Thrifty Gardening Tips: Think Small Plants

Here is Part 4 in The Home Garden's series of posts about how to garden on a budget.

Often when people go to the plant nursery they look around and see what they can get for that immediate impact in their landscape. They see larger more established plants and can easily see how they will fit in their garden. If these same people just stop and look around they might find a smaller and cheaper alternative! If you think smaller plants you will not only save money but sometimes you will end up with just as good of a plant just as fast.

Plants at nurseries come in all sizes from tiny little 2 inch pots to large gallon pots capable of holding fairly large trees. In general the larger a plant is the more mature and expensive it is. Smaller plants have a great advantage over the larger ones: the root systems are smaller. Why are smaller roots an advantage? The smaller root system will grow faster than a more established root system in new soil since it is better able to adapt to the ground conditions of your garden. This effect is easily illustrated with trees. When you plant two trees of the same kind in the same conditions, with the only difference being their size, the smaller one will eventually catch up to the larger one. It's all because of the roots!

Fast growing trees are another pitfall people purchasing plants may possibly encounter (how's that for alliteration!) Take a crape myrtle for example. They are extremely fast growing trees/shrubs that can in one season grow 4-6 feet depending on the variety. When you have a plant that grows that fast why buy the one that is twice as large? You won't be able to tell the difference in one year and you might save 20 bucks!

Sometimes it pays to be patient. This past Saturday I went bargain hunting at one of our local nurseries and found a plant I've been wanting to add to our garden, Caryopteris x clandonensis or blue mist shrub. My 4 new Caryopteris 'Longwood Blue's will grow into 3-4 foot shrubs with blue blossoms that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. These purchases were young plants, not discount plants, that were in 4 inch pots. I only payed $1.99 for each of them. Next year these four perennial shrubs will be thick with foliage and blooms and I'll have saved a bundle.

You really can save money when you buy smaller plants as long as you can wait for good things to come!

Take a Look Back at some of the previous Thrifty Gardening Tips!

Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1: Buying and Saving Discount Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1 Follow Up: Buying and Saving Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 2: The Generosity of Gardeners
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 3: Save Gas, Only Mow Where You Go

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