close up of a variety of houseplants

How to get free plants – and how to water them for free as well!

Indoor plants are proven to act like protective sponges, naturally absorbing and neutralising toxins commonly found in the air in our homes. Houseplants also help to humidify the atmosphere, cutting the risk of irritation and allergies caused by dry air and dust. Having flowering plants in our living spaces has also been shown to reduce day-to-day stress, improve memory and boost our happiness!

What’s more, adding more greenery to your home needn’t cost a penny. Here’s how…

Elderly woman's hands giving a plant into a younger woman's hands

Bag giveaway plants from local reuse groups…

Houseplants are a pretty frequent offering on reuse listings such as FreegleFreecycle and assorted Facebook groups, so sign up and be ready to contact the poster quickly when a new listing is published. As is usual with freebies, the earliest (polite, with a plan for collection) bird catches the worm.

Be ready to do some nurturing! Often ‘free’ means ‘in a sorry state’. The large cheeseplant we snagged on Freegle was dusty and parched with brown-edged leaves, yet it was putting out new shoots within a week or so of regular watering. Plants are fighters and, given a chance, most of them will bounce back eventually.

Cabbage leaves regrowing from root suspended over a jar of water

Grow edible plants from leftover scraps…

Even the least green-fingered among us can regrow more food from these veggie scraps. Just add water!

  • Next time you chop the root ends off your spring onions, simply pop each one roots-down into a shot glass with a centimetre of water to see swift regrowth. Change the water each day and you’ll be harvesting within a couple of weeks!
  • Find a slightly unappetising looking garlic clove on your bulb? Instead of chucking it, put the root end down into a little water to sprout some fresh garlic greens. Again, make a note to change the water each day. Tangy in salads!
  • The base of a head of lettuce is ripe for regrowing! Stand your lettuce stump in a wide, low pot and add a centimetre or two of water. Change the water each day and see new leaves grow from the centre.
Sedum plant growing in a crack in the pavement

Plant up some succulent weeds…

If you’ve ever owned a succulent – a money plant, sedum variety or similar – you’ll know just how keen they are to make baby succulents! A sprig or leaf, tucked into the soil and kept moist, will start running roots within a few days.

In many parts of the UK, succulents can be gathered for free from cracks in the pavement, where they cling as weeds. Scoop out a clump or two and plant them in a free-draining pot of soil. Given a weekly watering and a sunny spot on a windowsill, the little plants will flesh out to fill the available pot space.

For those not lucky enough to discover a free source of succulents on their doorstep, why not keep an eye out for a stylish succulent when you’re next at a friend’s house? Beg a shoot or two and you’ll soon have your own colony!

Woman's hand holding a watering can over a houseplant

…and water them for free as well!

Let’s get out of the habit of using drinking water specifically to water houseplants. Our indoor beauties will be just as happy with:

  • Cooled dishwater or bathwater, provided it’s not too dirty. They don’t mind a bit of soap!
  • Water saved while we wait for the shower or tap to get warm enough for washing.
  • Rainwater – best preferred by houseplants – collected in containers or, even better, a water butt installed on a down pipe. Just one water butt can hold enough rainwater to fill a large watering can 25 times over. The average rainfall in the South East can fill a water butt up to 450 times a year, depending on the size of your roof. Why not check your water company’s website now to see if they’re offering discounted water butts?

How did you come by your houseplants? Gifts? Freebies? Hand-me-downs? And how do you make sure they get enough to drink without using more of our precious tap water than necessary? Inspire us and share your stories with Greenredeem on Facebook or Twitter.

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