Most of us are guilty of spending more than we should have on a plant stand, or that fabulous garden bench, simply because we want to live among beautiful things. The houseplant hobby is expensive, if we’re going to be completely honest. You need plants, cover pots, potting mix, fertiliser, water, and grow lights at times. Some like to have moisture meters, light meters, plant stands, extra shelving etc. Basically, indoor gardening can cost a lot of money in the long run. Here are 5 ways to cut down costs significantly so that your hobby can be as easy on your pocket as possible:
1. Swap and share cuttings
Join horticultural societies and groups online, and make friends with other people who love houseplants. That way, you can often swap and share cuttings with others, who might have plants you want. Remember to be both generous and ethical in your dealings. You should always give generous cuttings, preferably those already rooted, when swapping with others. Mention that you’ll be rooting it to ensure the best chance of success, because that way it won’t need to adapt to a completely new environment when it’s still rooting. This means that the other party will most likely also do the same for you, since they might have to wait a week or two for the plant to root on your end.
If you have extra cuttings or offshoots to give away for free, be generous with others and give them away, especially if they’re clones of plants that you already have. This reduces clutter in your home, and means that others will be more likely to gift plants to you in the future, increasing your odds of getting a different plant in return.
2. Monetise your hobby
Start a plant blog, a plant-related YouTube channel, sell cuttings, self-publish a houseplant care guide and sell it on Amazon. The list goes on and on. There are so many ways to monetise your hobby. Go for it, I believe in you!
3. Online plant shopping
Facebook really is what a houseplant grower’s heaven looks like. You can often find other plant people online who can offer valuable insights and tips that can save you money. It also has plant swap communities and houseplant communities where people post plants for cheap, since they’re just looking to make a little bit of quick cash from a propagation, rather than worrying about things like taxes, costs associated with growing, labour costs etc.
Facebook marketplace is also a good place to find plants at lower prices. For the same reasons as the facebook group sellers, the ones on Facebook marketplace also sell inexpensive plants. In fact, if you find you get along with some of the sellers, and they actively want to get rid of plants, they’ll give you even further discounts. For example, one time, I met a seller who wanted to get rid of a lot of her plants because they were established propagations of ones she already had, and she was moving so she didn’t want to have to bring everything with her. Her ad had been up for about 2 weeks and there hadn’t been any new responses since mine, so she gave me a whole fabric grocery bag of potted up plants for $10. Facebook sellers also often sell plant stands at very affordable prices because they’re a pain to dissemble and a hassle to dispose of.
I learned about online bidding from buying orchids online on Ebay because of how inaccessible vanda orchids and cygnodes orchids are in stores in Australia. You can often find rare plants like variegated monsteras and syngoniums on Ebay for auction, which can in turn help you out in terms of negotiating when swapping cuttings. The trick is to find roughly how much you can get the same cutting or plant for outside of ebay and use that to inform your maximum bid. Then stick to the maximum big and never go over it in order to ensure that you’re saving, rather than spending more than you otherwise would. A good tip is looking for sellers who are selling many plants that you want, and check back on the auctions that don’t seem to be getting a lot of attention but will end soon, so that when you bid near the end of the auction, you can get a great price. Oftentimes the plants that don’t get as much attention are just as spectacular as the ones that are popular, but do not do as well as the others on the platform’s search function, meaning less people see them.
4. Save potential pots and stands and shop at garage sales
Glass jars from the kitchen? Candle jars? Chipped teacups? Old mugs? Keep these! If you know what plants to put in them, you can keep all kinds of plants in them. Some of these will need a thick drainage layer, though. If you want to grow plants that require good drainage, you can also make holes in these yourself.
Also consider using old shelves as storage for plants, or putting screw on furniture legs onto wooden boards to use them as plant stands. You could even adhere tall, thin furniture legs to wooden or bamboo trays you can get for cheap at garage sales to make plant stands. It will probably cost you less to do this rather than buying plant stands. At the end of the day, nobody will be seeing the bottom of the plant stand anyway, right?
5. Buy discounted plants
Florists and plant stores will generally have plants discounted if they’re not going well or no longer in bloom. This is risky for beginners since it’s a gamble for them whether the plants will even survive. My advice is to know the plant you want to buy well enough in advance that it’s not too much of an issue, so that you know what’s wrong with the plant just by looking at it. My rule of thumb is that in general, struggling, discounted plants are good to buy provided they meet two conditions: they’re not diseased and they’re not infested with pests. Sunburned plants, mechanically damaged plants, shocked plants and backbulbs are perfectly fine. This is a great way to buy a lot of plants but stay within your budget.