How to shop a plant sale.

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Spring weather is here – and so are plant sales. To celebrate, here are some tips for shopping a plant sale.

  1. Know where you need plants. This helps you target one area of a sale instead of distracted wandering (blooming plants are like puppy videos – totally hijacking your focus).
  2. Pack the car the night before: tarp or plastic to protect the car, a hat to protect you, umbrella because you will not be daunted by rain, trug or wagon to help you carry plants, water and energy bar, wet wipes, small plant book or a charged smartphone for reference, wish list, notebook (or phone).
  3. Bring photos of your garden. Many plant sales have horticulturists, Master Gardeners, or seasoned gardeners who are generous with their knowledge. What a bonus! Help them to help you by noting all of the characteristics of an area you are shopping for (is it shady and when, is there a tree nearby, how dry, what plants are already thereā€¦?). A picture is truly worth a thousand words, so bring a few photos to help explain.
  4. While you are reviewing your landscape, look at the plants that were proven performers for you. Can you divide those and fill space with what you know works well? Cha-ching – you just freed up some of that garden sale budget for other plants. If one aster thrives, then add a different variety this year.
  5. Grow your own produce. Tomatoes and peaches are top of mind, but can be discouraging to grow. Cherry tomatoes, figs, thornless blackberries, and blueberries are much easier. Easiest of all and deer and drought resistant: oregano and rosemary.
  6. Buy three of the same plant that sounds great. It is so easy to grow a ‘collector’s garden’ – a gentle term for those who want to try one of everything. Three or more plants can make an impact in a landscape.
  7. Do not leave the plants in the car. If you have to run an errand on the way home, shade them with an old sheet, crack the windows, etc. Get them home, remember to water them and keep the shade lovers in the shade.
  8. Spray every new plant with deer repellent. Deer love to taste test new plants, so spray your plants, whether they stay in a container or are planted.
    All of these tips work when you are going to your local garden center too. Please do support your local garden center and your local plant sales.

Connie Cottingham working at a plant sale.

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