‘Unique’ plants take center stage at club sale

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Hands flew through the dirt as Amy Conway and Katie Sandlin poked holes in the soil. Faith Conway handed them plugs, and they popped the tiny plants in the holes and patted them in place.

And then they were done, one more tray of six-pack flats ready for the upcoming plant sale on March 31-April 2 and April 7- 9.

Every year, the University of Georgia’s Horticulture Club holds a plant sale as its main fundraising event at its greenhouse complex on Riverbend Road in Athens. This year, according to Amy Conway, the club’s vice president and no relation to club president Faith Conway, they’ll be selling annuals and perennials.

The sale will also include vegetable plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and a few herbs such as basil, oregano and dill. Customers can also pick up trees and shrubs.

“We provide a wide selection of unique plants,” Amy Conway said. “They’re not just your standard basics.”

This year’s variations include tiny edible strawberries and tropical plants.

“This is the first year we’ve had tropical plants,” Faith Conway said. “We divided tropical plants for Dr. [Paul] Thomas. We left him with two of everything, and we took the rest for the sale. It was literally like a jungle when we got in his greenhouse.”

Thomas is a horticulture professor with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The UGA Horticulture Club usually attracts students majoring in horticulture, landscape ground management and landscape architecture, although students in any discipline may join. Students learn how to grow plants from seeds and plugs as well as how to take cuttings and propagate plants. They also grow annuals for the club’s two yearly plant sales.

“This has been the most energetic horticulture club the department has had,” said Thomas, a UGA Cooperative Extension horticulturist. “They’re doing a very good thing.”

For the sale, the club gets many of its plants from wholesale nurseries. “By providing a good, quality plant, we’re helping the community,” Faith Conway said.

The community doesn’t just gain knowledge and exposure to new plant varieties through the students. They also help them by asking interesting – and sometimes challenging – questions about the plants.

“Most people walk in and say to the students, ‘well, I have this spot and it gets shade,’” Amy Conway said. “And we try really hard to fit a plant to their spot.”

The horticulture club’s plant sale will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 31 and April 1 and from 1- 5 p.m. Sunday, April 2. It will be held again from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 7-8 and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 9.

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.