Prepared by the Victoria Master Gardeners’ Association
1. Only Your Best: Select the best and showiest plants to pot up. The bigger and healthier the plant, the more money you will raise.
2. Plants: You can split existing plants, dig out seedlings, start seeds in pots, or dig out any extra plants you might have in your garden.
3. Preparation: One secret to bringing great looking plants to sales is to dig them out of the ground gently and pot them up at least a week beforehand. Use clean pots and clean, good potting soil.
4. Prevent Shock: You need to water the area well before you remove the plant. Dig them out with lots of soil around the roots. Make sure no other roots are coming along for the ride. (See Invasives #7)
5. Potting: Use a pot that’s an inch bigger than the roots in each direction. A little slow release fertilizer could be mixed into your potting soil, and the soil should be moist but not wet. Put some soil in a pot, add the plant and put soil around the roots. Tap in gently, but not too firmly. Water well. You might need to add some soil after watering so the plant is as deep as it was in the ground, not deeper.
6. Water, Shade, and Wait: Water and put in a shady spot to recover. After a couple of days, move into the sun for a few hours UNLESS the plant is a shade lover. Tomatoes will love the sun but ease them into it, unless they’ve been in sun already. If a plant droops, keep it in light shade until it perks up. Keep plants moist but not too wet. Remove any extra leaves and old flowers so the plant puts its energy into the roots.
7. No Invasives: Avoid aggressive or invasive plants. An invasive is a plant that’s too vigorous for your needs (will take over your garden and be difficult to get rid of!), or harmful. Examples include Goutweed (Aegopodium, Bishop’s Weed), Ribbon grass (Phalaris), English Ivy (Hedera helix), Daphne (Daphne laureola), several Euphorbia (Fernwool, Robbiae), creeping grasses, Himalayan blackberry (Rubus sp.), Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius). Check out http://bcinvasives.ca/invasive-species/identify/invasive-species/invasive-plants/ or http://mgabc.org/content/grow-me-instead-learn-about-invasives-better-alternatives for more info. and see illustrations below.
8. Weeds: Watch for weed seedlings in the pots and pull them out. Top dress with some of your soil mix, or a bit of clean compost (e.g. Sea Soil) to suppress weeds, hold moisture and make plants look good.
9. Presentation: Wipe the outside of pots. Label with plant name and whether they like sun or shade. Use both “common” and Latin (botanic) names if you can. It’s easy to match one with the other online, or in the Sunset Western Garden Book or other reference.
10. One Last Look: Nip off broken or wilted leaves. If the plant is looking droopy or going yellow at sale time, keep it at home. (If it recovers, you can donate it to another sale or trade with a friend). Most of the plants will be in full sun at the sale so make sure there’s water available to keep them looking good. Don’t bring anything to a sale that appears sick or spindly. Good luck!