Ready-to-go plants and free advice from seasoned growers will be available Saturday at the Des Moines County Master Gardeners Sale.
A wide variety of perennials for sun and shade, annuals, vegetable starts and bulbs — all lovingly nurtured and grown by local Master Gardeners, will be for sale from 8 a.m. to noon at a new location this year, the Des Moines County Extension Office, 1700 W. Mount Pleasant St.
Shoppers will find at least 1,000 house and garden plants, and organizers are anticipating some of the latest trends in plant-buying.
“Succulents and pollinator plants are both very popular this year, as well as renewed interest in houseplants. People are also starting to grow more herbs and veggies, and we will have lots,” said Morgan Hoenig, who is a Master Gardener, an organic vegetable farmer, and local foods specialist with Iowa State Extension and Outreach.
So far, she believes year’s plant sale will have “more varieties of annuals that members have started from seed,” said Hoenig.
“The perennials are starts taken from our yards and gardens and potted up. The annuals are from seeds that members have planted and tended,” she explained.
Many of those plants were grown in Southeastern Community College’s greenhouse.
“We are very fortunate to work with SCC and use their greenhouse. It is a wonderful facility and many members have their seedlings there,” Hoenig said. “Other members grow and pot up their plants at home.”
The gardening experts “use best practices” regarding plant care. “I think we all use the soil and fertilizer we would use in our own gardens,” she said, noting that while some members are organic gardeners, most are not.
The plant sale will offer garden art for some whimsey, “plant markers, garden stones, oriole feeders, and more,” said Hoenig, and also will feature a rummage sale for garden utilities, pots and other necessary items, “Many used tools at great prices. We have a variety of garden tools including post hole diggers, forks, shovels, electric hedge trimmers and assorted hand tools.”
Master gardeners wearing distinctive red face masks will be at the outside plant tables, ready to give advice and answer questions.
Due to social distancing guidelines, the plant sale won’t have workshops this year. Instead, some members have been creating educational videos available for viewing on the Des Moines County Master Gardeners YouTube channel.
“Education is our mission,” said Linda Jones, who joined Des Moines County Master Gardeners in 2005.
The plant sale is a fundraiser each year for the Master Gardeners, which includes 55 active members in Des Moines County. Jones and Susan Stone, an eight-year Master Gardener, estimated the group has gained an additional eight or nine members in the past year.
“We have quite a few new young members,” Stone said Thursday as she secured price and information tags to some of the plants that will be available Saturday.
The uptick may be spurred by the pandemic. Jones noted there has been increased interest in gardening since people have been spending more time at home.
Funds are generated with an educational goal and also are raised to help support several area projects.
Master Gardeners award a scholarship each year to a SCC student in the horticulture or agriculture field. The members support The Herb Garden in Crapo Park, the South Hill Neighborhood Gardens, and the Donation Garden at Homestead 1839, financially and with their labor.
More: Homestead 1839, now an AmeriCorps host site, prepares for 6th growing season
They also provide the two top 4-H Gardening Awards at the Des Moines County Fair.
Hawk Eye reporter Michaele Niehaus contributed to this report.