Help with a plant sale! ... need ideas!

keeker(z4 WI)January 29, 2005

Hello Gardeners!

I am wondering if anyone out there has had any experience in running a plant sale. Tips and tricks? I am thinking about running one for a fundraiser for our little Catholic school here in Wisconsin around May. I am going to ask parents, church members and community members to donate or contribute plants as well.I am planning on growing some seedlings and have kids grow plants at school. I thnk I will ask for people who are crafty to help build birdhouses/feeders and have students make some as well. I think if I get good participation (huge) it might work and raise some money. I know I spend a lot on plants and I know there are a lot of other gardners and wanna be gardners who buy a lot in spring. What do you all think? I posted here not to sure where else to ask.



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springcherry(6/7 Philly,PA)


I did a plant sale for my church last fall. What I have found is the old nursery truism -- people do like stuff that is in bloom at the moment. They also like stuff that feels like a bargain. Other than that I encourage you to do it, it can be a rewarding experience, and not just in terms of the money raised. It also streangthens the community that puts it together. One of the women who was a really big help is now working for another parishoner who gave alot of plants. Its a way for people to form ties based on a common interest.

Good luck

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 9:38AM
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You might try posting this on the new(ish) Master Gardeners forum. A lot of MG's run plant sales, so might be game for sharing tips. You might run a search first of the forum in case someone has already asked the question......Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 1:05PM
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keeker(z4 WI)

Thanks for the ideas and support. I have been checking around on the kids and gardening site. I've got some ideas from other threads on that. I think the idea of checking with my local Master Gardening program for any people who would like to help, especially if they need community hours. I will try the Master Gardening forum next. Thanks!
It is nice when you get the community involved. I just hope it's worth the time and EFFORT! I guess I won't know till I try.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 2:33PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

my friend runs a plant sale for a fund raiser too. we start tons of seedlings in flat trays. and then we transfer them to paper cups for individual sale. she also collects as many of those flat cardboard trays (mini-boxes) so people can use those to carry their selections at the sale. for seedlings, its helpful to have a picture of the adult plant for people to see.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2005 at 1:20PM
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Herbalynn(Oregon, 7-8)

I have worked at plant sales, and have these tips to offer. Take what you like and leave the rest :o)

1.If possible, mark plants with common and botanical names.

2. Use color coded stickers and have a chart, ie: red sticker 50 cents, blue sticker $1, yellow sticker $5

3. Have a good garden reference book handy, so people can look up plants they aren't familiar with (we use Sunset Western Garden book)

4. Advertise a couple weeks in advance, by putting flyers up where ever possible.

5. Have a drawing to win a prize. We put together a Gardeners Basket, with gloves, trowel, soaps, seeds, tee shirt. Drew in alot of people, who put there name in the drawing, then bought some plants.

6. Have plenty of water available. Plants will droop by afternoon, and so will workers if not re-hydrated.

Those are some simple, yet important ones that came to mind. Good luck! Lynn

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 10:53AM
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Kathy547(z8 AR)

I have also been thinking about having a plant sale as a fundraiser for my Girl Scout troop. What great ideas! I think it would be a good idea to have a picture with growing advice/requirements, etc. for each plant, if possible. You might also think about collecting seeds & making cutsy seed envelopes & sell the seeds. Maybe with something like "Gathered w/ love from the kids of Whatever Church".

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 4:10PM
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I started winter sowing plants last year, and by mid-May, when I took extras to our regional plant swap, I had tons that were a happy, healthy 3-4" tall. I transplanted 2-3 into sawed-off 16oz styrofoam cups and they looked pretty impressive. Could have easily sold for $1. Malva, cerinthe, scabiosa, forget-me-nots, four o'clocks were all quick starters that put on some healthy growth by mid-May here in central Ohio, and all bloomed my mid-summer.

The benefit of winter sowing is the very high germination rate, the low planting-out death rate -- and the fact that the seedlings don't take up a lot of time and room indoors. Makes the cost per plant for you much cheaper!

I think the reference book is a great idea. If you have a lot of a particular type of plant, you might want to find a picture of that plant in bloom, blow it up in color, and post it next to those pots. In case they've never seen cerinthe, or can't picture your malva, for example.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 1:07PM
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judeth_ann(Z8 PNW)

Plant sales are fun, I have helped several times. One thing that upset me was the folks who put in plants that HAD NO ROOTS. Each year at the end of the day, I took the left over plants home. I have a good basement for growing plants and I noticed some needed replanting and some were wilting fast -- they had just been stuck in the dirt. Good Luck

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 11:06PM
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pardalinum(z8 PNW)

Count on needing a lot of help. People with pickup trucks are particularly useful for moving large quantities of plants to and from the site. Plan far enough ahead to secure a site for the sale and any liability insurance that may be applicable. Maybe you can hold it in your church parking lot and be covered. Have volunteers work in shifts and have at least two people manning it at all times. Have someone scheduled to pick up and remove excess cash a few times during the day. Make sure you start the sale with an adequate amount of bills/coins to make change. Don't overprice the plants... be competetive with local retailers for the day or folks will move on. Have a calculator or two on hand. Since this is a benefit sale, your newspaper most likely will give you publicity at no cost.

Have a lot of leftover plants? No problem. You can make more money on these by holding an auction the evening of the sale. Your church sounds like the perfect place to host this. Make it a potluck/auction... eat, then bid. There are no leftover plants in this situation because winning bidders are required to also take one or two of the orphans (eg, plants with no roots!). This is how we do it in my garden club and it is hysterically fun! We usually make an extra 200 bucks on our after-auction.

However you choose to do it, good luck!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2005 at 12:14PM
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I do a plant sale every year for our Krewe. A few members like to help and bring plants so I have a few rules.
1) Bring your plants to the float barn (we store our floats in a large wharehouse, has a nice outside area that is fenced) at least one week ahead of the sale.
2) Please label all plants with the names you know.
3) Do not price plants.
4) NO ALOE VERA OR SPIDER PLANTS!! (You can't even give them away!).

*Then I have at least a week to see what is just stuck, unrooted, in pots and can pull it out. It gives me time to mark the plants as to name, care, etc. And to threaten those that ignored #4.
*I make signs for plants I have a lot of, like plumeria or crinums, that list the plant care tips and glue a picture of the plant in bloom on the sign. I'm in the process of making some that I can use over & over again.
*Put the big, showy, blooming plants right by the entrace, or even in the driveway so they attract attention.
*Put the blooming plants behind the same type that aren't in bloom.
*Advertise, and be sure and put in your ad if you have exotic-you'll be surprised at the numer of gardeners who will come out.
*Get some tables, sawhorses, etc to make tables and elevate the plants-they sell better off the ground.
*Mark them cheaper than the nursery, you can't beat places like Home Depot as a rule but you can have stuff they don't.
*Make sure you advertise somewhere that the plants are "local grown" so people know they will do well in your area.
*If you have seedlings that aren't in bloom but you have the plant in bloom, pick the blooms & make a bouquet, put it next to the plants-I sold 30 seedlings of one plant that way.
*If you keep pics of your garden, stick some of those in with the lants, like on the sign or on a stake, to show what they look like growing.
*Have someone, yourself, your garden buddies, available to answer questions.
*Be sure and tell people what the money is for.
*Make deals-if they buy all those spider plants throw in another plant or make them a price they can't refuse.
*Have a TLS pile, the plants that need a little extra, provide information on their care, a picture of what they look like in full glory, cheap price.
*Have fun
*Sell iced bottles of water, munchies-we have a brisket sale at the same time.
*I put my e-mail on the plant tags & that way the buyer can e-mail me with questions-you can provide it to only select buyers too, I do that if I'm lazy that week.
*Make and sell seed packets too-you can print the pics on the computer onto the paper & fold your own packages. I found a place on line, can't remember where, to make them from a regular sheet of paper you cut in 1/2 & fold, works great.
*Take a chair, at some point you may actually get to sit down!!
*Get someone to play cashier, that way you can spend more time answering questions & selling plants.
*Empty pots sell really well also. One of the Krewe members painted clay pots one year, they just held plain old plants but were a big hit.
*People like plants their grandmother grew, that you don't think anyone would want (like bananas-we sold every one we had!), easy to grow, house plants, exotic stuff, you name it.
*Have fun! One year a little old lady brought me some plants! I gave her a plumeria! So you might get to do a trade too!
Good luck and good gardening. Tally HO!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2005 at 9:41PM
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