Donna Montgomery can’t bring herself to pick a favorite plant.
“How can I choose? There are so many wonderful plants,” she said, walking from greenhouse to greenhouse, full of volunteers checking plant labels, adding prices, and moving pots to the shopping area at the LSU Agricultural Center Botanic Gardens at Burden.
The East Baton Rouge Master Gardeners Program members began the process of potting and growing more than 7,000 plants of 250 varieties for the April 11 plant sale, to run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the gardens just off the Essen Lane exit for Interstate 10, beside Mary Bird Perkins - Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.
“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Montgomery said, adding that the proceeds will support the Master Gardener Program and will be shared with the Burden Center, funding educational activities like plant health clinics, school gardens, seminars for home gardeners and other programs at Burden.
This year’s sale will also include a variety of gardening accessories donated to the society that will be sold “dirt cheap,” volunteer Cathy Mayer said, with a chuckle.
“We’re calling it our treasures booth, and it’ll have a little bit of everything,” she said.
Davanna Hart, who got the nickname “The Succulents Lady” because of her life-long passion for the plants, has been working with two other members of the Horticulture Society to arrange assorted succulent plants in shallow dishes, all of which will be offered for sale.
“The most expensive one will be about $40, and the price goes down from there, depending on the size,” Hart said.
“I love succulents because they’re survivors. These are plants you can leave on vacation, and they’ll still be alive when you come back and haven’t watered,” she said.
More arrangements of cooking herbs and hanging baskets will also be available for sale.
There will be a wide selection of Coleus varieties in the Coleus Corner.
The plants grow well in Louisiana, Montgomery said, and have an astonishing diversity of textures and colors for the garden. “We will also have Coleus henna, a 2015 Louisiana Super Plant, available,” she said.
Super Plants are picked for their performance in south Louisiana growing conditions, she said.
This year’s sale will include many of the LSU Super Plants such as Senorita Rosalita cleome, Baby Wing begonias, Bandana lantanas, Butterfly pentas, Mesa gaillardia, (‘Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink’) buddleia, also known as the butterfly bush, and Rabbiteye blueberries.
For those who want a preview of the sale, photos of available plants are at www.mgplantsale.com.
Montgomery said a few wagons will be on site for patrons to use, however, there is a limited supply, so shoppers are encouraged to bring their own wagons.
“We’ll have a holding area, too, so even if you don’t have a wagon, you can put your plants in a numbered area assigned to you, keep shopping, and then give your number to a volunteer when you’re ready to check out. You can drive your car right up to load your purchases,” she said.
There will also be someone on hand to diagnose plant health issues for those who can bring a sample of the problem plant.
StoryTime for children will be offered in the rose garden with readings every 30 minutes beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 10:30 a.m. Children can also pot a plant to take home at the children’s booth while parents shop.
Master Gardeners are volunteers of the LSU AgCenter. Montgomery said. Through the Master Gardener classes they receive training and resources from LSU faculty and, in return, volunteer their time to educate the public on many areas of gardening. Applications for the next class beginning in July are due June 10. For more information, contact Bob Souvestre, EBR Extension Horticulturist at (225) 763-3990 or email email@example.com.