Plant Sales: Considerations + Advice

Oct 9, 2017

Dear Friend and Gardener,
I want to tell you about one of the most terrifying moments in the gardening season for me. PLANT SALES! “Why is that something to be scared of? It’s just a plant sale!”

Just a plant sale, heh. Plant sales can both be thrilling and scary. A car-full of rare gems could instantly take all of your pocket money. Stress levels rise as you rush around the sale searching for that one plant on your wishlist. I can relate.

Even though a plant sale might not be a life-altering event, it will be more enjoyable with a game plan. Something to organize my thoughts and make them flow logically without the stress of lat-minute planning. Today I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on how I successfully approach a plant sale and come away with a feeling of accomplishment.

1. Money Matters

The first thing that I consider (before even daring to look at a plant availability list), is funds. How much money can I afford to spend on the sale? I used to make the mistake of reading what plants are available first, and then s a budget. That never works. I end up basing my budget off of what plants I want, and not what I can actually afford.

Money is also very hard to come by for me, being a broke teenager with little funds. Some plant sales, I can’t afford to buy anything. That’s when I ask the salesperson at the booth I want to buy a plant from, “Can I trade you for a piece of this?” Sometime, it works, and I walk home with a free plant. Other times, it doesn’t. But it never hurts to try.

Also, take gas costs into account. It’s not unusual for me to head to the other end of the state for a great sale, but I have to consider something. Is it really worth it to drive a great distance for a plant that I could get cheaper (than the cost of gas + the plant) online? Let’s move on to my second consideration.

2. Plant List

It’s not uncommon for local plant sales to release a plant availability list either through Facebook or their website. When the list comes through, I immediately print it out and look it over. After I’ve set my budget, I can go through and highlight some of my favorites, and write them down on a notepad, noting which ones I want most. That way, if my plant list exceeds my budgetary limits, I can always choose the ones that I want most.

3. On The Day Of The Sale

Plan to arrive early. As early as possible. On my very first plant sale, I arrived at 11:00am, and the sale ended at 12:00pm. To my disappointment, all of my favorite plants were either extremely picked through or sold out. I usually try arrive at the plant sale at the starting time. In my region, the average plant sale starts around 8:00am, which gives me plenty of time to get up and ready before I have to leave.  I have seen some sale that start as early as 7:00. But my proximity to the sale might also dictate what time I’m able to arrive.

Once you arrive, do NOT be seduced by the huge array of beautiful plants and friendly gardeners trying to sell them. That is a HUGE mistake. Last year, I went to a large plant sale (down in Lafayette, Louisiana) searching for tropical plants for my exotic garden. My budget was set at $30, but by the time I was finished gawking at all of the rare plants, I walked out of the sale with $125 worth of plants. That was my last plant sale for a while.

One last tip: enjoy yourself! There are lots of gardeners who would love to talk plants with you. Take advantage of that! Talk about a problem area in your yard. Maybe they’d be able to suggest a plant to grow there. Ask them any question that you have about the plants being sold. They’d love to answer you!

Quick Recap:

  • Consider your budget
  • Decide what plants you want
  • Arrive early
  • Ask questions
  • Have Fun!

Edit: I attended the fall Plantfest in Baton Rouge, LA and walked out of the sale having spent exactly $100. Better budgeting than last year! 😉 Not everyone will have as large of a budget as I do, but all you can do is plan with what you have and ALWAYS overplan and overexpect what you will spend.

Happy Gardening and Plant Shopping!

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  1. LaLennoxa says:

    Someone after my own heart! I love plant sales, and am ever joyful that I am at the stage where I can set aside a fair amount of money for my indulgence. Tough, honestly, the plant sales that are the best are the local gardener-to-gardener ones, which are often dirt cheap. I map out my favourite plant sales and need to prioritize – because here, they often happen over the same weekend(s), starting with the big Victoria Day weekend here in Canada (mid-May). My absolute favourite plant sale I won’t share the details about with anyone – that’s my secret! But the other ones I am happy to 🙂


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