Plants for Free!

Transplanting a self seeded Eschscholzia californica - © GAP Photos

Transplanting a self seeded Eschscholzia californica – © GAP Photos

Filling your garden with plants can be an expensive business as some can take time to establish and so do not fill a space as quickly as you might have hoped for.

While shrubs and trees give structure and height to borders in winter and early spring, there are many self-seeding annuals and perennials that are worth planting if you are gardening on a bit of a budget. By including plants like these, which spread their seeds quite freely, you will likely see them come up on other areas of the garden, usually around the original plant, or in small nooks and crannies where seeds have been carried by the wind or by insects and established themselves elsewhere.


While some gardeners might view these opportunistic new plants as weeds, others will see them as free plants, which can be carefully transplanted in mid to late spring and moved to desired locations around the garden. When transplanting young plants, try to ensure you also include as many of the newly establishing roots as possible, and water in well when you replant. Try to avoid transplanting during periods of hot weather to give these new plants a better chance of successful establishment.

Lifting self seeded Nepeta 'Walkers Low' - Catmint - © GAP Photos

Lifting self seeded Nepeta ‘Walkers Low’ – Catmint – © GAP Photos

Plants that self-seed easily and are inexpensive to buy or grow from seed include Verbena bonariensis (Argentinian vervain), Eryngium (sea hollies), Papaver rhoeas (poppies), Aquilegia (columbines), Myostis sylvatica (forget-me-not), Nigella (love-in-the-mist), Nepeta (Catmint) and Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle). This is by no means an exhaustive list!