Get ready for fall planting projects at Arboretum plant sale

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 3, 2018

By Patricia R. Drackett, Director and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture
The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

As I arrive at our service road gate each morning, I see that the berries on the beautyberry shrub (Callicarpa americana) growing nearby are becoming more and more brilliant. Their color is such a bold one in the landscape, a bright magenta that seems more at home in a child’s crayon box than in nature.

Gardeners have a joyful opportunity to design with color in the landscape. Some like to include plants with unusual hues, like the orange and yellows blooms of native flame azaleas (Rhodendron austrinum), or the pink and orange seed pods of wahoo, also called “hearts-a-bursting-with love” (Euonymus americanus).

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On a tour at the Arboretum on Saturday, we talked about the blooms that visitors would be seeing if they return to visit in the springtime. Strolling through the autumn-toned landscape, we imagined the riot of pinks and purples we would experience with the return of spring.

Think about designing your landscape to set a different mood at certain times of the year. In our subtropical climates, for example, you could use plants with warm toned spring blooms – reds, yellows, oranges – in the spring, and plants having “cooler” blooms tones, such as blues, purples, and whites, to help you feel cooler in summer temperatures.

Speaking of cooler, we will soon have excellent conditions for being outdoors to plant new additions in your home landscape. Installing plants in the fall and winter allows for an extended period for root establishment before the warm weather returns.

What better place to find a great selection of Mississippi native plants that enjoy our local climate than at the Crosby Arboretum’s fall plant sale this weekend?  We’re excited to have selected an exceptional variety of native woody trees and shrubs for your upcoming landscape projects.

But before adding new plants to your home landscape, make sure that you have the correct soil and light conditions to support them. If you are making the investment to purchase and plant new species, do all you can to help them thrive rather than having to remove and replace them.

If you don’t know the mature size of the plants you are considering installing, search for this information. It may be on the tag that comes with your plant. However, consult many sources to get a true idea of the plant, not just what the sales tag says.

At the Arboretum’s native plant sale, you’ll find many plant experts and native gardening enthusiasts to help you select the right plants for your own unique site conditions, and to steer you in the direction of appropriate substitutes if you desire a plant that might not be well-suited to your property’s environmental conditions.

Many of the shrubs being offered are good choices for the wildlife garden, such as the beautyberry. This plant can be seen gracing local roadsides, and is an undemanding shrub that is easy to grow in sun or shade. Winterberry holly, sarvis holly, and yaupon holly are also attractive shrubs and dependable berry producers.

Sourwood, catalpa, mayhaw, and sassafras will be available at the sale, as well as red buckeye, red bud, longleaf pine, pawpaw, bald cypress, red maple, and persimmon.

These are only a few of the many selections to be found at the Arboretum’s fall native plant sale. Whatever your passion, we guarantee that if you come, you’re bound to find a few new favorites and pick up some valuable landscape advice as well!

Mark your calendar for our Fall Native Woody Plant Sale this Friday and Saturday, October 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  A floral design workshop with horticulture professor Dr. James Delprince will be held during the sale on Saturday, October 6.

A children’s craft workshop on creating bookmarks and door hangers will be offered Sunday, October 7 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Members’ children $4; non-members’ children $6 (no charge for adults).

Arboretum memberships are currently half price ($22.50 for a family, and $17.50 for an individual) until the end of the year. One benefit of our memberships is that they include reciprocal admission privileges with the American Horticultural Society, allowing you to visit over 300 other U.S. public gardens for free or reduced admission!

Call the Arboretum office at 601-799-2311 to sign up for programs. Our public garden is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 to 5.

See the interactive calendar on our website at and find details on our events on our Facebook page. The Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).