I know, I sell plants. So it sounds weird that I would be explaining how to find free plants. But I am a firm believer that everyone needs some green in their home, and with these rising prices caused by the plant-mania of the pandemic, not everyone can afford it. More demand from over seas and even local greenhouse suppliers means that even more common plants are now a bit more expensive.
So before jumping into what plants you can find for free, let's go over the how. You won't find anything about proplifting here (the term used to describe taking cuttings from plant stores), these are legitimate ways to get free plants without stealing or harming the environment. Proplifting is not helpful and can even serve to increase plant prices and hurt local plant shops.
1. Facebook Groups
Local plant swap or buy, sell, trade groups are great places to find people giving away cuttings or trading one cutting for another. You can put out an "In Search Of" (ISO) post or just jump when someone offers out some cuttings. Sometimes you'll even find people giving away completely established plants in exchange for smaller cuttings, soil, or other plant products.
If you're in a city you're likely to find lots of options, however in the country you might not have a plant swap or buy, sell, trade group local to you. If you think there are enough people in the surrounding area you could try to start on yourself or you could sign up for one in a city or town that is close to you or that you visit often. There are also national level swap groups that you can join as well if you don't mind sending out plants in the mail.
2. Kijiji, Craigslist, and Bunz
Similar to with Facebook, you can find plant folks swapping cuttings or giving them away for free. You can also post ISOs so folks can reach out to you and offer you plants for free or trade. Kijiji is a popular Canadian website that tends to be more used that Craiglists, and Bunz is entirely for trades so I definitely recommend both of those. Outside of Canada, Craigslist is popular, but your country might have another popular site for buy, sell, trade that would work better.
3. Local plant meet ups
Often the Facebook groups mentioned above, or local horticulture societies will hold plant meet ups where swapping is a component. Currently, of course, we are in the middle of a pandemic and if your area is anything like mine then you're now in a new wave with another lockdown. That being said, we should see things start to open up during the summer and fall months which would mean the possibility for local plant meet ups!
These meet ups often include a swap or might be entirely a swap. Don't worry if you don't have any plants to swap yet, often people will bring extras so those without plants have something to trade. These swaps can often even have more rare plants, though you would need to be good a bartering to get a hold of one of them if you don't already have something rare to offer. These are incredibly fun and a great way to meet local plant folks!
Now, moving along to plants you can get for free. As I just mentioned you can sometimes find some more rare varieties if you're lucky, but this list will focus on ones you'd likely be able to find on a regular basis.
1. Pothos - Any variety really (with maybe the exception of Cebu Blue and Manjula). These grow quick and people are usually happy to gift them.
2. Begonia - More common varieties of begonia such as Rex begonia types are often given away for free from small leaf cuttings or even whole plants.
3. Heart leaf philodendron - Some philodendron are INCREDIBLY rare and expensive, but if you just want a bit more green in your life then a heart leaf philodendron would be a great one to find!
4. African violet - Often sold at grocery store checkouts, the African violet is a plant that many people have in their collections. It can be propagated from a leaf cutting similar to certain begonia.
5. Succulents - People who like succulents often find themselves with a ton of pups to give away. I might say this is the most common option you'll find available for free followed closely by pothos. Since all it takes is a leaf, it can be easy to propagate these and grow quite the little collection with them!
There are definitely more that you can find, and often even city to city you might see different plants available more often, but these are super common and a great way to grow your collection for free. So go out and green up your space!