7 ways to get your garden ready now, including this can’t-miss Spring Plant Sale, April 8-9

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Man holding a plant at the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens Spring Plant Sale
Head to the Spring Plant Sale to get your garden ready. (Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens)

Now that we’re having near-perfect weather here in Birmingham, it’s time to get your garden ready for spring planting. Whether you’re longing for the beauty of flowers or the tasty goodness of fresh veggies, Molly Hendry and Dr. Tyler Mason, both experts with the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens (BBG), have some great tips. Here’s what they recommend, including the Spring Plant Sale—open to members of the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens Friday, April 8 from 10AM to 5:30PM, and to the public Saturday, April 9, from 8AM to 2PM.

1. Stock up at the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Spring Plant Sale April 8-9

Woman with plants at the Friends of BIrmingham Botanical Gardens Spring Plant Sale
Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens Plant Sale. (Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens)
  • What: Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Spring Plant Sale—the nonprofit’s largest plant sale fundraiser of the year
  • When: Members-only sale Friday, April 8, 10AM-5:30PM | Public access Saturday, April 9, 8AM-2PM
  • Where: Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Formal Lawn, Hill Garden, 2612 Lane Park Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223
  • Bring: folding carts + wagons, plus your gardening questions
  • Shop: hundreds of varieties of plants specially selected for our region by the Friends’ volunteer growing groups, including:
    • Ferns
    • Heirloom vegetables
    • Herbs
    • Natives
    • Perennials
    • Trees + shrubs
    • Tropicals + houseplants
  • Prices: $3-$80

“With dozens of expert gardeners on hand to offer suggestions for selecting plants and advice on planting, it’s a wonderful opportunity to grow your green thumb while also supporting this urban oasis and helping us grow a greener tomorrow.”

Tom Underwood, Executive Director, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

2. Make it beautiful

tulips at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens
These tulips in the Southern Living Garden are sooo beautiful. (Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens)

“One of the first things to think about this growing season is what to plant in your garden to enhance its beauty. Take a look back at your notes from last year and see if there are any garden spots that need tweaking. Maybe you need something to fill a bloom gap mid-season, or perhaps you found a plant you think might be the perfect solution to that dry shade under a tree. One of the most exciting parts about creating a garden is that there is always something you can plant each year to add to the display throughout the seasons!”

Molly Hendry, Associate Director of Gardens Support, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

3. Nourish your body

indoor herbs growing in containers
Move your garden inside and have your own collection of herbs on your windowsill. Bon appetit! (Christine Bird / Shutterstock)

“One of the most beautiful parts of our gardens is that they allow us to enjoy not only their beauty, but also their bounty! What are some herbs you would like to have right out your back door to incorporate into your summer cooking? Are there heirloom varieties of vegetables you love but can’t find? Whether you have a full-size vegetable patch or just a few pots, your garden is ripe with opportunities to nourish your body.”

Molly Hendry

4. Create a haven for pollinators

bee on native swamp sunflower
Bee on native swamp sunflower. (Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens)

“While your garden is nourishing you, it is also providing a haven for other creatures like pollinators! Our gardens provide them with resources like pollen and nectar as well as water and shelter. Think about incorporating some native plants this season. Not only do they provide beauty and thrive in our climate, but they also play a crucial role in the wider habitat.” 

Molly Hendry

Once you’ve made your garden beautiful, it’s time to plant some veggies.

5. Use pelleted seed

Pelleted seeds
Pelleted seeds are covered with a white coating. (iStock)

“Use pelleted seed (where available) to make seed handling easier. The seeds are coated with an inert clay material. Be sure to maintain consistent moisture when using pelleted seed to improve germination rates.”

Dr. Tyler Mason, Director of Education and Visitor Experience, Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

6. Use a temperature-controlled heat mat

Plants in greenhouse with heat mat
There’s a heat mat underneath these plants. (Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens)

“Improve seed germination rates by using a temperature-controlled heat mat. Vegetable seeds such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant respond positively to soil temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Dr. Tyler Mason

7. Harden your plants outside before planting

hardening plants outside
Hardening plants outside before planting reduces stress on the plants. (Shutterstock)

“Always harden your plants outside for about a week prior to planting to help reduce transplanting stress. Place a floating row cover, or a light sheet, over the plants at night and remove during the day. Gradually exposing the plants to unfiltered sunlight and wind will help harden the plants and improve their resilience.”

Dr. Tyler Mason

Bonus tip: get your soil right for container gardening

You want to use a soil-based mix for growing flowers and veggies in containers. The perfect balance? 1:2 top soil to potting soil mix.

Ready to get your hands in the dirt this spring? Head to the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Spring Plant Sale April 8-9 to stock up on what you need to get started, and be sure to bring your folding cart or wagon!

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

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