2024 Sale Hours
- Friday, May 11: 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Saturday, May 12: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Sunday, May 13: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (all remaining plants 1/3 off)
What's Was New for 2023
- We recommended but did not require masks (N95 masks encouraged, especially inside the Grandstand building).
- We used the wristband system as it was pre-Covid-19. See Getting In (below) for details.
- On the sale floor, we adjusted a few things since 2022, see the map. Highlights: The tallyers and cashiers are back inside the Grandstand where they were in 2019 and earlier. The entrance is back through the big door by the Herb section. Perennials, now including Bulbs & Bareroots, are in the fenced-in outdoor area of the sale. Changes we made in 2022 that continue: The Info Desk and Volunteer Desk are outside the building in tents where they were in 2022. Everybody liked the wider aisles, so we kept those. Look for the temporary plant parking inside near the entrance to the checkout line: If you need to leave your plants and get more, you can park them (with your name) in this volunteer-supervised area.
- There were more than 250 new plant varieties: 65 annuals, 82 perennials, 24 shrubs or trees, 28 unusual and rare plants, 19 fruit and nuts, and 17 vegetables. Plus more in climbers, miniatures, and herbs.
- Articles featured in the 2023 catalog: A profile of Green Earth Growers, one of our long-time local partners... details on growing your own mushrooms... meet some of the middle school students who make the plant sale happen... and we encouraged everyone, more than ever, to BYO boxes.
Wristband system in use each day for admission
Shoppers are given a paper wristband as they arrive at the Wristband Booth in the Garden Fair, one per person.
Wristbands are distributed starting at:
- Friday: 6:30 a.m. (sale opens at 9:00)
- Saturday: 8:00 a.m. (sale opens at 10:00)
- Sunday: 9:00 a.m. (sale opens at 10:00 — all remaining plants 1/3 off)
Once the sale opens, you will enter the building in a group of other people who have the same number on their wristbands.
If you arrive early, plan to visit our outdoor Garden Fair after picking up your wristband.
If you have been waiting elsewhere or visiting the Garden Fair, please plan to be near the entrance at the west end of the Grandstand in time to line up with your group. Don’t worry…we’ll have volunteers to help.
Please note: If you have friends arriving later than you or parking the car, they will be given a wristband number at the time of their arrival, not yours. This system makes the waiting process fair for everyone, and we appreciate your cooperation.
If you leave the area and return after your group has entered the building, you may go into the sale with the next group that’s admitted.
Getting to the sale
- From north, south and east (including from I-94 or Highway 36), take Snelling Avenue to the main gate of the State Fair and find your way through the Fairgrounds to the Midway lot area.
- From St. Paul west of the Fair, take Cleveland Ave. to Commonwealth, which turns into Dan Patch Ave. on the Fairgrounds. The Midway can be accessed from Dan Patch Ave. (Note: for 2023, Cleveland Avenue is closed for construction between Larpenteur and just north of Commonwealth, so these instructions are only useful if you are coming from the south or due west.)
Metro Transit buses and bike access
- The best gate access to use is Gate 9 on the south side of the Fairgrounds. It is adjacent to the off-road bike path on Como and next to the Route 3 bus stops on Como Ave, two blocks from the A Line bus stops on Snelling.
- The Fairgrounds are served by the 3 bus on Como Avenue and the A Line rapid transit bus on Snelling Avenue.
- Bus schedules, route planning from where you are, and Next Ride are available here: www.metrotransit.org
Parking and admission
Admission to the Plant Sale is free.
Parking at the State Fair is free. There is a large lot southwest of the Grandstand (it’s the Midway during the Fair), and it’s legal to park on non-posted streets. There is bike parking at the east end of the Midway lot.
Parking for people with handicapped hangtags is in the east-most part of the Midway parking lot nearest to the Wristband Booth and also south of the Garden Fair along Carnes Avenue. Watch for the signs. Please call us at 651-621-8930 or email info@Friends SchoolPlantSale.com with any questions about accessibility or additional accommodations.
Going through the Sale
We recommend wearing an 95-type mask over your nose and mouth inside the Grandstand. The sale's aisles are wider than in the past and the number of shoppers at any time will be somewhat lower than pre-2020 as well.
Keep track of your purchases as you go through the sale. You can pick up a shopping list form at the door, or if you like to plan ahead, search plants on our website and save them to your My Plant List, then print out your list and bring it along. You can also hand-write your list ahead of time on our printable form (pdf, 12K). If you bring a list with you, you can cross out anything you don’t buy or change the quantity to your actual purchase as you go through the sale.
We strongly recommend bringing your own cart or wagon to carry your plants. There are some shopping carts available at the sale, but they are in constant use. If you bring a wagon, please label it somehow so it doesn’t get mixed up with someone else’s; and don’t leave your wagon unattended. We love creative carts, but be sure to think about how your cart will function. We can’t allow any sleds, or wagons that are connected together like a train, because they’re hazardous to other shoppers. Here are some ideas from your fellow shoppers.
Temporary plant parking: If you're shopping and need to leave your plants somewhere while you get more, you can park them (with your name) in a volunteer-supervised area near the spot on the sale map where it says Enter Checkout Line.
We encourage you to bring your own flats or trays more than ever (perhaps from a past year). Some shoppers find plastic storage bins work really well because they can be stacked. If you have extra boxes in your garage... bring them along and leave them with us for others to use.
Finding the Plants You’re Looking for
In the sale, the catalog numbers are your best means of locating the plants. Each category (such as Annuals or Perennials) has a letter to begin its catalog numbers (G for Grasses, H for Herbs). Remember — the numbers are assigned alphabetically by the common name we give the plants (for instance, Hollyhock, French, rather than French Hollyhock). Plants beginning with U are in Unusual and Rare Plants. There are subcategories in these sections: Annuals (which starts with Outdoor/Indoor Plants), Climbers, Miniatures, and Unusual — so in those sections, the catalog numbers may not appear to be assigned completely alphabetically, but it's because the plants have been divided into subcategories and then numbered alphabetically.
Plant listings that give the pot size as "bulb" or "bareroot" are located OUTSIDE on shelves near the Info Desk tent.
The Find Plants section of the site is great for searching ahead of time for plants that meet your needs. For instance, you can ask it to show you all the native flowers that are no more than 36" tall with yellow flowers that are good for bees and grow in part sun/part shade, or all the pink perennials with interesting foliage. It's also a good way to quickly find all of the new plants. Check it out when you're making your list!
We will restock plants before we open on Saturday morning if they are marked with the truck symbol.
Keep track of your plants
At the checkouts you will need the plant’s name, its cost, and how many you have. This is important: Shoppers who do not record the cost and quantity for each plant will have to go to the Price Check so they don’t impede those who have recorded the information.
If you have a plant that you cannot identify, stop by the Info Desk under the big ramp outside in front of the Grandstand before getting into the checkout line. All prices must be recorded on your sheet before checkout.
How does it work?
Checkout is a two-step process: Your plants are added up in one area, based on your tally sheet, then you pay at the cashier tables.
We are primarily cashless again this year. You will be able to pay for your plants with check, Apple Pay, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or American Express, or cash. Checks should be made out to Friends School of Minnesota or FSM.
Always write the full price of plants on your tally sheet. On discount Sunday, the one-third discount is taken at the register.
How long does it take?
Be advised that you may have to wait to check out, but as always, we work hard to minimize the wait time. (In fact, if you see a line forming, it may make more sense to wait 10 minutes rather than joining it and making it longer.)
After checkout, you can leave your plants at curbside pickup and return to get them in your car. Please drive slowly and watch for pedestrians. (If you used one of our shopping carts, the cart must be left at curbside pickup and cannot be taken to your car.) Volunteers in orange vests will help.
Volunteer and access our pre-sale.