The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

In praise of cheap plants.


By anget


There has been a bit of discussion on GoY just lately about supermaket buys and the benefits, or otherwise, of them. Even allowing for Brexit and other obvious considerations, I wonder if I am alone at being astonished at the rapid climb in cost of even the most commonplace plants in GCs.?

Every shrub you look at seems to have increased by enormous amounts since last season. An example of this is the rose. I think when the favoured varieties are now over £20 a plant, that’s enough to make anyone pause before they purchase. Or cut back drastically on the number they buy. Younger gardeners run the risk of being priced out.

I understand that cheaper supermarket outlets have economy of scale and don’t have to worry about providing specific plants for the market, and that the plants can look scrawny in comparison to those in GC’s and Nurseries. I really do think we should all support specialist nurseries wherever we can. And I am happy to pay a premium for unusual or tricky-to-produce plants. But I have been really pleased with the following plants that were bought cheaply and grown on. Patience can be rewarded.

Acer ‘Going Green’
Bought 2 years ago from supermarket, then 6inches tall, now 3ft.

Tulips both pots forgotten about from last year. Amazed at their reflowering so well for a second time. All 3 pots cheap buys.


I admit to having overdosed on clematis last year! My OH and I are both guilty here. When we were on hols. last summer the Supermarket had a fresh batch in, all under £2. How can you lose? So I potted them on and this Spring they have gone mad. Nearly all have flower buds and I’ve lost only one of them: ‘Justa’, which I’ve bought – and lost – 3 times. Shan’t try again!

Cercis, bought as a twig last year from T&M. Usually a very expensive shrub.

Baby strawberry plants bought from a small supermarket for under a £1 a plantlet. Planted them out this morning. ‘Cambridge Favourite’ (Well, I had to, didn’t I, as it’s my home town!)

More expensive, but still much cheaper than usual: ‘Camellia japonica’. One of the problems with buying from these outlets is they often only give the plants generic names.

These are just an example of some of the bargains I have managed to acquire. I would be interested to know what you all think about the pros and cons of buying plants from different outlets at the moment.

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Anget,my Cercis tree is many years old,but at the time of purchasing it,I can remember how very expensive it much so,that was all I bought....yours was a bargain.!
I very rarely buy shrubs unless it is to replace after a failure.
Today I also bought 2 tiny ivyleaved geraniums....they were 2.00 each....I feel the retailers are making up for months of lockdown.

3 Apr, 2021


According to an article in the RHS magazine, brexit will have a big impact on what comes over from the Netherlands.
Also the reluctance of some companies to use peat free compost is also a grave concern for the environment.

I always try to buy from my local gc/small nursery as you tend to get different plants to those in the big chains. We have one that grows plants for B&Q and they sell them with their own label at 25% off.

better still i try to grow from seed but that is also harder to cme by.

3 Apr, 2021


Meadow, I was thinking particularly about the cost for new, young gardeners. £12-£16 for an 'ordinary' shrub seems to be the going-rate in some GC chains. When you're starting out, who can afford to 'risk' that amount of cash on plants you're not too confident of growing them well?

SBG, I read that piece, too. Maybe a good reason for the UK to start growing its own plants. Even seeds have shot up in price this year. £3 for 'ordinary' ones is not unusual. Sadly, there are no small nurseries anywhere near us that I have found.

3 Apr, 2021


Ange, I fully agree. Some of the big, trendy GC’s with restaurants, clothing, farm shop etc... the plants are so expensive. I do buy the odd thing, haven’t for some time though. I, like, Eileen mentioned, use local nurseries. One I use often have their own plants brought on from seed.
I did big a red/brown cordyline form the supermarket this morning! Jings, I don’t really know where I’ll put it. It’s a big one and it was £8. I think back to Terra’s post earlier...
About buying plants and where will we put them...
Agree about UK growing their own, well, more than what we’re doing now..especially following Brexit.

3 Apr, 2021


Ha, Kate, your cordyline question made me laugh. In our last house there were 2 brown cordylines in the tiny front garden. They were enormous and when they flowered they towered over me. You'll need to watch it if it's the same type!! You'll need a machete!
The big GC's seem to have pushed up the prices by ££'s in the last few months

3 Apr, 2021


agree Anget , garden centres are a rip off and I used to work in one years ago. I buy from B&Q or B&M and they do very well . The prices are stupid nowadays , I do like going GC for the psychological feelings and they do pots that are nicer . Your plants look great. Mine have thrived , one example the palm fortunei £12 B&Q whilst £35 GC and it's done so well

3 Apr, 2021


I have a palm, Paul, that was titchy and cost £5. It's now 3ft tall and ready to go in the garden. 2 years old. I've done the same with pittosporum, hydrangea, upright yews, thuja and lollipop hollies, all bought from GC's but at a small stage of growth so much cheaper. I suspect if you know your plants and are prepared to wait a year or two, that is one way to economise.
It makes me laugh when you watch gardening programmes and they plant in 3's and 5's. I always think you would need a second mortgage to be able to afford to do that now!

4 Apr, 2021


I agree about the GC prices but will say, felt that for a few years. I prefer the smaller Nurseries, luckily got a couple local to me but also buy from the supermarket and B&M. I love fuchsias but had never been able to get them through the winter. Morrison's have them every year at just a £1. Have bought a few of them over the last couple of years. Grown them on a bit and then planted out. With help from on here have managed to keeps them all going. 😀

4 Apr, 2021


Exactly, Jen, but you wouldn't be risking growing fuchsias if they cost as much as the GC's ask, I don't suppose. These lower prices allow us to experiment and make rookie mistakes without breaking the bank.
I was just shocked rigid at the size of the hikes this year. I think they are pricing lots of gardeners out of the market. it becomes an 'elitist' hobby at a time when we want to encourage beginners. How desperate are we to pay £20 for a rose??

4 Apr, 2021


Even before all of this, David Austin Rose's were around £25 and their bare roots £18. I believe they have put their prices up since.

Yesterday I was looking up about lavender and on some site, they were selling for £15 for a litre pot! Considering more people have taken up gardening in this last year, the prices some must be paying must be so high.

5 Apr, 2021


Trotted off to the GC today, few more miles away, but still local. I haven't been anywhere really though we have three within about 5 miles, they never seem to have anything interesting that I am prepared to pay the price of. Today I went to a different one thinking that I might find a couple of Lupins that were marked as a colour rather than 'mixed'. They did have a few which had caught the cold winds or frost and looked sad and were priced at £10.99. Now to me that is too much for what used to be a basic perennial. While I was there I did splurge on pots of Primula, all priced at £1 regardless whether they were small or 2 litre pots. The big ones had 3-4 plants in a pot so a bargain.
For seed, pop into Lidl who often have flower and veg seed dirt cheap - no pun intended.
I love your bargains and will certainly have a look at the Clematis as the ones I was looking at today were £14.99! OK if they are a special, but not one of the basics.

8 Apr, 2021


I think £11 for a lupin is a ridiculous price, unless it's one of the fancy named ones, HSG.
I was sorting the clematis inthe weak and all are growing well after a winter in the greenhouse. Now up to the size you would normally pay £10+ for. Good luck with your hunting!

9 Apr, 2021


Crikey! I’ve planted it out now! 😆

9 Apr, 2021


Kate, in 5 years we won't find you!!

9 Apr, 2021


Ive had some great plants from poundland and the range,,I would love to support the gc but I dont have a lot of money for plants,hostas in morrisons 2 for £3 one of my favs im growing my lupins from seed and hopeing they do well.I got ena harkness rose in the range for £5 and its on the austin rose site for £29

10 Apr, 2021


Yes, LB, these places are worth searching out to see if they keep what you want. I've also noticed an astonishing difference in price over roses. I got some 'Ballerina' roses for a fiver last year, they're huge now. Everywhere else, at least £12+.

10 Apr, 2021


We went to a local-ish gc next to Brandon Flour Mill Driffield as it sells the flour in bulk sacks [our village mill is temporarily closed due to having its sails repaired]. We also bought a new bird table. I did look at the plants and I just thought 'How much!. In one of our much nearer ones at Beverley small 9cm pots of perennials like lupins, scabious, geum were 2.99 2l pots were £8.99 upwards. Ridiculously expensive.

10 Apr, 2021


I'm glad I'm not alone in having that reaction, SBG. They often seem to have gone by by £'s rather than pennies!

11 Apr, 2021

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