Thrifty Green Planting: Annuals

Guest posting today for Aaron is his wife, Jen. We hope you enjoy.

Every year I look forward to the arrival of the warmer months.  Where we live, we are limited in the amount of months that we can enjoy Zone 4 flora. It is more cost effective to start your plants indoors early by seed. But procrastination can interrupt any gardener’s intentions, and before you know it spring has sprung! I started my seeds in March this year, which is too late. Currently, I have two meager impatiens and the other little guys that survived are violets.

Plants and flowers are essential for aiding in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing.  So, I chose to purchase some annuals and I was determined to get down and dirty with some vegetation. I went to a local “discount retail-super store” in lieu of my favorite gardening center. My eyes caught the dancing flowers hanging from the ceiling in various robust arrangements. These typically range from $15-$50. That’s just too much cash for this green thriftster. I avoided temptation, and headed straight for the packs of annuals and single accent plants. Here are some ideas of how you too can make this year’s annual potted garden a success:



  • Annuals I purchased at least five or six different varieties. Annuals usually come in “6 packs”, i.e.  six flowers in one pack. Save the plastic containers for next January’s post about starting seeds on the thrift! I selected plants that would complement one another in color, height, as well as sun exposure. An example would be planting purple salvia with some purple/white petunias. This year I spent $1.88 on each pack of annuals.
  • Accent plants These typically are sold singly. I found some spikes and asparagus ferns that were on sale for $2 each.   I also found a six pack of the dusty miller variety for $1.88.
  • Fresh soil I like the brand that has the “moisture control” beads and fertilizer. It is a tad more costly, but it saves time and energy when watering. I am not a “master” gardener, but I reused  “old” soil with the “new” soil. I don’t know what this does to the pH of the soil, but the plants don’t seem to mind.
  • Plant homes and pots Aesthetically pleasing AND thrifty is the best choice! I look for pots at garage sales and thrift stores. I have even found some nice discards in the alleys of Uptown in Minneapolis. On the farm, my Scandinavian Grandmother used toilets and tractor tires for her colorful masterpieces.  I doubt my neighbors would appreciate a toilet full of impatiens in my yard. Beware of bugs! Make sure to wash out your pots that you reuse every year, tossing the old soil if it was infested.
  • Getting down and dirty I gathered my tools, rarely used gloves, soil, pots and annuals together. I arranged the plants in a harmonious fashion.  There is no right or wrong here.  Just make sure there is enough room to spare for new growth, and you like how it looks.

Now, I can sit back and enjoy the nearly maintenance free beauty of my potted garden. My hope is that you can make your own beautifully hand crafted thrifty arrangement! Do you have any nifty and thrifty ideas to share with other gardeners?

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4 comments

  1. Judy Shepherd says:

    Great job, Jen! Another thought is buying after Memorial Day as everything gets marked down then. The selection isn’t always the best and the plants aren’t always looking so nice, but with alittle help from Miracle Grow, they did fine.

  2. Jen says:

    Private Student Loan: Thank you for the kudos. Keep coming back for more thrifty green planting/gardening ideas!

    Judy: That is a great idea as well! The after season plants are always a great deal, and with a little TLC, they can catch up and clean up nicely! What variety did you purchase?

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