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Pentas, with tiger swallowtail. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Wilma Holley]

Growing Florida-friendly, with Sarasota County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

By Donna Alese Cooke
Residential Horticulture Agent
UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

Over the past 15 years, UF/IFAS Extension Master Gardener Volunteers of Sarasota County have worked tirelessly on an endeavor close to their hearts: their annual plant sale.

Blue curls. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Wilma Holley]

Blue curls. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Wilma Holley]

Master Gardener Volunteers begin in early spring growing Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ plants for the fall fundraiser, collecting cuttings and propagating plants from their gardens. The volunteers can be found each week at our Twin Lakes Park Extension office, nurturing plants and working through the heat of summer and rainy season. They take great care in having available for you that very special, right plant for the right place.

Experienced and beginner gardeners alike flock to the annual plant sale, to shop for a wide assortment of affordable plants that grow best in our area of Southwest Florida.

This year, for the 15th Annual Master Gardener Plant Sale + EdFest—set for Oct. 09 at our Twin Lakes Park office—shoppers will find an impressive collection of different bromeliad and caladium varieties ready to be replanted in their new homes, as well as natives, edibles, herbs, house plants and succulents. Popular landscape plants such as fragrant plumeria, tropical ginger, blackberry lily and cranberry hibiscus will also be on hand.

Zebra heliconia at tropical sage. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Wilma Holley]

Zebra heliconia at tropical sage. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Wilma Holley]

Remember to plant for the pollinators, too. Butterflies will love the milkweed, porterweed, pentas, rosinweed, tropical sage, blue curls and other pollinator-friendly plants that are an eco-friendly addition to any garden.

And if you have gardening or growing questions, just find any Master Gardener Volunteer at the event. Volunteers receive extensive, horticulture-related training designed by the University of Florida, and are a great resource to help you get going or keep growing.

While much of the annual event focuses on plant sales, it also combines two other key aspects. First, proceeds from the sale benefit the Master Gardeners Chapter of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks, which supports a wide range of Master Gardener Volunteer education outreach programs in Sarasota County.

Pentas, with tiger swallowtail. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Wilma Holley]

Pentas, with tiger swallowtail. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Wilma Holley]

Second, the event also features an EdFest open house, which highlights all that UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County has to offer our community.

This year’s event will differ slightly from those in previous years. We are asking you to register for a half-hour shopping window before coming to the plant sale, and to wear a mask so we may follow CDC guidelines for a safe shopping experience.

Join us at the 15th Annual Master Gardener Plant Sale + EdFest. Sarasota County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are ready to help you find that special plant for the right place in your yard. Having the “Right Plant, Right Place” is at the heart of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™. It’s one of nine core principles to the effort, including:: Watering Efficiently, Fertilizing Appropriately, Mulching, Attracting Wildlife, Managing Yard Pests Responsibly, Recycling Yard Waste, Reducing Stormwater Runoff, and Protecting the Waterfront.

To learn more about Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, register for the first session of our upcoming, free, four-part “Growing Florida-Friendly webinar series, which starts Oct. 13. And, adopt the “Nine Principles” for a more environmentally friendly and sustainable landscape.

Learn more about the plant sale event and/or Florida-Friendly Landscaping™: call 941-861-5000 or email sarasota@ifas.ufl.edu.

2 Comments on “Growing Florida-friendly, with Sarasota County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

  1. Hello,
    I see that all spots are taken for the event.
    Will any walk-ins be allowed?

    Thank you,

    • Hi, Linda. This year, we required individuals to register for specific shopping periods at the plant sale, to limit crowd size as a way to help protect the health of visitors, volunteers and staff. As you noted, the event has filled to capacity. You might wish to check occasionally, though, in case another customer cancels. Thanks!

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