Hundreds expected to attend plant sales in Manatee this weekend

MANATEE -- Those lucky enough to have a green thumb, or anyone dreaming of developing one, can choose between two popular events that will certainly appeal to their passion for horticulture and gardening.

On Saturday, both the Serenoa chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, in collaboration with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, and Manatee County IFAS Extension office will hold plant sales. Each event is expected to draw hundreds.

The Native Plant Society and Sarasota Bay Program will host its 11th Annual Native Plant Sale from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Sweetbay Nursery, 10824 Erie Road, Parrish.

Just a few miles south, the annual fall Manatee County Extension Master Gardeners' plant fair will take place between 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the extension office at the county fairgrounds at 1303 17th St. W., Palmetto.

Both sales will offer a wide selection of plants, including native plants and trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, ornamental grasses, blooming wildflowers, herbs and vegetables.

The Native Plant Sale, which will feature 300 species of plants, trees and grasses, was previously held at Longwood Run Park on University Parkway, but was relocated to provide a more centralized facility. Proceeds from the sale will go toward providing funds for community organizations and school programs to grow native plants.

"Our whole mission is based on education," said Karen Fraley, education director of the Serenoa chapter.

Plants that attract butterflies are expected to be among the top sellers at the master gardeners' sale, where the first 50 customers will receive native seedlings.

Sharon Kreuger, a master gardener for six years, has attended the last four fall plant sales. Though its the fall season, she said there's still time left to plant and grow plants.

"It's a good time to purchase," she said. "You've got a good two months to get them into the ground. We do it around this time to have people excited about getting in their gardens because it's a nice time to get outside."

Both sales will include an information booth for shoppers and gardening tools.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.