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Where to Find Native Plants in WNC and Upstate SC

honeybee on butterfly weed
A honeybee gathers nectar on butterfly weed, a variety of milkweed. Photo by Kim Bailey of Milkweed Meadows.

Nurseries, garden centers, and plants sales, updated for 2024

If you live in Western North Carolina or Upstate South Carolina and you’re feeling inspired to restore a piece of nature right where you live, where can you find the native plants you need? Native plants are the key to supporting more pollinators, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. But many garden centers don’t carry them. Fortunately, there are lots of places to get native plants if you know where to look.

Here’s an updated list of local businesses, spring plant sales, and native plant resources so you can make your garden truly a place of wonder.

Why Native Plants?

Many common garden plants come from other parts of the world and many of them are lovely. You can definitely have a great looking garden with or without native plants. So why grow natives? Because insects like to eat them! That might seem counterintuitive at first, but think about it.

Many insects, including most butterflies and moths, are extremely picky in their larval stage. They will only eat their native host plants. It’s well known that monarch butterflies will only eat milkweed in their caterpillar stage. And this is also the case with many other insects. They have relationships with native plants that they need to survive.

And those caterpillars and other insects are what birds like to eat. Insects are the base of our whole food web—and we’ve actually seen a scary drop in insect numbers so we need to bring them back. The more native plants you grow, the more wildlife of every kind you’re supporting. You’re helping restore much needed habitat and you’ll be rewarded with more pollinators, butterflies, birds, and more.

Learn more: Want to learn more about gardening for butterflies? Check out this full guide to butterfly gardening in Western NC and Upstate SC.

Monarch on common milkweed

Where to Get Native Plants

We asked a number of native plant gardeners what their favorite spots are to get native plants, and this is what we heard back. We are not necessarily endorsing these businesses, but if you’re looking for natives, check out these options. You can definitely find a great source to meet your needs!

Local and Regional Businesses

2024 Plant Sales and Events

  • Mountain True’s 1st Annual Plant Sale started February 15 and will continue through March 31, while supplies last. Get a jump start on Earth Day and take steps to get your yards and gardens back to their “roots.” Choose from several native perennial species and shrubs, including azaleas, ornamental native plants, pollinator species, and those particularly beneficial to wildlife. All plants are sourced locally from Carolina Native Nursery. Plant orders must be picked up on Thursday, April 11, 4:00pm-7:00pm in Asheville.
  • The 2nd Annual Gardening for Life Celebration will be held Saturday, March 30, noon-5:00pm at Polk County High School. While tickets for this event are free, all tickets are currently reserved. Over 50 people have already added their name to the waitlist, but you may also join the waitlist here.
  • The French Broad River Garden Club’s Annual Plant Sale will take place on Saturday, April 20, 9:00am-3:00pm. Proceeds benefit LOCAL student scholarships in horticulture and conservation!
  • Bullington Gardens Spring Plant Sale will be held April 25-27, 9:00am-4:00pm. Join us for our annual spring plant sale! Discover a wide array of perennials, annuals, bulbs, shrubs, and trees, including new favorites. Enjoy a diverse selection, friendly faces, and fantastic plants.
  • Asheville Herb Festival will be held at the WNC Ag Center Friday, April 26, 8:30am-5:00pm; Saturday, April 27, 8:30am-5:00pm; & Sunday, April 28, 10:00am-3:00pm. “If it’s herbs, it’s here.”
  • Asheville Botanical Gardens holds two plant sales a year:
    • Spring Plant Sale is Friday, May 3, noon-6:00pm & Saturday, May 4, 9:00am-3:00pm
    • Fall Plant Sale is Saturday, September 14, 9:00am-3:00pm.
  • The Upstate chapter of the SC Native Plant Society is having its annual Spring Sale on Saturday, May 11, 9:00am-1:00pm at Conestee Park in Greenville, SC. This is more than just a sale; it’s a celebration of nature and community. Held this year in the Stadium at Conestee Park, this event promises an array of native plants, gardening wisdom, and a chance to connect with fellow plant enthusiasts.
  • Garden Jubilee, one of the largest gardening shows in Western North Carolina, will be held on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26 9:00am-5:00pm on Memorial Day weekend. With nearly 200 plant and craft vendors lining Main Street, the Historic downtown will be transformed into a garden wonderland.
  • The NC Arboretum in Ahseville is holding its spring plant sale and market on Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1, from 10 AM – 3 PM.

Favorites Outside Our Region

In addition to many local businesses, we heard good things about these sources:

  • Prairie Moon Nursery, based in the Midwest, is great for meadow seed mixes, bare root plants, and plant starts that you can order online. Their website and customer service staff provide good advice on how to get your meadow or native garden started.
  • Woodthrush Native Nursery in Floyd, Virginia, is worth a stop if you’re up that way.

More Places to Find Native Plants

Both the NC and SC Native Plant Societies put out lists of where you can find native plants statewide. You can find those lists here: