Plant More, Spend Less: Shop Nurseries Off-Season

If your gardening budget normally doesn't equal your enthusiasm for the hobby, be sure to shop the deep discounts offered by nurseries in the off-season.

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Browsing the local nursery, you may find yourself wanting to bring home half the store: There are so many beautiful and exciting varieties to choose from. However, your budget may not match your enthusiasm. After all, plants are expensive—most of the time, that is.

Related: 3 Keys to Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden

Experienced gardeners know that at the end of the season— once they’ve finished flowering—perennials, bushes, and trees are offered at deep discounts. If you know what species you want and are content to wait until next spring to see their blooms, now is the time to sweep in and take advantage of sale prices.

If you wish to buy plants off-season, here are few things to keep in mind:

1. Avoid Annuals. As they are likely not to last much longer, and since they won’t come back next year, it’s not worth it to buy annuals late in the season. Instead, focus on finding trees, bushes, and perennials that you like. With some care, these selections can be planted any time, so long as the weather isn’t extreme, and most important of all, they can be expected to flourish when warmer weather returns.

2. Be Flexible. At the end of the season, garden centers are clearing old inventory, and their stock has gotten pretty thin. Save yourself some heartache; don’t count on getting that hydrangea in the color you adored four months ago. Approach off-season sales with flexibility and open-mindedness, and you’ll no doubt find many things that would work well in your garden.

3. Dole Out the TLC. After a summer spent in a pot at the nursery, any plant you buy now is probably going to be stressed and root-bound. Before putting your purchase into the ground, detangle and trim its roots. (Depending on the extent to which you trim the roots, it may be necessary to restore balance by pruning the top of the plant as well.) Remember to water liberally until all or most signs indicate the plant has been successfully established.

So don’t miss the opportunity to shop at the nursery off-season, or to stalk the sale rack at your local home improvement retail chain store. With prices slashed by 50% or more, you can afford to take some chances!