Sale-related questions

The sale will be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Mothers Day weekend (May 10–12), with the volunteer pre-sale on May 9. It will be held in the Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair. The hours are Friday 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Excluding 2020's canceled sale, the plant sale has raised more money each year. In 2022, it netted about $400,000.

Friends School of Minnesota, a kindergarten through 8th grade Quaker school in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. Friends School is committed to making sure it is financially accessible to any family, regardless of need.

Children 12 and under (when accompanied by an adult) do not need a wristband.

Because many people come at once to shop, the demand for carts is greater than what is available. We encourage everyone to bring their own wagon or other appropriate wheeled item.

At some times, there is no line at all, and at many others, the checkout wait time is not more than 5 or 10 minutes. There are times where the number of people checking out goes up rapidly and causes a line. (One reason this happens is that shoppers see a line forming and decide to get into it right away before it gets longer, thus making the line longer.) We work constantly to decrease the likelihood of a line forming. 

We have found that it is faster to separate the two processes. Therefore, each customer stops at a tallying table where the list that you’ve been keeping is added up, and then the customer moves to a second table to pay.

We accept checks, cash, Apple Pay, and all major credit cards — Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

No. Because you are buying the plants at a competitive local retail price (and sometimes even lower than that), your purchases are NOT tax deductible. However, if you round up the price of your purchase beyond the cost of your plants, that amount would be 100 percent deductible.

The state of Minnesota requires us to charge sales tax because the sale is located at the State Fairgrounds.

No, State Fair policy prohibits dogs inside their buildings, unless it is a trained and qualified service animal as required under ADA.

Website-related questions

If you haven't logged into your account since we updated to the new website in 2023, you have to create a new account. When we relaunched the new website we were not able to import the user accounts OR the shopping lists from the previous site.

Before the new site launched, we emailed everyone who had accessed their list in the last 2 years, letting them know that accounts and shopping lists would not transfer, and to download or print their list so they could refer to it to recreate on the new site. We also sent an email to anyone on our email list, and posted to our Facebook page and group, and had a message on the website itself.

If you have created an account on the website since the new site launched in mid-March 2023 and are having trouble logging in since then, try the password reset. If that does not work, email [email protected].

When viewing your list, you'll see a CLEAR LIST button at bottom right of the page. If you want to keep some of the plants but not others, you can remove plants individually by clicking the trash can icon on the right side of the plant list.

Those are plants that we are not offering in this year's sale. You can remove them by clicking the trash can icon on the right side of the plant list, or leave them on if you want to remember what you got in a past year.

Try dumping the cache in your brower. Your computer is remembering the numbers from last year (because of those darned cookies).

Plant-related questions

The plants will be updated by March 22 for 2024. In general, we update the plants on the Wednesday of the third week in March.

No. We buy the plants wholesale — 80 percent of them from local growers — and sell them retail.

We have done everything we can to make sure they DON'T use neonics. But read the full article on our efforts to eliminate neonics.

Our growers are small businesses, mostly located in eastern Minnesota or western Wisconsin. While some of our plants can be found in regular garden centers, many others are custom-grown for us.

You can find a full explanation here.

We do our best every year to have enough plants for Friday and Saturday. We base the number of plants per variety on the previous year's sales, and restock on Saturday morning if that is possible. However, especially when a plant is new, it's hard to know how much demand there will be.

Basically, it means we did not receive the plants we ordered from the grower. This happens because:

  • The seed did not germinate as expected (some plants are harder to germinate than others)
  • The grower did not receive the seeds or cuttings needed from their supplier (their supplier had a crop failure)
  • The plants were not large enough to sell at our very early sale
  • Some shrubs and perennials, which often are over-wintered outdoors, may not have survived the winter

Some growers let us know ahead of time, while others are not able to do that, or only for some of their plants. We do begin updating the website for crop failures on Monday morning before the sale, adding as many as we can until the sale opens on Friday. 

The crop failure rate has never been higher than 10% of the plant varieties we advertise in the catalog and almost always under 5% in the last 10 years, although we know it seems higher when the plant you wanted isn’t available. We feel the same way when it's a plant we wanted to buy.

Aside from plants we have sold in the past, we try to find out about new and interesting plants from reading the gardening press and talking to gardeners. We are always looking for suggestions of plants to carry. Email your suggestions to [email protected].

Unfortunately, no. Friends School Plant Sale cannot guarantee that any plant purchased from us will survive in the garden, although we are very interested in hearing if you have problems with a certain plant. The cost of giving that type of guarantee on perennials or shrubs, as is done at some local nurseries, is built into that business’s overall price for plants (the price on all of their plants is higher to cover the cost).

After we do inventory and set aside any plants we want to send back to growers to grow larger for next year, all remaining plants are turned over to the Minnesota Green program of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. If you are from a community garden or public garden, you may be able to join. Contact them at [email protected].

Volunteer-related questions

You will receive your pre-sale "golden ticket" by email about a day before the pre-sale, which is on Thursday afternoon and evening, May 9.


Aside from helping to support a terrific school, the main benefit of volunteering is that you can shop at our volunteer pre-sale, which is held Thursday afternoon and evening before the sale opens. It's a fairly relaxed shopping experience and everything is in stock (except crop failures, of course). Volunteers also receive a 50% off coupon to use at the Sunday discount sale (the public gets one-third off).

If you sign up for a job during the sale itself (Thursday afternoon, or any time Friday – Sunday), or afterward for cleanup, it’s pretty likely you’ll be doing the job you signed up for.

If you sign up to do setup, we can’t guarantee you’ll be doing the specific job you signed up for, because setup is pretty fluid. We try to keep the jobs on the published schedule, but it isn’t always possible. We adjust the schedule for the following year based on what happened the previous year, so we hope that each year’s schedule is more accurate.

If you are volunteering any time from Monday before the sale up until Monday morning after the sale, it's likely you will come to the State Fairgrounds and go to the Grandstand. Volunteers on shifts from Tuesday–Sunday check in at the Volunteer Desk tent outside the east door of the Grandstand, while Monday/Monday shift volunteers should look for the coordinators near the center of the building or outside the center doors. If your shift is before or after the sale week days, it’s probably at Friends School, 1365 Englewood Avenue — but check your signup info to confirm these directions!

We have a volunteer parking area. Check your signup emails for details.