You've Heard TikTok's Girl Math And Boy Math, But What About Garden Center Math?

If you've chanced upon your TikTok feed in the last few months, you've probably felt inundated by several videos tagged "girl math." The idea is a tongue-in-cheek way to justify questionable financial decisions (and big purchases!) in arguably misconstrued terms or by giving into cognitive (present) biases. For instance, if you've dropped cash rather than paid via card, the bought item is "free," as is any product that costs less than $5. The trend soon devolved into boy math, gay math, Black math, and the like, giving every group a chance to roast (yet validate) their financial decision-making. So, to no one's surprise, gardeners jumped in on the trend, too! After all, don't we all need ways to excuse our overspending? The videos don't disappoint, either.

Cedar Rim Nursery coined the girl math trend's garden offshoot "garden center math," and we're here for it. In this unique take, they spin narratives of how buying things off the clearance rack is free. The same goes for buying seeds, perennials, and bulbs since those yield manifold returns over successive years for an insignificant price.

Value beyond price tags

Since money saved is money earned, buying discounted plants during clearance and seasonal sales can almost feel free. Even more so if you're a gifted green thumb and trust yourself to revive a neglected plant. But, if your plant history suggests otherwise, you can bank upon garden center math to defend your bargain buy. Circling back to how purchases under $5 are "free" per girl math, it's easy to explain all the seed packs you bought in bulk but never used. After all, they only cost $3 for 50 seeds on average — unless, of course, they're melons ($10), cantaloupes ($25), or pumpkins ($15). Besides, don't seeds provide utility over multiple years?

Moreover, flower bulbs like tulips, snowdrops, and lilies are "free" since they produce offsets, requiring no additional help (or expensive tools) for propagation. If you can divide and separate plants in the future (think artemisia, creeping lilyturf, daylily, and hosta), that counts as an inconsequential price. Similarly, herbaceous perennials, including larkspurs, phlox, primroses, poppies, and their ilk, cost next to nothing since they keep returning annually. Grasses belong to the club, too. Finally, do we even need to mention food crops and fruits? Apples, blueberries, asparagus, alfalfa, and chives are all "free" since they will cut back on your grocery bill.

More free choices

YouTube user Dig, Plant, Water, Repeat takes garden math a step further, counting off how overwintering annuals should be labeled "free." Given how you can swap out the pain of buying new plants every season for the price of bearing spindly plants during the winter, she isn't completely off the mark. So, it just might be time to hoard and winterize geraniums, euphorbia, or other annuals that can survive your zone's winter.

There's even more garden math at play, and it takes the form of alleged credit. If you've got a budget and can't exhaust it at a convenience store, spending that dough on plants is basically free. Want to sweeten the deal further? Buy an heirloom variety from the garden center (rare, we know) that would otherwise burn a hole in your pocket thanks to shipping costs. To round it all off, if you want to introduce your kids to the art of gardening, all plants that simplify your teaching moments are free priceless.