A Native Plant Sale shopper admires pots of prairie grasses

A Native Plant Sale shopper admires pots of prairie grasses (Photo: Kathy King)

Since 1990, the Friends of the Arboretum Native Plant Sale in early May has provided local gardeners with a reliable source for native plants and expert guidance. All species offered at the sale are native to Wisconsin and, once established, require minimal care. No plants are dug from the wild. All are grown in commercial nurseries that follow best practices for preventing spread of disease and pests such as the jumping worm.

The plant sale is open to all. Proceeds from the Native Plant Sale help FOA support the Arboretum’s work and mission. Friends of the Arboretum receive a discount on all plant purchases.

About the Native Plant Sale

2022 Native Plant Sale

In a typical year, the sale is held at the Arboretum on the day before Mother’s Day and offers more than 200 species of native plants suitable for a variety of soil and light conditions. The 2020 tent sale was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. For 2021, as the pandemic continued, Friends of the Arboretum created a web store for customers to order native plants and held curbside pickup events in May. This system allowed us to sell about 20,000 plants – more than in any year before.

Friends of the Arboretum staff are working with Arboretum staff and volunteers to develop plans for the 2022 Native Plant Sale. It will probably feature a robust advance-order, curbside-pickup sale as well as a return of the walk-in-and-browse tent sale.

To get the latest news about the plant sale:

  • Subscribe to arbNews to receive the Arboretum’s email newsletter (once or twice a month)
  • Be a Friend of the Arboretum to receive the Friends’ quarterly print newsletter NewsLeaf, which includes information about the plant sale
  • Join the FOA Native Plant Sale Facebook group for news about the sale and to ask questions or share information about gardening with native plants

The 2019 plant list and Friends of the Arboretum plant information sheets provide more information about plants that have been available in recent years.

Jumping worm precautions: The Arboretum has followed best management practices for the jumping worm (Amynthas spp.) invasive species since it was discovered here in the fall of 2013. In coordination with Arboretum staff, the Native Plant Sale organizers have also taken preventive measures against spreading the invasive worms.

Benefits for Friends

Friends receive information about the Native Plant Sale, including preliminary plant lists, in the quarterly NewsLeaf newsletter. Learn more about how to be a Friend and contribute online.


Friends of the Arboretum gratefully acknowledges in-kind contributions from the following businesses in support of the 2021 Native Plant Sale:

  • Agrecol Native Nursery
  • Northern Sunset Perennials
  • Winterland Nursery, owned and operated by McKay Nursery Company


The Native Plant Sale began with volunteers selling plants in the Arboretum Visitor Center basement. Most plants at that time were donated by local native plant gardeners. Customers appreciated the wide assortment of ferns, grasses, and wildflowers of the forest and prairie. The sale has become a beloved community tradition drawing more than a thousand customers to shop in a big tent on the Arboretum lawn on a Saturday in early May. Expert advice and hard-to-find native species have been hallmarks of the Native Plant Sale throughout its history.