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Buy out of season plants
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Although the bulk of gardeners head to the nurseries in Spring to start planting, better bargains can often be found in Summer and Fall when nurseries need to get rid of their excess stock. Some plants can be found in the off-season for a tenth of their normal retail price.
To help them live (and thrive) until Spring arrives, you can trickle-irrigate them cheaply and with minimal water, using a can or milk bottle with a tiny hole poked in the base. Set this up so it can drip onto the plant, watering it slowly over time. You'll need to re-fill the container periodically, but it's a pretty low maintenance way to keep the plant alive and well until the next season. Another incentive for buying plants in the Fall: it gives them time to grow roots, making them more resistant to Summer heat.
If you're not sure what plants can be sustained from Fall to the following Spring, be sure to check with your salesperson for advice or visit LOZO's list of gardening resources.