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Habitat at Home: Where to Find Native Plants

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 2023

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 to support more pollinators, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife? 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. And those caterpillars and other larvae 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. Most of these are local, some are not. 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

Plant Sales and Events

  • The Upstate chapter of the SC Native Plant Society is having its annual Spring Sale April 15, 2023 at Conestee Park in Greenville SC from 9am-1pm. There will be over 4500 natives for sale as well as participation by several outside nurseries, a book sale, beekeepers, and invasive species education. Grab your cart and join us in the festivities!
  • Bullington Gardens’ plant sale in Hendersonville is from Thursday, April 27th to Saturday, April 29th, 9am-4pm.
  • Asheville Botanical Garden plant sale is on Friday, May 12th, 12am-6pm and Saturday, May 13th, 9am-3pm
  • Asheville Herb Festival, Friday, May 5th and Saturday, May 6th, 8:30am-5pm, and Sunday, May 7th, 10am-3pm is a fantastic festival to get locally grown herbs, flowers, plants, trees and gardening supplies, just in time for spring planting.
  • Pollinator Week will take place June 19 – June 25 in multiple locations throughout Henderson County. Look for updates on this and other Hendersonville events here.
  • Garden Jubilee, one of the largest gardening shows in Western North Carolina, will be held on Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Memorial Day weekend. With over nearly 200 plant and craft vendors lining Main Street, the Historic downtown will be transformed into a garden wonderland. 
  • 2023 FALL Plant Sale Saturday, September 9th 9:00am to 3:00 pm, The Botanical Gardens and numerous local plant vendors will offer a wide variety of native trees, shrubs, and flowers for fall planting. Free admission and parking on site or nearby.

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: