat — and get the earliest dibs on the available inventory. 

Grocery stores

From Trader Joe’s to Grocery Outlet, I’ve bought so many luscious plants at grocery stores! Grocery store plants often come from local suppliers, so the prices are never exorbitantly high. Chances are, you’ll also find it in a cute metal or ceramic planter, which eliminates the need to buy your plant a new home. 

Poots Succulents

Local plant nursery

Since many local nurseries are small businesses, their prices tend to be a little higher than prices at big box stores. Don’t let that deter you, though. In my experience, you’ll probably find healthier and less common plants at your local nursery. For only a few bucks more, you’re investing in a higher quality plant that’s less likely to die on you. And it probably won’t be your run-of-the-mill pothos—no haterade towards pothos because I love ’em.

Online

Buying plants online is admittedly not my thing, but I’ll occasionally spring for a plant online, especially if it’s not common. Some of my favorite shops include Succulents Depot, Hirt’s Garden, and Zensability. Etsy is a gamble, unless you’re buying from a legitimate plant business. Make sure to comb through those reviews!

Alocasia silver dragon

Plant friends (fronds?)

Having plant friends is awesome because fellow foliage fanatics tend to have a wealth of personal experience and, obviously, a wealth of plants. I was actually prompted to write up this post because of a new plant one of my plant buddies gave me! Yup, I have a friend with whom I regularly exchange full grown plants and cuttings. Here’s an alocasia grey dragon I recently received from them — look at how lush it looks with its two new leaves popping out. 

Plant collecting can quickly grow into a pricey hobby, but keeping your costs down is definitely doable with some strategic shopping. It’s always great to start locally, then venture out online once you have a good grasp on prices and your plant care capabilities. So go forth and find great plant deals, my fronds.

 

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