This weekend is the traditional start of plant sale season in Minnesota and there are dozens of them being held around the state. Check the special listings in the May/June issue of Northern Gardener magazine or the website at the Minnesota State Horticulture Society for sales near you.
Plant sales are typically sponsored by garden clubs, Master Gardener groups or organizations that hold them as a fundraiser, such as the massive Friends School Plant Sale, which will be held this weekend at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Many sales include plants dug from the gardens of experienced gardeners or started indoors by gardeners who enjoy starting seeds. Plant sales are a terrific way to add to your garden and save money at the same time. Plus, they are just plain fun!
Here are a five tips for making the most of your local plant sale.
- Ask questions. The people sponsoring the sale are usually very experienced gardeners and they love to share their knowledge. When you are choosing plants be sure to ask about the sun/shade requirements of the plant, as well as bloom time and watering needs. Don’t be afraid to ask if the plant is an aggressive spreader, if you don’t have a lot of room.
- Bring cash or check. While some large sales will offer the option to pay with a credit or debit card, many do not. Be ready with cash or a checkbook to purchase your finds.
- Prepare to haul your plants. People have been known to go crazy at plant sales, so be prepared to take home lots of plants. A tarp in your trunk or the back of your vehicle will keep things neat when you haul your plants home. Also don’t forget to give your purchases a good watering when you get home and try to get them in the ground or a container as soon as possible.
- Get there early. If you have something specific in mind—a type of lily, a special hosta—get to the sale early. Because the plants are usually donated, numbers may be limited.
- Come back late. If you have a lot of space to fill and a limited budget, consider coming toward the end of the sale. Selection will be smaller, but the planners usually do not want to haul their plants back home. Start haggling — you may get a great deal at the plant sale.
Finally, if you don’t find what you are looking for, do not despair. Our local nurseries and garden centers are filled to the brim now with pretty annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. If you are an MSHS member, your discount card will make garden center shopping a bargain, too.