Hold on and gain your breath. Before you discount this idea from the beginning simply from the title, bear with me on this one and know that this does work. Most people have to step out of their comfort zone and even those of you who consider yourselves outgoing, might feel a bit odd about using a funeral home as free plant source (one of the reasons I left it out of 10 Ways To Get Plants For Free).
One of the reasons that this is an excellent place to get free plants is because almost everyone has the same initial reaction as you did, but they leave it at that and don’t look at it a bit more closely. What that ultimately means is that in a nation where there is virtually competition for everything, this is one area where there is hardly a person doing it.
Almost every town has at least one funeral home and most funerals involve flowers and plants. Years ago, I became aware of how many families left the plants and flowers at the funeral home for a variety of reasons. Probably the most common one is that many people just don’t have the space for all of them in their own home. So, it’s merely a matter of matching up any extra plants with a gardener offering to give them a good home.
Here’s how I went about setting up my local funeral home connection.
The first step is to call the funeral home, introduce yourself and explain your offer to them. You can solve their problem of what to do with the plants, at no cost to them. If they express any interest at all, I leave my name and phone number (and email) with a promise to pick up any plants within 24 hours of a phone call.
If I don’t sense a positive reaction to my offer, I ask to speak to a supervisor or owner and repeat my offer. If that call doesn’t garner some interest in my suggestion, I thank them and move on to the next name on my list.
When I first did this, I’ll admit I was more than surprised to get my first return phone call. At this point, I ask for specific directions as to when and where to pick up the plants and then I follow them to the letter. After the first pick up, I follow up with a note to the funeral home, thanking them and giving them my contact information again.
Once the the plants are at home, I need to do some sorting and decide which plants can go outdoors and which are going to become houseplants. Depending on the time of year and the weather in your zone, you can either get your new plants in the ground or treat the whole batch as house plants until you can safely plant them outside.
There may be a few plants in the bunch that have seen better days by the time you get them home. This is nothing to fret about. You can add the plant to your compost pile, put the soil in your container of potting mix and clean up the pot so you can put it back to use.
All in all, you stand to gain many plants for very little effort. It’s all a matter of getting over that first hurdle most people have about dealing with a funeral home.