Hundreds of parliamentary office plants held hostage in Ottawa's budget wars have been liberated by one green-thumbed NDP staffer, CBC News has learned.

Now the anonymous benefactor just has to decide what to do with them.

The plants had been rounded up by Public Works after the department decided last year it would no longer pay to maintain plants in government buildings. Departments were given the option to buy the plants and maintain them on their own, or to allow Public Works to auction them off.

This included all the plants on Parliament Hill as well as those in MPs' offices and the offices of the Official Opposition.

The NDP took action last week, hiding dozens of plants from Public Works people.

Parliament Hill plants up for auction

The federal government's surplus site is auctioning the plants in lots of about 100 to as many as 175 plants. (

But after an internal memo from the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms, it became clear further action would be needed.

So a lone NDP staffer decided to take matters into his own hands.

The staffer quietly went onto the government’s auction site and bid on hundreds of plants, including 140 in Centre Block, some of which had been in Conservative MPs' offices. Other offers are pending.

On average, the plants cost about a dollar apiece, but must be bought in lots of about 100 to 175.

While he doesn’t want to be publicly identified, the NDP staffer did say this: “The war on plants is another example of the failed Conservative policies that we are fighting on a daily basis. If the Conservatives want to keep the plants in their offices, we are contemplating the possibility of leasing them, watering not included.”

The only problem with the green strategy is that the plants have to picked up in one lot and removed from the buildings, unless the NDP can come up with an alternative plan. Apparently, all options are on the table, including giving the plants to employees, selling them back to MPs or moving all of them into NDP offices.

At least one Conservative minister's office has already approached the NDP about purchasing their plants.

The party isn't saying much on the record, but a senior NDP source offered this quote from writer and composer Ned Rorem: “Plants do not wish to rule the world like us — they have higher concerns.”