Load up on native plants at these upcoming sales

For gardening rookies, one of the rules of thumb in Minnesota is to wait to plant until Mother’s Day. Why? Did you see the snow last week!? Resist the temptation to plant too early, or you risk the cold injuring the new little plants. Later May is great for planting because of relatively consistent rain and warming, sunny days, when the plants have some time to get established before it gets hot and dry. So with Mother’s Day coming up, it’s prime time to get things ready and plan out your plant shopping list. Ours will include lots of native plants.

Why native plants? Because they provide valuable food and habitat for native butterflies, birds and other wildlife. They also have deep roots that soak up stormwater, break up compacted soil and help runoff infiltrate into the ground. These deep-rooted plants help keep polluted runoff out of our stormsewers and away from the Mississippi River.

Buyers at a plant sale.
The Hennepin County Master Gardeners Plant Sale in May 2016.

Native plants are plants that were here before we were, and are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions. These plants are highly beneficial to native pollinators, as local bee and butterfly species depend on native plants to meet their unique food and habitat needs.

Because they’re better than non-native plants at soaking up stormwater, native plants are also more tolerant of drought conditions. They can provide an attractive, eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to traditional lawns and landscapes. They typically require less water and fertilizer, and are more resistant to pests and diseases than non-native plants.

The MWMO’s Stormwater Park and Learning Center is an example of a site that has been landscaped with native plants. Many, if not most, MWMO projects utilize native plants where new landscape designs are needed. Native plants are also an ideal choice for raingardens.

If you’re looking for specific plants, most of the sales offer plant lists. Note that some require you to place your orders ahead of time, and some only take cash or check.

Upcoming plant sales

Pasque flower
Pasque flower.
Monarch butterfly on goldenrod
A Monarch butterfly on goldenrod.
Bumblebee on wild bergamot
A bumblebee on wild bergamot.

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